Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Harmonica

YTD: +$30564.99

There was a small demand, after my last post on the good ol' days, for some more anecdotes on the heart break and wallet ache of playing poker in the pre-Internet era.

I was going to make the main focus the amusing story of when a player drove across country to confront a well known poker contributor, occasional funny man, and often hard nut. This confrontation was principally around a pick axe handle, brought just for the occasion. On seeing his interlocutor, stepping out of a car with the said debating tool poised for questioning, our comedian said, quietly, coolly "Is that all you've got?" Which if it had been me, would have provoked a fast rewind of existence so far, back into the car, reverse out of the street, Keystone Cops-style, and getting the fuck out of Dodge.

This did not happen.

The next day I saw our jovial friend, still jovial, and as unblemished as he ever could be. Our misguided friend, however, was bundled up like a decade early audition for The Mummy.

Within two weeks, they were both playing at the same table again.

However, I didn't want to make the prime focus of my reminisces *quite* so negative, so instead I have the triumverate of terror.

The Good


Blackpool, in the North of England, was very much an acquired taste, and a poor one at that. However back in the 90s, it was often home to some of the worst cash players in human existence, and that alone made the trip worthwhile. These were the types that thought 10 card Omaha the epitome of skill, and a 8th nut low a solid investment.

However, at my table was a more fearsome bunch. A guy who would later end up European champion. Another, the youngest player to win $1 million at the WSOP. In the hand in question there was some considerable preflop action and on the flop a tight, fearless, aggressive, well known Oriental player went all-in. I put him on a flush draw and called him with top pair and some kind of American wrap - this was some time ago, please! As we were friends and there was no more betting we shared our hands. He had an overpair and a flush draw, which made matters worse as he hit his pair on the turn. I was now in a world of hurt. A seemingly irrelevant river arrived and I desperately shuffled my cards, trying to find something that would win me this monster pot.

"You have the straight," he gently nudged me.

Only he had seen my hand.

Ever since, in the same circumstances, I have repaid the favour for those unfortunates who haven't realised that they have thumped me with their exposed hand.

And as a sad addendum, the player in question got effectively broke and never recovered.

The Bad


Let's Quantum Leap forward half a decade. We are now in a very pleasant cash game playing my game of choice, PLO8b. The main donator in this game was a young, loose student guy, from a very rich family. He was waaay to aggressive and had a waaay to high opinion of his own game. By the river of this particular hand, I had him all-in and declared my hand "Nut full, and a low" and exposed my hand to the table. My low wasn't great, hence the "and a low" phrase.

Well the youngster shook his hand and thought and shook his head some more. "You win" he said, and started to muck his hand.

"No wait!" shouted The Rock, who had not spoke a word for the last two hours and had saw his hand inadvertently as he was sat next to him. This is the key point. At no point was his hand exposed to the table. Rather, The Rock had seen it because the student was taking one last wistful look at it before conceding defeat.

"You have a better low, look" and the Rock showed him.

To say I was fucking livid was an understatement. We both knew why The Rock had done this. He hadn't wanted to let the loose money get into my stack. He wanted a chance to get it himself.

"If he puts his fucking hand down, *I* will show him he's beat me", I said softly, truthfully.

The Rock looked guilty, went quiet again, busted the rich kid and promptly left almost the next hand.

The Ugly

OK time trippers, we are back to the start of my career again. The soon to be WSOP millionaire kid was busting up games all over England. He was good and he was on fire. At the time he was ferried around the country by some old friends, one a small time tourney hustler, the other, well just a hustler at best, at worst a rumoured cheat, although that was to come later.

Having duly bust the cash table again, the young tyro needed a hand carrying his chips to the cash desk and the hustler duly obliged.

Some time later our friend realised that he was £50 short.

Yes, his friend, long established from his recent teenage years, and an older figure by far, many hours spent following the white line with, and whom he would often give money to, well, just because he could, had stolen from him.

Yes, his friendship was only worth £50.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Nice to see you've been doing better at the tables. It's also entertaining to see live game stories that most of the plo players who read this probably don't have experience of themselves as some of us older players do. Sitting at home with your computer you never get to personally experience the many interesting characters of all stripes who you are actually playing with.

A couple months back a poster in the 2+2 psychology forum posted regarding a regular losing player in his casino game who committed suicide after losing all the money he had embezzled. I told him that over the years before I started playing online almost exclusively I had witnessed this many times and had played with all kinds of interesting people as well as lowlifes.

