Forum Focus: Scared money, stolen money and the search for happiness

January 08, 2020inPoker

There are no prizes for noticing that PokerStars Blog is usually focused on the online game, but a sweep around the poker forums this week turns up three posts of interest from the live poker arena. Specifically, the topics of discussion come from cash games in casinos in the United States, which is the environment in which many thousands of people continue to enjoy poker week in, week out.


A crying call? (Note: Actual player not depicted)

Our first post comes from a contributor to Reddit named “Denikin_Tsar”, who describes a situation in a $10/$20 game. Denikin_Tsar is only a spectator as two players get involved in a pre-flop raising battle, one “a 50ish year old reg who is sitting there with an unlit cigarette in his mouth the whole time and who’s got around 6k in front of him” and the other “another reg (young guy), with around 5k stack”. The older player raises to $80 from UTG+1, the younger guy three-bets to $220, the older guy four-bets to $600 and then the young guy five-bets to $1,600. The older player then moves all-in with the covering stack.

It’s at this point that things get most interesting: specifically the fact that the younger guy, facing a decision for all his chips, looks like he is about to cry. “Young guy starts to visibly shake,” writes Denikin_Tsar, whose account is the only one we have of the situation. “You can kind of see his lips saying something like ‘OMG’. He says ‘I can’t fold this, I can’t fold this, OMG this is so sick.’ His eyes tear up, makes the call and flips over KK.”

Unlike in tournaments, players are not required to show their hands when all-in in cash games and the older man opts to keep his concealed. Instead he offers a reassuring, “You’re good, you’re good.” This turns out to be untrue, however, because after a dry board he eventually shows pocket aces to rake in the pot. The younger guy, defeated and deflated “breaks down and leaves the table”.

Referencing a previous discussion about folding kings pre-flop, Denikin_Tsar wonders whether the younger guy could have got away from this hand. Certainly the information we were given suggests the eventual winner had an extraordinarily tight range. “This kind of situation is pretty much the only time you can/should be able to get away from KK preflop,” writes “DashCat9”. “This deep, he can fold if villain’s range is pretty much AA-AA.”

The more interesting strand of the discussion focuses on the beaten player’s emotional state and particularly his clear trauma at losing the pot. Although there’s a characteristic internet bluntness about some of the responses, the unforgiving Redditors highlight the fact that if the player can’t afford to lose his stack, he shouldn’t be playing at those stakes.

“I don’t feel bad for the kid. Like, at all,” writes “artzab18”. “I generally hate slowrolling as much as the next guy, but ffs, unless your last name is McDermott, don’t play stakes where you’re literally cry-calling with KK pre.” “Dpepps” agrees: “If you’re playing stakes where losing your buyin will make you cry, you are an idiot and deserve to lose.” And “dhelfr” adds: “Honestly, scared money is half the reason some of us are winners despite not being up to snuff.”

“bjj33” doesn’t have much more sympathy either and points to a very simple truth. “I never understand why folks can do this when playing a game where all their chips could be in play in any given hand. It’s literally in the name of the game.”

Read the full discussion: Story: 10/20 live NL game, guy with KK literally cries as he goes all-in pre…


A $100 chip slides into the burn cards

Poker conversations were dominated at the end of last year by allegations of cheating by the American cash game player Mike Postle. There was some fairly convincing video evidence, pored over in exceptional detail by sleuths including Joey Ingram and Doug Polk, that Postle was receiving information about opponents’ hole cards in televised games, allowing him to make perfect plays.

Investigations and potential litigation remains ongoing, but it has put the world of poker on high alert for apparent wrong-doing — as evidenced by a recent thread on Two Plus Two that drew attention to an apparent theft of a $100 chip in a cash game.


This particular incident took place in a $5/$5 game at Texas Card House in Houston, TX., and was captured on the vlog of recreational grinder Wes Cutshall. Cutshall has a neat table-side camera through which we get a player’s eye view of the cash game sessions he plays, and over which he subsequently records commentary detailing his decision-making processes. As ever, the minutiae of his play gets torn apart by the armchair experts, but Cutshall is refreshing honest about his own abilities and produces the videos purely for entertainment.

