Monday, April 05, 2010

The Week at the Bike

I've been back to work for two weeks now (working only Tuesday - Friday). Transitioning back was easy. I realize I actually missed eating at the Bike - the food is quite good, but I get tired of it after a few weeks. A lot of the regulars in the game have good senses of humor, so it's fun to be part of that again, too. It also helps that I haven't yet had to play with "Corporation" Mike, who I find extremely unpleasant.

Early in the week I witnessed a pretty despicable angle shot and an interesting floor decision, which was explained to me the the next day. In this hand, Tony had the nuts on the river (a 7-high straight) and bet $400. His opponent, Jack, was on the far side of the table. Jack hemmed and hawed for a minute, counted out $400 in purple $25 chips, cupped his hand over the stack, and moved it forward. Tony quickly showed his hand, which is considered good etiquette when you are pretty sure you've won. In this case, however, he had been duped by Jack, who lifted his hand to reveal that there were no chips under it; he had left the stack back behind the line when he slid his hand forward. Jack had purposely used his arm and hand to block Tony's line of sight. Tony, obviously upset, argued that Jack should have to put the chips in. Jack defiantly refused, and the floorman John was called over. In my opinion, this is a difficult decision for the floorman (much more difficult than in the Diane situation). Technically, Jack did not move any chips forward, which is the usual standard. My expectation was that Jack would probably get to keep that $400, but clearly what he did was manipulative well beyond what is acceptable. The floorman couldn't decide what to do, so he took $400 from Jack and gave Tony the pot. He took the $400 with him as he went to go "check the cameras." Really, this was just a way to buy time before making a decision, since there was no argument about what had happened. While John was gone, Jack remained defiant, saying "I know it was wrong what I did, but I didn't move the chips forward so I don't have to put the money in!" Someone asked, "if you knew it was wrong, why'd you do it?" His explanation was comically lame: "I did it!" The floorman came back and gave the $400 to Tony after a little more protesting from Jack.

The next day I talked to John about the decision. He told me that the lead floorman watched the video with him, and told John: "Go out there and tell him he's a good magician. Give the money to Tony." I told John that I didn't mind the decision, but I didn't really understand what rule was being invoked. John came back a few minutes later with the (previously mythical) rulebook and said, "Rule #1."

I read rule #1, which went something like this: "The Bicycle Casino reserves the right to make any ruling that is in the best interest of the game, even if there is no explicit rule listed." That seems about right to me. There was at least one regular player who would have left if the decision had gone the other way, and I couldn't blame him for not wanting to play in a game where Jack was allowed to trick people like that.

On Wednesday night at 7 pm (exactly when my shift ends), there was a $50,000 freeroll tournament open to anyone who had at least 15 hours of play in the past month. Extra chips were given to people with 25 or 40 hours. (A similar promotion is in effect this month.) Usually, employees are not eligible for promotions, but for some reason we were allowed to participate in this one. I managed to get my card swiped 25 times, but I really didn't want to have to stick around for the eight hours it would have taken to win the tournament. My solution was to play hyper-aggressive at the beginning of the tournament. That way I could either go home or get a big stack and have a good chance at some money. At 7:40 I was in my car driving home.

On Friday I received some compliments and an interesting offer from Mario Esquerra, who is a semi-regular in our game. Mario is only okay in cash games, but he has an impressive tournament resume: over $1mil in total winnings, including a 3rd place finish in the WSOP main event in 1999. He's also captain of the Mexican team in World Team Poker. From previous conversations, I also know that he used to be a professional insurance fraud and subsequently became a born-again Christian. When he sat down on Friday, we were playing 5-handed, and he asked me, "when are you going to graduate?" I asked what he meant by that. "When are you going to play higher stakes? Your game is ready for you to be rich." A couple minutes into the conversation, he offered to coach me for two weeks. "All of my students have become millionaires." He listed Toto Leonidas among his disciples. He told me, "there is more money in this game than in the oil industry!" I haven't given him a definitive answer, but I think I'll decline. I'm curious, but I doubt he has much to tell me that I couldn't learn from a book or figure out for myself.