It’s been a while since I played any live poker but I got myself down to the casino the other week to play a session of the old live stuff. Nothing special – just 3 or 4 hours of low stakes cash with £1-1 blinds and a £200 buy in. I even finished up ahead for the night although it would be a close battle between my win rate and minimum wage.
Having not played live for ages I’d forgotten one particular delight of the game when played “mano a mano”. I’m talking about the angle shoot and there’s actually nothing “delightful” about it at all.
Angle shooters are the lowest form of scum – well perhaps not lower than the aggravated burglar who uses your bedroom as a toilet, or Max Clifford – but you take my point. I suspect I’ve been spoiled by playing so much online poker where there aren’t people trying to dishonestly have your money off you by acting out of turn or using sleight of hand, but I really resent having to be on guard while I’m playing just because some devious little scrote is trying to con me. Why should I have to be looking over my shoulder all the time? There are enough other things legitimate things to concentrate on without these added nuisances.
The following example of angle shooting didn’t occur at the table I played at. It didn’t even happen in the casino I was playing in. The hand was explained to us by the dealer, an experienced guy of about 50 who had just moved to our table, and he’d been playing himself in a different casino while off duty the day before. Must be a sort of busman’s holiday – I guess our man really loves the game.
“Oh, I saw a good one earlier. It was goooood. So slick”
From his tone you’d think he actually admired the play and as you could tell this chap had seen a lot of live poker in his time you had a feeling this was going to be interesting. He’d seen the following situation develop.
The game was £2-5 and two players had got to the river in a £400 pot. We don’t need to know all the action as it only got interesting on the river.
A-K-9-Q-9 were the cards on the board and the first player, let us call him Mr Honest, bet £25
I know a bet of £25 into a £400 pot sounds small but this is the figure the dealer told us and as he’s a professional poker dealer I believe him. Besides people do sometimes make these titchy bets, either as an intended “blocking bet” or because they’re trying to induce a raise.
This is where his opponent, let us call him Mr Angle, made his play.
Mr Angle thought for a while as if he had a decision to make. In front of him were several £25 chips and he played around with these, picking them up and putting them down again.
Having mulled it over, he finally made a decision. He picked up a £25 chip and with a little shrug, he plonked it down on the table without a word. His body language was the key here. It was an action which made you think it was a “ah, OK then, I suppose I have to” call.
Mr Honest turned over his cards: K-9 for a full house.
To which Mr Angle shot back immediately.
“What are you doing?”
Mr Honest probably wasn’t worried at this point. He’ll have just wanted to see Mr Angle’s cards to see if his hand was good. “You called my bet and I’m showing you my hand.”
“Oh I didn’t call. I’m raising you”
This was news to Mr Honest but when you looked at the table Mr Angle’s hand had not moved and was covering the “chip” he’d just put down. He lifted his hand up and – shock horror – there were indeed two £25 chips on the table. Somehow he’d picked up two chips not one and no-one had realised. But like it or not, this was a raise, there was action pending and now Mr Honest had shown his cards….as mentioned, with action pending.
Mr Angle got the floor supervisor over and successfully had Mr Honest’s hand killed for exposing his hand with action pending. With his hand dead Mr Honest had nothing to play with and Mr Angle won the pot by default. We’ll never know what he had.
The sneaky bastard had deliberately said nothing when he put his chips in and waited to see if his opponent would expose his hand. Fortunately for the little weasel Mr Honest did just that and allowed him to pull his move.
Obviously he couldn’t beat K-9. If he could have then he’d have simply shown his winner and there would have been no need to call the floor over. Perhaps he had AK or AQ but let’s face it when would AK or AQ (or any other hand that isn’t a full house or better for that matter) ever raise a £25 bet to £50 when there is £400 on the table?
We all agreed this was a pretty low down thing to do but the dealer who was telling us the story made a interesting distinction. He said that, in his view it wasn’t a “moody” but an “angle shoot”. Well that was all lost on me. “Moody”, “angle shoot”, it’s all the same to me.
I just couldn’t do that to someone and I’d sure be upset if someone did it to me. There’s no place for that sort of manoeuvre and in my humble opinion people like that need dragging outside and given a good kicking.
Because when you think about it, it is highly unlikely that this character has figured out to do this on the fly. Which means he’d planned it previously and sat there for hours waiting for this exact situation to develop. And to repeat, there is practically zero chance the £50 raise on the river was a legitimate play. With what hand would anyone raise to £50 other than one that wins? If he could beat K-9 he would have shown.
People might say “Well Mr honest is a fool for showing his hand”. I disagree. When people call you on the river it’s time to show your cards and that’s what he did. He’s not a fool. He’s just playing straight and he’s entitled to think he’s playing in a straight game.
I’ll go further – he’s entitled to think the floor will do the right thing by him and in this case, doing the right thing would mean the floor declared the action was unintentional and ask Mr Angle if he can beat K-9. If he can fine if he can’t then piss off with the silly games and find another place to play.
By the way, the way to combat this is you are in Mr Honest’s shoes is firstly do not show your cards. Second, ask the player to confirm “is that a call?” and he will indeed have to say yes or no. If he says “yes it is a call” then it’s fine to show your cards.
Mr Angle lost his whole stack within an hour so there was some justice done but he didn’t lose it to Mr Honest so that was no real consolation.
I don’t like the way the casino dealt with it. As we left I told my brother about the hand and he didn’t either. “Yeah the dealer told us that story too when he was at my table. It’s a bullshit ruling. They didn’t have to give him the pot”.
Perhaps the people making the decisions get too absorbed in their own rules and start to think ” well yes, technically the hand is dead”. As the guy telling us the story was appearing to, perhaps they even have a grudging respect for the angle shooter.