Saturday, November 12, 2005

Why do it?

This started out as a conversation in this thread, but I think it's long enough that it deserves it's own post.

Also, I'm getting tempted to turn anonymous comments off because y'all don't SIGN them and I like knowing who's posting comments in my journal. HINT HINT

From an anonymous commenter:
but why do it?
sure, you can expose your hand if you feel like it, but don't good players want to avoid a confrontation with the opponent / floor and just keep their cards to themselves until someone says DEFINITIVELY that they're pushing / folding / checking?

I hear a lot of people tell stories like this, and they're either just barely over the line, or not-as-out-of-bounds as their opponent, but the fact remains that you don't want it to be YOUR fault when there's a situation like this.

My answer:
Actually, Mr. Anonymous, in this case I wasn't out of line at all - the action [from my view] went:

1.) Opponent thinks, then checks. (he made a hand movement that looked like check and only two people at the table could even hear that he said all in)
2.) The dealer looks at me for my action, and there's no way I'm going to bet that scary board, and I've been the aggressor in the entire hand, so I think I'm good, but anyone that can call a bet is going to win the pot.  Thus, I just table my hand and say, "jacks"
3.) My opponent, upon seeing my hand, tosses his cards into the muck
4.) Seven players, plus the dealer, assume that I win the hand, and the pot is pushed towards me.
5.) The player who mucked his cards starts screaming.

It's very very common for the aggressor to table their hand on the river when they're checking-esp when they're assuming they're good and don't need to see the crap their opponent was attempting to suck out on them with, so they save time and speed up the game by showing their hand and allowing the opponent to toss their loser.  What I did was commonplace at a live table, except that the better hand didn't table their hand and say "I beat you".

I wasn't trying to angle shoot when I tabled my hand; I honestly thought I had the best of it.  I am however, not going to forfeit a pot because my opponent was stupid.  The cards were in the muck, no one EVER saw them, and he could have as easily made a hand up and said "I HAD QUADS BEEETCHES!" but who could prove it?  That's the whole reason for the rule that you need to have a hand to take a pot, unless your opponent concedes by saying "fold" or tossing their cards in the muck.

It's actually part of the game of poker - there are many more ways to play stupid than just chasing draws or 3 outers to the river, and this is one of them.  If you sleep and muck your hand, you lose.

I have, myself lost a $300 pot because I didn't table my hand after being all in (which you don't have to do in ring game big bet poker), and missed that I had a full house to someone's flopped flush.  That was my stupid tax, and I now always table my hand when someone calls my all-in, because cards speak, and that has saved me at least twice that comes to mind immediately when I was ready to pay out a loss but someone said, since my cards were face up on the table, "no no, you win".  Don't get me started on railbirds saying "no no you win," that's a totally different subject for another day.

I've also seen people lose large main pots because their opponent for the side pot folds to a turn or more likely, a river bet.  The side-bet opponent folds, and says "Nice hand," the dealer pushes the side pot to them and by autopilot, they toss their hands in the muck, having forgotten about the all-in better.  Thus, just like in my case, the only hand that is live and not in the muck is the all-in hand, who wins the main.  The opposite has happened too - the all-in bettor, in their excitement, tables their hand out of turn, and one of the competitors for the side pot sees that, notes he can't beat that and mucks his hand, thus conceding the side pot to his live opponent.

That being said, there's a very good reason that when you are heads up, your cards are still live when you expose them: by tabling your hand in the face of a hard decision, usually an all-in bet, you can monitor your opponents reaction to find out if you should make the difficult call or not.  Since NL is a game that generally gets to be heads up post-flop, and you're not affecting anyone else's betting decision, it's quite a valuable tool - in fact I used this exact technique this weekend.  I had raised in position with AQo, and flopped TPTK with a non-coordinated board.  It was checked to me, I bet out a pot sized amount, and then got reraised all in by a regular for about $400 more.

Well crap.  He knows how I play, so he has to have a hand.  The question is, does it beat mine?  I squeaked, having mostly lost my voice, "Man I have a great hand! I don't know if I can lay this down." I look at him again, and decide to table my hand and see what the reaction is.  So I turn my cards up, but look at him the entire time, and say, "Are you sure you have this beat? Really?"  I see him look at my cards, and I see a tell that tells me he absolutely doesn't want to be called.  I'm not sure what he has, but I know I'm positively good and thus I say, "Call."  The dealer burns and turns 4th and 5th streets, and my opponent says, "Great call" and flips up KQ.

If I hadn't had the ability to expose my hand and get a read, I would probably have had to fold that pot, thinking there was no way I could be good.  In fact, my opponent then later asked, "Was that the hand you put me on?" I answered honestly, "I didn't put you on a hand, but I know you didn't want a call."  He looked at me funny and said, "I gave something away? I thought I wasn't giving anything away!"

Oh, but you did.