Saturday, July 20, 2019

The unwritten rules of poker

Poker is weird. There are no rules. There are TDA guidelines which are mostly adhered to but there is no one set of rules or rule book that can be consulted to work out whether a player has committed an offence as each casino is free to post their own rules. There's also a lot of etiquette involved which can further muddy the waters when seeking guidance.

We're in the latter stages of a low buy in tournament - probably a few players away from the money at the final table. I'm in the big blind holding 8-8 and a short stacked lady UTG+1 has shoved her last 5 big blinds in which is called by one other player before it's folded round to me. Now I have a decision to make. Do I reshove my 20 BBs, in the hope of getting the caller to fold? Or do I call to see a flop and effectively play an empty side pot against him? His call could be construed as weakness, or it could be a trap. He has about 20 BBs left after making the call so has me slightly covered.

I think for a few seconds and elect to call. We see a flop of J-10-2 rainbow. I check and hope we're going to check it down. There's no side pot to bluff into and with 2 of us against the short stack at showdown we've got better odds of knocking her out and getting closer to a payout.

He doesn't. He shoves. I obviously can't call with my underpair and the two remaining players turn their cards up. The original short stacked shover turns over Ace-7 and the other player shows K-Q.

The turn and river are both blanks and neither player improves so the lady wins with Ace high. I'm pissed off. I should have won that. I don't say anything to either player but inside I'm fuming. Luckily there's beer to calm me down.

So - did the player who'd flopped a straight draw do anything wrong? Officially no but unofficially probably no as well. But what is he thinking? He's trebled up a shorty and we still haven't lost a player. Or is he just a typical Vegas poker player who really doesn't think that deeply and is happy to have flopped a monster draw (we've in an effective coin flip post flop) and is hoping to hit whether he gets called by me or not?

Thoughts please


  1. He might be one of those players, "I'm going for the win not a min cash."

    I know that I would have checked behind with just a draw on the flop in that situation. What benefit does he get by getting you to fold when he has king high? His decision makes it look like he believes the lady has no pocket pair and only K,x.

    I call foul!

  2. Terrible play as the point is knock people out, you only bet into a dry pot with a very strong hand. If I were you, I would have jammed it all in preflop as the point is the accumulate chips to win the tournament not bubble the money.

  3. I could have seen him jamming BEFORE the flop, but jamming into a dry side pot with King high? Of course, this comment is coming from a guy who had his pocket Aces cracked when a guy called off about $350 with a pair of sevens and a seven high flush draw. He caught his flush on the turn.