Monday, November 17, 2008

Do Poker Players Tell Lies? Does The Bear Shit In The Woods?

There's a new foreign player at the Vic who has become quite a regular (I'm not going to write his nationality to spare any embarrassment he might feel at the following anecdote).

Once you start going to any card room for a while it doesn't take long before you get to know a few of the other locals/regs/pros/layabouts/chancers etc. After a while you feel like one of the boys, maybe you're a fellow shrewdie, hustling "tourists" out of their money. You're not some egg who just got off the banana boat are you? You're a face, just like some of these other long time players who seem to be showing you some respect and letting you into their secret world.

But are you?

It's the 5-10 game and Declan is in seat 9 and he is drunk. When I say he is drunk, he is lit up like a Christmas tree. Still, seeing as it's Declan, he is still playing good poker, even though it means he is playing wild and crazy instead of his usual granite style (when sober of course).

But even four sheets to the wind Declan is no idiot and in fact his wild and crazy drunken antics, which include bluffing pretty much every pot he enters, actually means that he is still not risking barely 1 or 2% of the money he has in front of him. Plus of course all the banter and witticisms are now twice as loud, but still quite funny.

Anyway, the new foreign player (NFP from now on) is in the game and, to my eyes at least, it's clear he is seeking Declan's approval. He is laughing the loudest at Declan's wisecracks and lapping up Declan's crazy bluffs. This NFP is also one of these players who loves to call raises with trash and then "outplay" his opponents. He likes to draw attention to this fact and several times already he has told the table that, "It's no secret in this club that I don't mind gambling".

I can't remember the pre-flop action (but there was bound to have been a raise), but all of a sudden Declan and the NFP are heads-up on an ace-high flop. Declan checks, the NFP bets £200 and now Declan makes it £700. While the NFP is thinking about the raise, Declan giggles and tells him that he raised "No look". The NFP asks him if really did raise without looking at his cards and Declan says, " Yeah, sure". The NFP calls.

There may well have been another bet at some point, but I can't remember. It doesn't matter as the conclusion of this story is that when it comes to the showdown Declan tables AQ whilst our foreign friend shows AJ for the second best hand.

"I thought you said you hadn't looked at your cards? That's why I called your raise", the NFP now whines. Declan, still giggling, says, "I lied, I did look".

The NFP is clearly shocked that somebody would lie at a poker game, I mean, gosh, that's outrageous. He tells Declan that he has undermined the integrity of the game (!). Really? Sounds more like you got hustled friend. Of course, if you even vaguely bothered to observe what was going on then you would have seen Declan look at his cards as soon as he was dealt them. But, if you want to believe what a poker player tells you then you run the risk of being made to look like a fool.

The upshot of all this was the NFP went on mega-tilt, at one point calling a check-raise from Jackie Barrs (sp?) who won the hand with queen-high (Q2 diamonds on a two diamond flop). And what did our foreign friend call all-in with? The almighty 75 clubs that's what. To be fair he did have six outs so moneywise it wasn't a bad call, but there was no way he could have known his pairing cards were good.

I mean, how often do you get check-raised when you are c-betting with 7-high, aka complete air (ok, I think there was an 8 on the flop, so he had a backdoor straight draw, but that was it), and you think, "Ok, I'll call off my last £250 with this" ?

I actually made a very questionable play against this guy considering how steamy he was playing. He has raised UTG and a bunch of us have called including myself with 89 hearts. The flop comes down two hearts and an 8. The NFP bets £200 and now after a bit of thought and a couple of sly glances to my left to check that the other players behind me didn't seem too interested in the flop I raised all-in to £1,200.

Everybody folded back around to the NFP who now made a comment about how I must have flopped top set, but, "Ok, I'll gamble with you". Wow, I reckon my fold equity must have been about 1%, maybe less, so maybe it wasn't really the best of plays getting it all-in with a pair of 8s and a 9-high flush draw. Considering that he thought that he was up against top set, but still called pretty swiftly, showed how much I underestimated the tilt factor.

Most of the time when you flop a pair and a flush draw in Holdem it's pretty standard to play it aggressively isn't it? But I think in this particular spot it wasn't the right move. How would all you eggsperts out there play my hand against somebody on triple-tilt?

Happily (for me) I made a flush on the river to win a nice sized pot. Even a blind squirrel stumbles across the nuts now and again etc.