Friday, April 18, 2008

The Boss Gets a Pair of Twos of Spades

Something happened in the 20-40 limit game today that I'd never witnessed before: We were playing with a bad deck of cards. It had two 2 of spadeses.

I was in the big blind in the hand, and the owner of the casino was two to my left and limped, as did the player before the button. The small blind raised, I folded, and both limpers called. The flop had two spades, including the 2. The small blind bet, and only the "boss" called. On the turn, the small blind bet again, the boss peeked at his cards, and said, "uh, we have a problem..." but called the bet. The small blind bet the river and was called again. The boss held J2 of spades.

The floorman (Peter) was called over and thought that I should get my $20 big blind back, the other guy who saw the flop should get his $40 back, and the rest of the pot should go to the player in the small blind, because the boss should failed to end the hand at the appropriate time. The boss argued that since he didn't know that was what he was supposed to do, he should also get back the money he put into the pot. Another floorperson (Mike) was called over. He agreed with Peter, but they called in yet another guy, who I think may have been their boss. He took the money away, saying "we'll discuss what to do. Meanwhile, just keep playing." The button was moved and I was now in the small blind. (As it turned out, I never actually had to pay a big blind in that round, so the situation wasn't handled perfectly.)

One of the other props at the table agreed with the boss that he should get his money back. "A player shouldn't be penalized for a mistake by the casino," he said. He asked me my opinion. I said that because the boss had never been the aggressor (he never bet or raised, only called), it could not be argued that he was trying to take advantage of the situation, and thus he should get his money back. (The worry is that if the player with the bad card can assume that he will get his money back if he loses, he can take advantage of the situation by trying risk-free to bluff his opponent out of the pot.) Meanwhile, the boss had to leave to go to a meeting or something.

After quite some time (I think they reviewed the videotape), the floorpeople came back with the money and announced their decision: the original ruling would stand. I got my $20 back, the other guy got his $40 back, and the guy in the small blind got the rest of the pot.

Mike the floorperson said that he was a little unsure of the decision because the rulebook supposedly said something like "if the bettor has a duplicate card, he must forfeit the pot." He wasn't sure if a player who was just calling could be classified as a "bettor," but he decided that he probably should be. In any case, I think it's a bad rule. Another player suggested that the player in the small blind should get the pot and the casino should foot the bill and pay back the player with the bad card. Ironically, what that would have meant in this case was that the casino would be paying back its own owner.

Certainly, what a player with a bad card should do is stop the hand and reveal his cards as soon as he realizes the problem. However, I don't see the logic in penalizing a player who fails to do this but does nothing to try to exploit the situation.

After all this, the guy who had been awarded the pot decided to give the owner his money back. At least that's what he told me, but I didn't actually see it happen.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Not Much of a "Craze" Anymore

When I started this blog, Poker was in what I think can be called it's heyday. There was something of a poker craze going on, and thus "caughtupinthecraze" was born. In my first post, I claimed that I could teach anyone with a 3-digit IQ to win at poker in a casino. While that may have been true at the time, it's certainly not the case any more. The competition has gotten so much tougher that the players who now provide most of my income are probably better than I was back when I wrote that first blog entry.

There are now only two "open" props in my section who have been working longer than I have. One of the guys who had been there longer is now a "silent" prop for the stud 8-or-better game, meaning he doesn't have to play any other games. Also, both of the props who started the week after I did are no longer working for the Bike. One guy who has been a prop for about a month is actually working another full time job as a bio-chemist at a local biotech company. I don't think he's making any money playing poker - the only game he's good at is NL holdem. He thinks he'll keep both jobs for about a year, at which point his wife should be done with nursing school. Personally, I can barely imagine any scenario where I would decide to work 16 hour days when I had the option of working 8. If I get into grad school, I plan on quitting the propping job. (I'm on the wait list for UCLA's stat PhD program, and should hear back this week.)