Friday, March 14, 2008

My America

You know how Presidential candidates travel around the country and meet with regular citizens so that they can bore us with these stories later on at their convention?

Just like these politicians, I'm out here in Vegas meeting the people. What Phil Hellmuth might call "the American public." Ordinary folks. Human beings. The America that's playing poker on a weekday afternoon at the MGM Grand.

My America.

When I'm asked to speak at the Democratic National Convention later this Summer I will tell America about the woman from Chicago who didn't give up trying to buy the pot from me after I called her flop bet with top pair.

She tried again on the turn and I called that too. She finally checked the river. I checked behind her. At this point you might think the cards should speak. You might think the pot should automatically be awarded to the best hand. Read on.

Based on our position she is supposed to show her cards first. She also made the last bet and I made the last call which would also result in her showing first.

However I don't mind showing first. It's a respect thing. It's only a 40 dollar pot. I probably have the best hand with top pair. Etiquette says I show my cards. She'll muck and life can move on.

Sometimes when playing at a tougher table against more difficult opponents there are reasons for me not to show first. Or at least so quickly. It all depends. I might get information on another player by making them show first. This isn't being a jerk. This is playing the game within the rules.

But the reason I'm emphasizing that I didn't have to show first, the reason I mention that I could have made her show her missed draw or bottom pair, the reason I'm pointing these things out is because when I flipped over my hand, the cards hit the table and then flipped back over to their covered side.

They're still within my arms reach in front of me. So I flip them over a second time to show the winning hand. I'm pretty sure a few players and the dealer saw it the first time.

Everyone is waiting for this woman to muck her cards so that I can be pushed the pot. But she doesn't muck. She doesn't show either because her hand doesn't beat mine. Instead she starts yelling that I mucked my cards. Even though they never hit the pile of discards. Even though I could still reach them. This is her strategy. This is how she wants to win the pot.

As far as I'm concerned it's dirty poker. It's like we both agreed not to run in the Florida and Michigan primaries and now she's suddenly claiming those states count.

For me the bigger issue isn't whether I mucked. It's respecting other players. She doesn't want the best hand to win. She doesn't want the cards to speak. She wants to win by getting my hand disqualified. The same hand I've just shown her respect with by showing first.

She's trying to take a pot away from another player that doesn't belong to her.

This is Her America.

And as you might expect, she wouldn't let it go. She continued to argue.

And as you might expect, I couldn't keep my mouth shut.

We exchanged some dialogue. It's not worth repeating.

Lets just fast forward to the ending.

I closed with "You are one classy poker player."

She closed by telling me to "Just shut up."

And just like that my Rain Man persona evaporated away, disappearing somewhere into the idiot wind of perfumed air resonating throughout the MGM Grand.

Yet I'd be lying if I told you this lady was the only great individual I met at the MGM Grand. There are so many inspirational citizens out there.

How will I ever forget the young man seated to my left with the uncontrollable knee shake every time he held a big hand?

This young man obviously needs medical care. Probably some sort of muscle relaxer and if I become President I will work on getting this for him. I promise you that. But until that happens he's just going to have to live with the most obvious poker tell I've seen in years.

Most player's tells are usually related to their betting patterns. This guy was all about his knee.

There was a simple formula:

-When he bluffed it stood still. Perfectly.

- When he connected with the flop or held a big pair it would shake.

Every single time.

I eventually got involved in a hand with him. I felt pretty good about it on the flop but then he bet 100 bucks on the turn and I faced a tough decision.

Normally it would be difficult but this time as I stood there and played with my chips I peaked down to my left. His knee was shaking non stop.


And I liked my hand too.

Too bad.

It went into the muck.

So many great citizens we have. So many.

I got to know the gentleman from California in seat 8 who check raised me on the turn, not aware he was only 15% to win the pot.

My gut told me he was chasing. It was a very scary spot. I only held top pair, 6 kicker! But my instincts told me I was ahead. A year ago there'd be absolutely NO WAY I'd hang around in a pot after getting check raised with top pair 6 kicker.

But I put him on a hand. And I was going to stick to it. I came back over the top and reraised him. He sat and thought for a few minutes. Great news. My hand is ahead.

He eventually calls. I'm 70% to win the hand. He's 15.91% with 7 outs to win the pot. We chop the rest of the time.

He hit the gutshot straight and won a big pot. Still, I was proud of this last hand.

Im playing good poker, getting better at reading situations and having a bad run all at the same time.

I'm not looking for empathy. I really am fine with this.

I do share it however to illustrate how difficult it can be to do this for a living.

Outplaying your opponents and getting your money in good isn't always enough.

Not in my America.


genomeboy said...


Excellent post. I've very much enjoyed reading your blog (in fact, over the past month or so, I've read through from the beginning).

I come out to Vegas in a few weeks (3/26-30). I'll be sure to look out for you @ the V or MGM, so if another NY looking guy with graying hair comes up and says hi, well, don't be shocked.

When I'm sitting on FT in my microstakes game, and I'm on a streak of 7 gappers, K6os and 52 suited on the buttons, and I'm folding away, over and over, your blog pops into my head, and I feel good letting my hands go, knowing that I can't continue on this run. Reading your posts have helped my game immensely.

I hope to be able to meet you.

WillyR said...

Hey Rob-

Thanks for having me over your house for dinner last week. Being a big fan of your blog I thought it was supercool of you to take me around when I was out in Vegas.

Then to be asked back to your house for dinner was a real bonus. I'm not sure if you show all your readers a good time like that when they're in your town but I hope so.

You write a great blog and you take good care of your fans. Hopefully all the readers of this blog will get the "Robert Treatment" when they go to Vegas.

You rock.

p.s. I loved the improv show too.

Check Raise Chin said...

The only thing Rob ever treated me to was showing me his bluff while taking my chips.

Thanks Rob from the bottom of my heart.

You know Rob as we get older, we get to meet so many classy people.

P.S. Eric got married last weekend!

Wish him good luck if you get the chance bro.

Catch you soon!