GAMING – Thinking about poker: boorish behavior

fullHouseIn my previous article I recommended a stay at the Grand Hotel and Casino in Shawnee, Okla. Due east of Oklahoma City along I-40 and a pleasant stop outside of the hustle and bustle of the state capitol city. There are numerous hotel/casinos surrounding the city, on the east side this is the place to stay. Clean rooms, other relaxing amenities for the spouse and a quiet, well-run poker room spreading limit and no-limit hold-em with the occasional Omaha game, given enough interest. The night I stayed I entered a pot-limit Omaha high tournament [7 p.m., $120 buy-in with rebuys until the first break, three full tables with a few rebuys as others busted out] and then played some hold-em until long after bed-time.

As mentioned previously, it was there I witnessed behavior of two poker players which, in my opinion, was nothing short of boorish [“Somebody who behaves in a crass, insensitive or ill-mannered way”]. The first, detailed last issue was that of a player hounding a ‘friend’ for a loan to get him back in the game. The answer to that is “Never a borrower nor a lender be”, the details thereof can be reread in the last issue of The Gambler. In essence, do not be a player who begs for money; do not also be a lender; both will end up in disappointments and resentments.

The second example of atrocious behavior was in a simple $3 – $6 limit hold-em game. I fortunately was sitting at an adjacent table so was not an immediate witness, but the villain at the other table was loud and insistent in vocalizing and thus could be heard throughout the room. A rookie player was at the table and had made rookie mistakes; calling on inside straight draws and less-than-nut flush draws, betting out with middle or bottom pair, taking time to look and re-look at his cards when the flop/turn/river was presented trying to figure out his hand. You know, things we all did years ago as we were learning the game.

One player at the table chose to be the table captain, police chief, warden, psychiatrist and all-around poker ‘expert’ who began berating this poor soul – a middle-aged man who probably had a kitchen pass for the night and was trying his hand at the game – about his style and choice of play. As we all have seen, this squirrel was finding a nut now and then; often enough to set the boor off on how bad his play was: “Don’t you know the odds against that hand?”, “That was the worst call you could have made!”, “Did you really think that [whatever the rookie was holding] was going to come in?” This idiot kept after the rookie enough times so when he finally lost his $100, he arose saying “I don’t think I’ll play anymore.” and he departed the room. I firmly believe this man had more money in his pocket and would have played more had not the loud-mouth driven him off. For the rookie it wasn’t fun anymore; as matter of fact he was being insulted by this twit and like any sensible person escaped the abuse. He would take his discretionary income elsewhere where he felt welcome and more at-ease.

How many times have we all had someone draw out on us when the deck was stacked in our favor? How many times have we drawn out overcoming the long odds to pull in a pot? In the former we shake our heads and wonder how they could play like that; in the latter we pride ourselves on great wisdom and playing great. Both are bogus thought patterns. But the crime is to vocalize hate, disdain and insults on the player who caught that three-outer to beat us. The boor will heap scorn, derision and disparagement on the head of the player who beat him; this goes against, and manifestly so, one of the ‘prime directives’ of poker which is “The game should be fun for all concerned.” You want that player in the game – poker lessons are always tomorrow – he can learn while on-the-job. But it has to be fun while he’s learning! If it isn’t, he won’t come back and that’s money the table will never ever see again.

If you find yourself wanting to say something contemptuous about another’s’ style of play, bite your tongue! Tap the table and tell him “Great catch, buddy.” Then think to yourself ‘by good catch I mean how could you play crud like that?’ and by ‘buddy’ I mean ‘you jerk.’ Then focus your attention on the next hand because if you don’t, your competitors will. And if you’re really bent out of shape, excuse yourself for a time, go walk around and cool off. The villain’s money will still be there, ready and waiting to be pulled in by better players. The money will be gladly donated to others’ stacks if he’s having fun! So … make losing to you an enjoyable experience – and they’ll be back sooner rather than later instead of not at all – you’ll have another chance at their stack another day. This is thinking about more than just poker.

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