In particular, a lot of these internet only younger guys have never personally met the degenerates, criminals and hustler types that we have. Of course I can't say that I actually miss those people (only their $$$), and that is one of the bonuses of playing online. Since I don't like and thus rarely play tourneys, I seldom venture to casinos or home games now so I not only don't have to deal with those people, I also don't have to worry about getting cheated or robbed by them either. It's nice not to have to stick my chrome plated .38 in my pocket to play poker like in the old days. And of course I don't have to put up with smokers assaulting my lungs continuously.

However there is a downside to online, and that is that I also made lots of friends playing in the old days and that is pretty hard online except through blogs/forums like these but they are from all over and not likely to be met by myself since I don't travel to tourneys.

There is something crucial though that I feel lots of the younger online players lack when just starting to go to B&M cardrooms for cash games and tourneys, and that is the skill to read tells and evalutate players. This puts them at somewhat of a disadvantage when they actually play live, and that can't be overcome by reading books. Also they don't learn to study peoples' characters and learn how to avoid all the various cons that hustlers they meet in casinos could try on them. And it is more than just knowing who you could possibly lend money to with a realistic hope of being repaid.

Anyway, great post Dave and keep the $$$ rolling in not out.

BluffTHIS!

Drizztdj said...

Do you still play PLO8 or PLO Hi?

In any regards... keep up the good work! I might have to hit you up for some advice about if/when to release the nut low.

I've been having trouble getting quartered.

GimmeDaWatch said...

Good stories. Julian Gardner?

LA_Price said...

Hey dave,

Excellent post as usual and good to see you doing well. the problem i have with always playing on the internet is the coldness of it.
I can't play for more than an hour or two without needing to go outside or talk to someone. Yes you may have to play with some undesirables live but you also get to meet people and have actual human interaction.

I currently have moved back to the UK and live in the birmingham area. I have started to play live in many of the PLO games around. Mainly at the broadway casino and occasionally the vic and a few home games. I have met some very interesting people as well as some undesirables but i think it's worth the trade off. I got to play and talk with one of my favorite author's in stewart reuben which was a great thrill for me. I never would have been able to do that if i only played online. If you ever venture back into the old world to play PLO and spot an American with all the chips say hi.

Cheers,
LA_Price

Big Dave D said...

Bluff,

I think the BIGGEST problem the Internet kids have is not the fact they don't know the scams and the hustles. It's the fact they don't know how to treat people. The mildly insane Gary Carson of RGP fame once said that he didnt see himself as being in the gambling business or the poker business but the *entertainment* business. I used to get invites to games that my winning should have precluded me from; I got action that a solid player should have never got - because people "liked" losing to me. And when the pool of players is limited, this is a very important factor. The best example of this was a notorious Star from the cash games in the North. If someone told me he had lost 500-1m in his poker lifetime I would not have been surprised. One night, a player busted him and he asked for 30-40 quid Going Home Money. The winner was rude, and after a lifetime of losing, this guy never played poker again. Ever.

gl

dd

Big Dave D said...

Drizz,

I still play plo8b and I actually win more $ at it, on a per hand basis. But I don't like it as much. There are some 8b hands in the archive that are worth checking out. Also, the advice on 2+2 is mostly good, although it really is only effective for juicy games with dumb players. Playing that style will do you no good if the game "nuts" up like the 5-10 and 10-20 did on Stars. Then the best thing to do is quit.

gl

DD

Big Dave D said...

Gimme,

Yes it is he. I was lucky enough to play with Jules from his very first days as a pro, when he was just 18 until his WSOP thing. I recently said in another forum that I don't think you can get genius in Poker and I stand by that. But he was very special.

gl

dd

Big Dave D said...

LA,

Glad you are enjoying the UK. The Brummie games used to have a reputation of being (a) insane or (b) very tough or worse (c) both. Certainly the Stoke School produced an excellent array of tourney players.

Have you heard the one about Alan, Irish and the Bucket yet?

cheers

Dave

LA_Price said...

Dave,

The players are generally loose and bad or tight and predictable. Thre are a few good players in the vic game but also many weak spots. When the games get shorthanded the tight and predictable become the bad players as they play like it's still a full table. Have not heard the one about Alan, irish and the bucket. Care to share?

Big Dave D said...

LA

ALan Glover is a well known player and full time bookie. He used to travel over most of the UK playing cash, although he did win the World HU in 2002.

Alan was also a well known steamer and absolutely detested the game of Irish. Anyway after one particular bad set of hands, and Irish was again selected he was so steamed up, and so adamant that it was a game of little skill, that he played the entire hand "properly blind" with a fire bucket over his head.

This is a true story.

dd

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