I recently sat down in a 1/2 NLHE game. The game had a $5 kill if the previous pot was >$100. I had only been to this game one time before. It should be noted that I had left another game that had broken and when I showed up at this game, the sun was already high in the sky.
I sat down to a table with 8 other players. I had played with some of these players, although there were a few I had never met before. I knew the game runners from other games I had played at. They had been running the game for about a month now I guess. They used to be part of other games, but joined together to start this one. It is really hard to say, since it is so convoluted these days.
There are so many games around town now, it is hard to keep track of them all, in fact; I have stopped trying. By my calculations, there are some 40-50 games that I know about, and that doesn’t account for the ones I haven’t heard of. It is just absolutely amazing how many games there are now a days. The thing is though, not all games are the same. Oh sure, this one spreads NL and that one spreads NL, this one has two tables, that one has two tables. This one has dealers, that one has dealers. But when it comes to the way the game is managed, most games are less than desirable. What do I mean by managed? Well, a well managed game has a lot of facets to it. Is the game consistent? Are the rules consistent? Are the players screened? Are the dealers competent? Do they provide adequate security? The list could go on and on. I have found that many of the games running out there have bought a table, some chairs, chips, and cards and believe that is all that is required to start a game and rake in the dough. And while in my opinion, most of these games will be here today, gone tomorrow, it is hard to ignore that they do get players to play at them.
I suspect that the majority of players in Austin that play at these games have never been to a casino. They have learned most of what they know about poker from TV, the internet, a book or two, and oh, this one game they play at. They pay the excessive rakes of these games and receive little if any amenities for their dollars. But there is one saving grace that they do have - ACTION. Even players that are accustomed to a better bang for their buck will play at these places because there is just too much action to pass up on and the amount of dead money offsets the excessive expense to play at the place.
Hence, the reason I showed up at this NLHE game. I had heard that there was action at this place lately, and after a round or two, I discovered that there were some live cannons in this game that might just make it worth the rake.
The key opponent in this game was about 3 sheets to the wind and playing nearly every hand. What is amazing though is that he was winning nearly every hand. In a short 2 hours, I saw him amass about $1500 in chips. I had tried to tangle with him, but I could never seem to get any part of the flop when in a hand with him. I picked up a pot here and there but nothing to write home about.
After a couple of hours of this, the guy had decided he should cash the hell out while he was ahead – way a head. Now I will tell you that I tried a few things to get this guy to stay. Since he had half of the money that was on the table, I wanted the opportunity to take a shot or two at it. Unfortunately, he was not to be persuaded and cashed out.
I looked around the table and realized I had the second biggest stack now. I had bought in for $400 and had a little jelly, but not nearly as much as I wanted. =) We were now bouncing between 6 and 7 handed as various “dealers” would buy in and bust out.
It was about this time when the hand which is the purpose of this post unfolded. I was in the BB when I was dealt 10 2 off. There were a few limpers and the SB made it $15 to go. Now you must understand that the SB is a bit of a gambler. I had played with him on one other occasion and I believed him to be a bit of a loose cannon. One of the game runners had made a large call against this guy earlier, with only a draw claiming that the guy commonly bluffed. Normally, a raise from the SB would indicate a powerful hand because you are out of position, but for some reason, I kind of felt like he was trying to buy the pot since everyone in had just limped in.
I called the $15 and soon found myself heads up with the SB. The dealer brought the flop, 10 9 4 rainbow. The SB immediately tossed out $20. Now remember, I have 10 2 off – I have top pair with a truly powerful kicker. Something told me that I had the best hand. But how do I play it? Do I raise now and take down the pot? Do I slow play and make a move on the turn? I hemmed and hawed and finally smooth called the $20.
The turn card came (10 9 4) 8. My opponent quickly bet $40.
