Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Exterminator" Mike Defends his Honor

On Saturday, there was a strange occurence at the 20-40 limit holdem game. As you might expect, players are not allowed to turn over the cards of another player under any circumstances, even if the hand is over and they are just curious about what the player had. This would be considered a form of cheating, and, ideally, the offending player would be thrown out of the casino indefinitely. In actuality, this happens every few weeks, and is usually taken as a joke and not such a big deal. The floorperson will, at worst, give the offending player a stern talking to. This seems way too lenient to me, but I can live with it. A much worse offense, of course, would be to turn over another player's hand while the hand is still being played out. A player who did this intentionally should probably never be allowed back into the casino. Until last week, I would have told you I would be unwilling to play with such a player ever again. However, this exact situation occurred on Saturday, it was done pointedly to screw over the other player, and, remarkably, I was quite willing to keep playing in the game with the offending player. Oddly enough, he revealed the hand of the player next to him on the river in order to defend his poker honor.

The player in question is a latino guy named Mike (AKA "Exterminator" Mike because he runs an exterminator business), who I have since learned was in the Marines. He's generally been pretty straight, only rarely getting in arguments, and always keeping his cool. He also happens to be one of the few other players who (like me) doesn't chop.

Here's what happened. An unfamiliar player saying he usually plays at Commerce was in seat 4. I was on the button in seat 7, a talkative Asian man was in seat 8, and Mike was in seat 9, next to the dealer. I wasn't paying very close attention to the hand until the end, but this is how I remember it. Seats 1-3 folded before the flop, seat 4 raised, and only seats 8 and 9 (the blinds) called.

The flop was something like 973 with two spades. The turn was the 7 of spades, and the river was the 6 of spades. So, there were 4 spades on the board. I'm not sure how big the pot was, but probably around $240.

On the river, seat 8 bet out, saying something along the lines of "I have the flush, save your money!" Of course, it's not acceptable to talk like this when there are still more than two players in the hand, but it happens a lot. Anyway, Mike asked, "what's that?" and seat 8 repeated, "save your money, throw it away!" At this point, seat 4 became upset, complaining about the chatter. "Are you guys working together? I'm still in the hand here!" Mike tried to explain to seat 4 that he didn't know the guy in seat 8, but the player in seat 4 pointed out that he had no way of knowing if Mike was telling the truth.

At the time, I didn't really understand what Mike was doing or why, but he suddenly threw his own hand in the muck and simultaneously flipped over seat 8's hand. It was J9, no spades. "There, see! He doesn't have a flush!" Seat 4 called, showing 44 with the 4 of spades for a small flush. A quite impressive scene ensued, wherein seat 8 became considerably animated and angry and called the floorman over. Mike immediately said, "it's my fault. I was out of line." The ruling was that seat 4 would be awarded the pot, and in my opinion this was a pretty easy decision. No "disciplinary" action was taken whatsoever except to tell everyone at the table that there would be no more talking during hands and no more turning over people's cards.

I thought about the situation after the hand and I can't think of any other way Mike could have convinced seat 4 that there was nothing fishy going on. Personally, I wouldn't have screwed over seat 8 like that in order to prove that I wasn't cheating, but that really was an incredibly effective way to prove it. Still, I can't understand why he wasn't at least forced to take a 20 minute "time-out."

Mike was back again today. He said "hi," and I joked "they let you back in here after what you did last week?" He laughed and said "Yeah, any other casino and I would have been 86ed for at least a month."

In other news, I wanted to mention that for the first time in my life I was dealt one of the two candidates for the best possible opening hand in Omaha Hi: AAKK double suited. The other candindate is AAJT double suited. I was playing $80NL Omaha (a new game at the Bike that I think has some hope of catching on... they have also spread it at $100NL), and I won about $50 in the hand by limp-raising and then betting on the flop with a set of kings (both players folded).