If you’ve played live poker any amount of time, you’ve seen the guy: shuffles his chips even though he is obviously uncomfortable doing so; fiddles with his stack as if he’s going to raise and then decides to limp; counts out his chips like he’s figuring odds to call and his remaining stack if he does, all the while sneaking a look at you, and then flat calls; and he does all of these things as if they are scripted. It’s more choreography than strategy because the guy watches too much TV poker. Well, he made it to heads up with me last night at the pub tourney.
Now, before I continue, a good number of you reading this have spent time with me at a poker table, either live or online, and you know that I am a cash player, and pretty much ABC at that. If I’m betting, then I am pretty damn certain I have the best of it or there is a chance I can convince you I do. But when persona overrides sense for an opponent, I’m playing a better meta game every time, whether cash or tourney. And that’s why I took down my second pub tourney this month.
As that cute, petit, busomy, blonde pro, Jenn H. has pointed out, the male ego, with the bravado, and peeny-waggin’ can be exploited. For my opponent, we’ll call it machismo; however, that does not mean that the Gringo stoner dudes who devoured the rest of my fried appetizer plate do not employ similar charades to weave a tale of deception and counterbalance. Who believes stereotypes, anyway? Level three thinkin’ here, folks.
For it is more complicated, yes?
Three weeks ago I won, and along with the standard $15 gift certificate for food and booze, someone had added a sawbuck to the prize pool for first place. The organizers told me who. The following week I showed up to find that same person filling out a job application for the restaurant. Well, fuck me if I was going to keep that tenner. He demurred and I insisted, end of story. Except, I am certain I may have overstepped cross-culturally.
In situations as this, I can see the allure of a philosophy of self-agency. He made his bed. I fluffed the pillows. Did he ask me too? I may have injured without intent to do so.
Never mind that I knocked him out of the tourney that week, and the next, of which he reminded me this week. I don’t want your money, sport; I want your soul. As my buddy OB says, “Poker players can be so cruel.” Imperialistically so.
It was a big pot. I pushed a gutshot on the turn, and despite the coordinated board, knew he would call if he had any piece of the board. I whiffed the river. What would you do? I didn’t. I minbet and folded blind when he called. He showed me K high.
We were then pretty much even, but I still had him covered. Blinds were at crapshoot levels. Next hand I 3-bet my A9o and he called with suited connectors. The flop was not foreboding for a continuation and I opted to jam. He called with squadoosh. Ace high wins.
Was I outplayed?