For hours on end, I can sit at the table, read my opponents, play only playable hands and know exactly when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. That’s just how I learned to play the game. It’s done me well over the years.
But something happened not long ago that put me on tilt more than ever before.
Please allow me to explain.
It was just another random night after work, a few drinks in the gullet and a little extra cash in the wallet.
I had been at the table a while, not long, but long enough to get a feel for my opponents.
One guy sitting about three seats to my left, who I could not directly get a look at, had been bluffing like a madman… and it was working for him. He was taking down pot after pot, more so than anyone else because a) he had a healthy stack of chips and b) the other relatively conservative players at the table didn’t want to call him for the aggressive stakes he was betting.
I soon learned that he had won a couple thousand dollars on the slots earlier that evening, meaning he was playing with the house’s money… and acting like it.
I was waiting for my turn to strike.
My time came about thirty minutes later. I decided to stay in a hand for minimal cost with low suited connectors, a dangerous hand to play because someone could always have the higher flush. Once your flush hits, it’s tough to get out of the hand.
That’s exactly what happened.
I got to see the flop and turn for relatively cheap but when the river came and my flush hit, I was left asking myself if it would be good enough. I bet a small amount to test the waters. The big-stack bluffer immediately came back strong, tripling my wager and representing a much larger flush. He had been bluffing pots for a while but he had also played this hand as if he had the flush, certainly one that would have beaten mine with only a nine high. A call here would have been the perfect time to stop this guy’s bullying, something the Dolphins locker room has been unable to accomplish lately, but was it the right call?
I sat there, trying to recollect the hand, and how he had played it. What did this guy have? Did he have that higher club?
That’s when it happened.
A pipsqueak, just to the right of him but still to my left, called time.
For those of you who don’t know, there are unwritten rules and etiquette at the poker table. Each player is allowed a set amount of time to make his decision to play or fold his hand. There’s no time clock, no set rules. It’s just common courtesy to keep play moving which I had been doing. I was just taking my time trying to recollect the hand. By no means was there any major delay.
The dealer acknowledged the time call.
I looked at them both, in amazement. I had been at the table less than an hour and most certainly was not holding up the game. I never do. In fact, in all my days (or rather nights) at the casino, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone call time on anybody. It’s like calling a charge in pick-up basketball. You just don’t do it.
Until this asshole did.
I looked at him incensed. My blood was boiling, my concentration no longer on the hand. I commented, rather angrily, that he hadn’t even played a hand since I sat down at the table, which he hadn’t, and he wasn’t even in this hand. To no avail. There was over $150 already in the pot with another $60 or so for me to call my low club flush, not great pot odds plus the majority of my stack if I was unsure. The rookie dealer said nothing, leery about making eye contact with me. A more experienced dealer probably would have handled the situation better.
I folded. The bettor turned over another bluff. He didn’t have the flush. I would have won the hand.
Now I have no idea whether those two were in cahoots but I was livid. I continued barking at the guy who called time while the bluffer to both our lefts continued to rake in chips. You’d think, if anything the time-caller would have wanted bluff boy to LOSE the pot since he was the biggest stack at the table.
So, as always, what’s the moral of the story? What are we to learn from this?
Focus is imperative to any long-term success at the poker table. I knew the bluffer had money to burn but he played his hand perfectly, at least to my recollection. Perhaps next time I’ll make that call and hopefully there won’t be some jackass at the table trying to antagonize me into doing or not doing so.
And if there is, I’ll just have to manage.
Playing poker at the casino is certainly thrilling, but so is playing online at places like Titan Bet. And for more Tales from the Hard Rock and other such ill-advised poker tips, visit here and here.