Ironically, the incident in question took place during a session in which a player joined the table who was a lookalike for the aforementioned Postle. It wasn’t him, and neither did the this lookalike have any significant role to play, but the mention of Postle in the video title may have helped some eagle-eyed viewers notice something peculiar.

At around the mid-point of Cutshall’s session, he got involved in a hand with A♦K♥ and flopped two kings. He goes at it with a solitary opponent, building a pot of more than $1,000. After the river, and as the players ponder their actions, the dealer begins fiddling with his pile of burn cards. During this fidgeting, the dealer apparently slips a black chip out of the pot and in between the cards, without anyone at the table noticing. It’s there one minute and gone the next, but no one is the wiser. (The hand starts at 11:58 in the video below.)

If you watch the clip through from Cutshall’s view, you can be forgiven for thinking this is a delicate but deliberate motion. In fact, it seems very well rehearsed. Two Plus Two poster “chocLatee” brought it to the attention of the discussion forum, but — and this is a huge but — he was sure to include a separate video, released soon after, by Mike Major, the GM of Texas Card House.

This video, taken from security camera footage, shows what happens after Cutshall’s video ends. Watch for yourself below, but the gist is that the dealer immediately tosses the chip to Cutshall when he notices that it has slipped out of the main pot, making it clear that the apparent theft was simply an accident.


It’s important to note that at no point did Cutshall ever accuse the dealer of impropriety. He didn’t ever notice the chip was gone. But it’s also excellent to see a situation resolved with such clarity and transparency and so satisfactorily. As 2+2 poster GWCGWC states: “Fantastic video review and explanation.”

Read the full discussion: Dealer accused of stealing $100 chip during hand (GM post review video)


No sunglasses, no headphones, plenty of smiles at the tables

We all know the cliche: the poker player with hoodie up, headphones clamped over his ears, silently going about his business as though he has lost the ability to speak, smile or socialise. Reddit poster “razumnikov” confesses that this image fits him only too readily, but adds that he’s trying to change. “I’m still polite to everyone, but I feel guilty because I know as someone who plays for a living, I have an obligation to be friendly/conversational to recreational players,” he writes. “I guess I’m just wondering how to go about it without it feeling fake or forced.”

In many walks of life, such a question would be laughed out of the room. Interpersonal skills are crucial in what some might call the “real world”. However, razumnikov gets a respectful airing on Reddit, and demonstrates quite quickly, through a series of polite responses to suggestions, that he has all the requisite skills to be personable at a poker table.

“Take a break dude and do something else,” suggests a poster called “myimportantthoughts”. “Poker is like any other job, you can get burned out. I feel like interacting with the absolute cretins you run into in the live poker scene can take a lot out of you.” A poster names “mikevanatta” picks up on the point, adding: “Hearing 20 different versions of the same ‘dealer is giving me bad cards’ joke at the table over and over again just crushes my soul after a while.”

razumnikov says that he has developed a strategy to deal with this kind of thing. “I actually started a notepad in my phone keeping track of all the annoying cliche poker jokes,” he says, before adding, “(One of the many antisocial things I do at the table instead of working to improve the table atmosphere.)” (For those interested, he says that the one he might hear the most is “When two players showdown the same hand and one of them asks the other, ‘You play that s***!?'”

Back on the point in question, a Dutch player named “arnejsecerkadic” relates a pleasant experience he received from a regular player in a local casino, and finishes his yarn by stating: “Moral of the story? Be chatty with them and try to enjoy it, but don’t talk about poker.. People giving poker advice while playing are the worst to ever sit down. Just ask about private things, but not too private. People love talking about themselves.”

Another Redditor called “Free2nd” concurs, but finishes with a warning shot about a few subject you shouldn’t talk about at the tables: “I couldn’t agree more with this,” he says. “Talk about anything BUT poker. (You don’t want the other people at the table to know how much or how little you know about the game anyway.) I’ll talk about the sports game if there is one showing on the tv (even though I don’t know much about sports either). Also, if I notice a player has a shirt or a hat with something interesting or recognizable on it, I’ll ask them about it. Hell, if a player has a nice watch I’ll say ‘nice watch’. Of course, if I’m stuck and card dead and playing like shit I suddenly don’t feel like talking so much. One thing for sure is DO NOT talk about politics or religion.”

Read the full discussion: Creating a friendly table atmosphere


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