Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Lesson in String (Bet) Theory

Here's that other incident I wanted to tell you about from my most recent session.  The rest of this day is reported here.  By the way, I'm a little surprised that on that post, almost none of the comments were about the guy's antics in calling the clock on me so soon.  I thought that was the most interesting aspect of the story.  Yet everyone ignored that and instead seemed to comment on how I messed up a hand with Kings again--as if that is a surprise.  Oh well.

I mentioned the guy on my right took his sweet time to make his bets. Remember, at this game they only use dollar chips. Before he got to the table, the previous person in that seat string bet a couple of times. He would count out his chips in front of him before he actually bet, and have them in several stacks, then frequently would put one stack out at a time even though it was pretty clear that he meant to bet all the chips in front of him. It was technically a string bet. He never stated that he was going to raise or what he was going to raise to.

Well it was odd, but the guy who replaced him in that seat did the exact same thing! There must have been something about that chair. This is the guy who took forever to make a bet—he would count out all his chips and have them in several stacks and then put them out one stack at a time instead of pushing them all together out in one motion.

I never said anything because I know what the rule is in this room. I wrote about it here and here. The player has to call out the string bet—the dealer never will. So I had that in the back of my mind, knowing that I might have to call him on it at some point, if it was to my advantage. On the other hand, if it was to my advantage that he make the full bet, I would keep my mouth shut. I suppose that's angle shooting to some extent, but that's what's encouraged by the house rule.

So I had pocket Queens in late position. Some guy had opened to $4. Although by this time there had been some pretty big preflop raises, that was still a pretty common move, the $4 bet. The reason is, if everybody limps in and there's only four players, that's $8 in the pot and $6 of it will be taken by the rake and the jackpot drop. So you're playing for $2. So, sometimes it makes sense to raise to $4 just to build a pot.

I was going to re-raise if it didn't get raised in front of me, but the guy on my right held up the action to figure out what he was going to bet. He did his thing cutting chips for some kind of raise. He counted out and stacked some chips and he had two piles that he was going to put out—one stack was much taller than the other. It looked to me like one pile was $12 and one pile was for $4. So he put out the $12 stack if that's what it was, and then he put out $4 additional, and then it  was on me.

This guy was a slow player, but he certainly wasn't a maniac, and I assumed that if he made a bet like that he probably had a pretty big hand. Maybe Ace-King, maybe Kings, maybe Aces, maybe Jacks. So I was content to just call. The string portion of the bet wasn't enough for me to make it an issue. I asked he dealer to confirm what the bet was and it was $16.

Now as I was putting out my chips to call, a lady who had already folded spoke up. “Isn't that a string bet?” she asked.  To my surprise, the dealer said yes it was a string bet and that he'd have to take back some of his bet. The player was obviously surprised because he had done the exact same thing several times before and had never been called on it. I was surprised because that lady wasn't in the hand and it was my understanding that only a player could call another player on it, and she really wasn't a player because she had folded. So the string bet didn't affect her at all. But the dealer was confused further by the fact that I had obviously already called the bet (after she herself had told me how much the bet was).  So the dealer said that she had to call the floor over. The player who had made the comment about the string bet apologized profusely and said never mind, she didn't want to pursue it, forget about it. But the dealer insisted that the floor had to get involved at this point.

Thus, everything was held up and the floor came over and tried to understand the problem. The player explained that he had been doing that all day, but the floor told him that didn't matter now that he was called on it. The trouble was that the dealer wasn't sure exactly how much the original bet was before he added to it. The floor man said that he would have to look at the tape to determine what was going on. This delayed things even further and was actually getting kind of silly. Fortunately it didn't take long for the floor man to come back with an answer. But his answer didn't make a lot of sense to me. He said that the tape clearly show that he put the bets out in two motions. But nobody was disputing that. The dispute was how much he put out first. I think he actually made a legitimate raise to $12 and then added $4 to it. But the floor ruled that since he made two separate motions, his bet was merely a call and not a raise. That was just crazy.  But the ruling stood.  Therefore I had all my options open to me. I could call, I could fold (not very likely), or I could raise. At this point I didn't want to raise as that would give the guy an opportunity to come over the top.  So I just called. It was three ways.

The flop came Ace-high and the guy on my right bet only $5. I decided that was low enough for me to call, even though I was probably losing to Aces. The third player folded. The turn was a blank and this time he bet $10. I figured I could call the $10. It was still less than he originally wanted to bet preflop, so I was thinking he really didn't like the flop or the turn that much. But when another brick hit the river, he announced all-in. I had him covered, but not by much, and I wasn't about to stack off with my Queens on an Ace-high board. I folded.

But I have to admit I was as confused as hell by what happened. I had thought that only a player facing a bet could call a string bet, and the way it sounded they had changed that rule. I asked the dealer and couldn't get a comprehensible answer.

So when I got a chance I went over to the floor person and asked about it and he explained that no, they hadn't changed the rule. The dealer will never call a string bet, that is still the policy. However, what I didn't understand was that any player at the table that had been dealt in can call a string bet. Even if they already folded and they're out of the hand, they still can call a string bet.

To me that's the worst of all possible worlds. I mean, I can actually understand how sometimes it might be beneficial to the players to be able to call it themselves, if they're involved in the hand and there might be a situation where you would want to call out of string bet and then be another situation where you wouldn't.

Suppose in this situation, I had pocket Aces instead of pocket Queens, I would definitely not want to call the string bet cuz I would want his extra money in the pot when I raised him, and if he folded, I've got a few extra bucks. And if he's got pocket Kings or Queens that he wants to call me with, I'm putting a lot of money in the pot as a favorite. So it would have really pissed me off if some lady who isn't in the hand were to call out the string bet and take some money out of my pot. I mean if the dealer isn't going to enforce the rule why let some random person who is not involved in the hand enforce it? And in this case, it was especially weird because I don't think the lady knew that was the rule was the house wouldn't enforce the rule, it was up to the players. How she missed all the other times this guy had done the same thing I don't know. She had been there almost as long as he had.

Whatever it was an interesting interpretation of a rule which I think is bad to begin with.

I ended up breaking even for the day, but I got a couple of weird stories out of it, at least.