Thursday, February 22, 2007


What I've always found funny about poker players is the way they pride themselves on being unconventional and living on their wits and so on. This is basically true about many of the "characters" I have played with over the years, but what I find amusing and ironic is that very often these self same rebels and iconoclasts can turn into nitty pedants at the drop of a hat. I am of course talking about rules. Let's face it, poker is a mine field when it comes to the correct procedure and don't get me (or every player I know) started on the etiquette issue.

Many a poker game I have been in has often been derailed by a full blown mass debate (geddit?) about whether or not player x's hand is dead or should player y's raise go or how the burn card should be exposed because player z saw a flash of it and he thinks it's the 8 of clubs and then we expose it and it's usually the Jack of hearts, that sort of thing, you know. Or worse, some story about an utterly dull coup from some other game and then everybody has to chime in with their 0.02c and the game you're in comes to a screeching halt. Obviously this stuff doesn't apply to online play, so all of you online players can have another reason to be smug. Having said all that, here are two interesting situations. I was at neither game, but have heard the relevant details from reliable sources (especially the first hand as I got it straight from the horse's mouth. It involves Jon Shoreman again - typical, soon this blog will probably only be about him).

Hand 1.

€200/€400 Deuce to Seven at the Aviation Club in Paris. Jon bets on the end and is called. He says nothing and tables his hand, 86475. The dealer declares that an 8 has been shown and the villain throws his hand away. His cards are touching the muck, but retrievable. Naturally all of you shrewdies out there have noticed that Shoreman's hand is a straight which is not beating much in 2-7. Of course, this being Paris and a relatively high stakes poker game it takes a while before somebody points this straight out to the dealer and the player who has mucked his hand. Who do you think Bruno awarded the pot to?

Hand 2.

£100 Holdem at the Vic. The board reads 444xx and the villain goes all-in for a small amount into a fairly large pot (let's say £50 into £500). Hero flashes the case 4 and then calls. This is all done in one swift movement. Villain calls for a ruling claiming that the hero's hand has been exposed and therefore dead. Who was the pot awarded to here?


In hand 1 the pot went to the villain. Hmmm, what's that about locals always getting the rub of the green? (Jon has taken great pains to tell me that Bruno always tries his best to be fair, and I've noticed that too the times I've been to the Aviation, so I'm not actually suggesting anything. Plus I really like the Aviation anyway). Seriously though, the pot here should be awarded to Jon, don't you think?

In the second hand the villain also won the pot. Having written it down it looks a bit more black and white and seems clear the villain should get the pot. According to onlookers at the time it was clearly an angleshoot on the villain's part and their desperate gambit paid off.


snoopy1239 said...

The most annoying example of pedantry I witness is when experienced players pick up on string betting in small rebuy events. Yes, it's strictly against the rules, but when it's obvious what they intend to do, then I feel a little common sense is required.

Nice post.

the chimney sweep said...

yes i agree. that's just the more experienced players trying to intimidate the newer players.

JQ said...

Hmmm... I'm not sure I agree with you on Hand 2... The point of a ruling, in my opinion, is to give a context-sensitive interpretation of the underlying rules, precisely in order to protect players from angleshooting that could otherwise be engineered from strict letter-of-the-law interpretations.

In this case, the context is that the call is small relative to the pot and that the 4 is the obvious and stone cold nuts. So the holder of the 4 has nothing at all to gain from flashing it -- unlike, say, flashing a pair of aces in the same situation which could be an attempt to (i) gain un-entitled info from bettor's reaction (ii) look like a call without committing the chips. Once it's established that the holder of the 4 could have nothing to gain from showing, then I would rule it irrelevant to the pot.

the chimney sweep said...

jq, you are of course right, but since when has any cardroom manager ever interpreted any poker situation in the right context? usually they are called over and have to figure it out from at least five differing accounts and then they just ask the dealer to describe it and he always seems to miss out some crucial detail. i was trying to get it across that the villain in hand two was pulling a stroke, but like i say, when i wrote it down it seemed fairly cut and dried.

Anonymous said...

The lesson of #2 is a good one though - don't ever give them a chance. It's not the movies, no one cares if you do anything "cool" or not. It's amazing how often I've seen a ruling go the wrong way like that when it all started by the "hero" trying to make some joke that no one would think was funny anyway.

Having said all that I'm not condoning the villain's action at all - just protect yourself and don't let it happen to you.

Andy Ward.

Jon Shoreman said...

" ever interpreted any poker situation in the right context? "

How about in ruling 1?