Hmmm…$40? Let me analyze this a second. In my head I am going through the possible hands this guy could have to make this bet. QJ is obviously the nuts here, but would he raise pre-flop with QJ? Maybe, but wouldn’t you try to check raise if you had the nuts hoping your opponent will bet trying to represent the hand you have? What about an overpair? No, I ruled this out because of the size of his bet. Truthfully, I thought of the $40 bet as a “Get the hell out of my pot and stop drawing at me” kind of bet.
It was at this time that I looked at the board and noticed that the river card has already been dealt….faced down. The remaining cards have all been mucked into a discard pile of cards. Viewing this I asked the dealer, “DID YOU BURN?” To which he replied, “Yeah”. One of the game runners then offers a somewhat sarcastic comment like, “No, we never burn here.” It was obvious that he was being sarcastic, in a sort of jokester kind of way.
Now, I have to tell you, I can only assume that he burned. I didn’t see it, I didn’t see a segregated pile of burn cards, no…all I could see was 10, 9, 4, 8 X where X is the faced down river card. Do I think he burned, probably, but it is a bit difficult to PROVE that he did, now isn’t it? Well, nothing I can do about that now, and certainly not in the middle of this hand to which I am trying to win. I make a mental note to discuss this action after the hand is completed.
I refocus my attention on my opponent, “How much more do you have behind that?” I ask.
He looks at his chips and says “$80”.
I think some more, I shuffle my chips and then declare “Raise”.
I had intended to put him all in, so I pushed $120 into the pot.
My opponent begins to become unsettled. He starts moving in his seat, counting, and recounting his chips. He looks at his hand, he puts it down……I know I have him.
While this is going on, I look back at the board in time to see this.
The dealer lifted the river card up so that he could see what it was and in doing so, the person in seat 1 looked over his shoulder and they examined the value of the card in unison. My opponent was in seat 2 and I was in seat 3.
Finally, my opponent says, “I don’t think you have anything, I raise all in” to which he put in his final $87 worth of chips.
I immediately called the $7. He then asked me if I had a pair. I turned over my hand to expose my 10 and showing I had top pair. He shakes his head and turns over 7 9 showing 2nd pair. Like I said, I had him.
The dealer turns over the river card and reveals a 9. My opponent has trip 9s. The dealer pushes the pot to him and that is when it happened. I said something like this:
That’s OK, he won the pot, but you know what, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING LOOKING AT THE RIVER CARD WHEN THE HAND IS STILL LIVE? I DON”T KNOW YOU (the dealer) OR HIM (my opponent), WHO IS TO SAY THAT YOU DIDN’T TIP HIM OFF AS TO WHAT THE RIVER CARD WAS?
The dealer in an attempt to defend himself said, “I didn’t know what he was holding.”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER, I’M NOT SAYING THAT YOU GUYS ARE CHEATING, BUT YOU SURE AS HELL COULD HAVE BEEN. THAT IS ABSOLUTELY BULLSHIT - YOU DO THAT IN SOME GAMES AND YOU COULD FIND YOURSELF WITH A HOLE IN THE HEAD. CASH ME THE HELL OUT.”
The game runner tried to apologize to me profusely, but you know what, it is the game runner’s responsibility to provide a straight up game. Even if there were no shenanigans going on, it certainly didn’t look that way. He told me that this guy doesn’t usually deal, that it was late, and that they had been playing all night and when you are tired mistakes happen. EXCUSE ME? MISTAKE?
Does that mean you charge less of a rake because you have incompetent dealers, or because it is late? I don’t think so. If I am going to pay to play, I expect to get a professionally run game that provides me the requisite amount of protection against potential cheating. If you aren’t smart enough to do that, I think I’ll take my business elsewhere. Exposing a card during a deal is a mistake, forgetting to move the button is a mistake; LOOKING AT THE RIVER CARD WHILE THE HAND IS IN PLAY IS NOT A MISTAKE, IT IS OUTRIGHT UNETHICAL.
“Some times you just have to roll a hard Six” Adama – The New BSG.