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No Freebies

April 28, 2010

It was a quiet Tuesday here in Vegas, so I decided to do something I don’t often do — play a live session in the middle of the week.

With the Deep Stack tourneys over for the moment, the Venetian was pretty quiet when I rolled in around 8pm and I quickly found a seat at a $1-$2 table. While that wasn’t too surprising, the distinct lack of skill at the table was. I guess I expected people who played during the week would be a little more serious about the game than the usual collection of tourists and drunks that populate the tables on most Friday and Saturday nights. I was wrong.

Soon after I settled in, a Chinese woman joined the table in the 1 seat. While she was no CK, she certainly seemed to have a solid grasp of the game and played fairly aggressively.

I didn’t get involved in any pots with her for at least the first 30 minutes she sat at the table, but I did notice that she seemed to particularly willing to play big pots with just two pair — especially if she had top pair. Which brings me to this hand.

A couple of players had limped into the pot before I looked down at my cards to find pocket Queens in middle position. Not wanting to waste any time, I raised the action to $15 and the Chinese woman called from the big blind. When everyone else folded, we went heads up to the flop, which fell Js-10s-7c.

She checked dark and I led out for $25, before she check-raised to $75. I called and the turn brought the 10d. When she checked again, I spent a little time trying to figure out her range and my next action.

I was sure she had the Jack, but I wasn’t clear as to what her kicker might be. Ace-Jack and King-Jack were both within her range, as was Jack-10, which had me a little worried. Based on her playing pattern, however, I figured she’d be much more likely to flat call me with two pair on the flop instead of check-raising, which made Jack-10 less likely.

After puzzling through her likely holdings, I put her on Ace-Jack and decided my Queens were still ahead. With about $175 behind her, I figured she was likely to call with two pair and that she might even shove if she thought I was trying to steal the pot. I also realized that my hand could still be counterfeited, so I decided to keep the pot on the small side, and led out for just $75.

This wasn’t a bet she was expecting and she fell into the tank, trying to figure out what to do. Calling was tough, as it left her just $100 behind and, with the amount of money in the pot, it was pretty clear that I would call if she moved all in.

After a minute or two, she looked at me and asked if I had Aces. I said nothing.

Still fishing for information, she fell back on a move that many players make; she asked if I’d show my hand if she folded. When I said no, she actually became indignant.

“Why won’t you show? It’s just a game.”

“If you want to see my hand, call,” I responded.

“I should call,” she said. “I can’t believe I’m going to lay this down.”

I went back to saying nothing, knowing full well that I was way ahead at this point.

“Oh, OK. It’s yours,” she said, tossing her cards into the muck. “You’re going to show, right?”

I said nothing, and slid my cards to the dealer before scooping up the pot.

“I had Ace-Jack,” she added. “Why won’t you tell me what you had?”

“I don’t give free information,” I responded. “If you want to know what I had, it will cost you $75.”

Now, I admit, my last comment may have been unnecessary, but I don’t regret making it.

Poker is a game about information and, in a casino, there’s no such thing as a friendly game, even when I’m seated at a table with a bunch of people I know. Sure, we may joke with one another and tell entertaining stories to help make the time pass but, the fact is, we’re looking to take each other’s money just as much as we’re looking to take money off the drunks and tourists who are sitting with us.

We may feel bad about felting each other — for a minute or two — but we understand, it’s part of the game. We don’t slow play each other and we don’t give each other information for free. And, if I don’t play that way against people I consider my friends, there’s absolutely no way that I’m going to give any information to some random woman at my table just because she thinks it’s the right thing for me to do.

And that brings me to these questions: Why do players feel like they’re entitled to free information just because they laid down their hands? And why, like this woman, do some of them become indignant when I refuse to oblige them?

As my buddy Grump would likely say, “If you’re going to play the game, you should understand the rules and the etiquette.” In this case, that means you shouldn’t whine like a child when I rightfully refuse to turn up my hand or tell you what I was holding after you’ve surrendered.

And, if you can’t accept the fact that you have no inherent right to free information at the poker table, I suggest you take up another game.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 11:56 am

    Perhaps she’s used to guys showing her cards because she’s a girl. While I never ask to see, guys will often volunteer that information anyway. It may be that she’s grown accustomed to people showing when she asks. You just happen to be one of the guys who treats all players the same regardless of gender or friendship.

    (Sorry about the whistle. I didn’t know you needed to borrow it.)

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