Thursday, March 31, 2005

Mark Twain on Poker

"There are few things that are so unpardonably neglected in our country as poker. The upper class knows very little about it. Now and then you find ambassadors who have sort of a general knowledge of the game, but the ignorance of the people is fearful. Why, I have known clergymen, good men, kind-hearted, liberal, sincere, and all that, who did not know the meaning of a 'flush.' It is enough to make one ashamed of the species."

-Mark Twain

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Exposed Cards at the Borgata

One of the sillier ways of protecting your hand in poker is to actually show it to the table while the action is still live. Players view it as a form of insurance, even though it goes against the whole idea of poker. An example would be, like, if you had pocket aces on the button, and before the flop someone made a big bet and was called by three or four people. There's a decent amount of money in the pot, and you know you have the best hand, so you move all-in preflop and show your aces knowing that no one has the odds to call you and you'll win what's in the pot without risking anything. I can't see myself ever doing that with aces, but one of the players at my no-limit table at the Borgata brought up the rule and mentioned that he had done it before and that it was perfectly legal. At the time that he mentioned it, I didn't give it much thought. Coincidentally enough, I ended up intentionally exposing my cards during a hand at that same table about an hour later, only for slightly different reasons.

Over the course of a few hands, I saw a friendly Asian kid lose his entire stack--about $600--on bad beats (AA losing to KK, my flush beating his flush, etc.). He rebought for $300 determined to win his money back. On the first hand he played after buying back in, I limped in with pocket fours from middle position, and he limped in on the button. The flop came 9-7-4 with two hearts. One of the early position players went all in for $27, and I flat called. The Asian kid then came over the top, making it $75. That put about $150 in the pot overall, I had about $500-600 left in front of me while the Asian kid had $225 or so left. I knew I had the stronger hand, and I felt bad for him, so I said, "I have you beat," and showed him my set of fours as I went all in. He turned over 9-7, thought about it for a minute and folded, knowing he could only win if one of the four remaining nines or sevens came out. The turn card was a nine, which meant he would have beaten me, but since I showed him my cards, I took the pot down (the other guy in the hand was on a flush draw) instead of losing $300.

Sometimes it pays to be nice.