Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player. This entry in the "Aunt Sophie" series covers poker.
Aunt Sophie slow-rolls a slow-roller
“Nu,” Aunt Sophie began, “what do you think I did?”
We were back from a week in Costa Rica of playing in tournaments at the Casino Europa in San Jose and sightseeing all over that beautiful country, and found ourselves once again ensconced in our second-favorite rendezvous, the lounge of the Anaheim Club. Our favorite, of course, was the coffee shop. It was evening, and I was taking a break from my hold’em game with a glass of merlot, while Aunt Sophie, on the list for $15-30 lowball, had ordered a glass of chenin blanc. The room was humming harder, as the ceiling flew away. When we called out for another drink, the waiter brought a tray.
“Aunt Sophie,” I responded, “I could not begin to hazard a guess among the vast universe of possibilities.”
“Well, you know that mamzer Barry,” she proceeded, “the slow roller that no one likes?”
“Ah yes,” I replied, “Barry the needler.”
“You’ve played with him?” she queried.
“I have,” I returned. “He sometimes takes a shot in the 20-40 hold’em, where sometimes I find myself while waiting for a seat in a bigger game.”
The piano player plinked pleasantly while we sipped our drinks.
Show down their hand
“So you know how he is,” she stated. “In the 15-30 lowball, I saw him drive the livest player out. Barry opens for a raise next to the dealer, when Cincinnati, the live one making all the action, is in the big blind. Cincinnati three bets, and Barry goes one more. Cincinnati calls, so now each put in four bets before the draw. Cincinnati draws one, and of course Barry stays pat. Even against the live one, if he four-bets a pot, he’s so tight you know he has to have a pat hand. Cincinnati checks. Barry bets. Cincinnati calls. Now, instead of showing his hand as he’s supposed to, Barry says, ‘You caught me.’ So Cincinnati proudly shows down the 8-6 he made. Probably he’d raised to begin with drawing to that hand, and, since he likes to be tricky when he thinks he has a good hand, passed it intending to call. Barry looks at Cincinnati’s hand, looks at his, looks again at Cincinnati’s hand, looks back again at his own hand. He still hasn’t shown his cards, but everyone thinks Barry must also have an 8-6 and is trying to tell if his is better than Cincinnati’s. You can see Cincinnati is getting impatient. Earlier someone had bet and then not shown a hand right away, and Cincinnati had said to me, ‘When someone gets called, they should just show down their hand.’ I told him that’s what I always do, and it is.”
“Aunt Sophie,” I agreed, “I know. You are the epitome of politeness.”
“This I don’t know,” she offered, “or are you being sarcastical?”
“Sarcastic?” I asked. “No. I wouldn’t do that. I meant it.”
“Okay,” she assented. “Anyway, the dealer has the pot ready to push to someone, and it seems like that someone will be Cincinnati the longer Barry studies. Finally, Barry lays down his hand, 7-6-4-3-2. Cincinnati explodes. ‘Why didn’t you just show your cards? I passed. You bet. I called. You had the best hand. Show it. End of story.’ So Barry says, ‘I thought you’d passed a better 7.’ Ha! A likeable story! No way Cincinnati would ever pass a 7, and everyone knows it. Why would such a terrible thing anyone do?”
“Well,” I suggested, “I think the main reason is he just gets a kick out of needling people. He seems to have the mistaken idea that if people get angry at him, they’ll play badly trying to beat him. Concentrating on beating a particular player rather than trying just to play your best game is generally counterproductive and what usually happens is the player so trying ends up losing, and often much of that loss goes to the player he’s trying to beat. But I believe Barry has a secondary reason for doing that. If he bets and gets called and just shows his hand, the loser just dumps his own hand. Barry wants to know what hand the other called with, whether the caller passed and called with an 8 or 9, which is a pretty straightforward play most players make, or whether the other player called with a king or even a pair. Knowing that is pretty useful information. If Barry slow-rolls, the other player will show his cards and Barry gets the information he wants.”
“Yah,” she mused, “I think you’re right. Another time Barry called a raise and drew a card. He came out betting, and the raiser called. Barry said, ‘I missed,’ and the raiser showed his 7-6. Again Barry looked at the hand, and slowly spread a 6. ‘How did you miss?’ the raiser asked angrily. ‘You made a 6.’ ‘I was drawing to a bicycle. I didn’t make it.’ And so another angry player he made. He keeps doing this, over and over. Always the last to show, even when he’s first. The rule is, if there’s after the draw a bet, the person who made the bet shows first. But if after the draw there’s no bet, then the players are supposed to show down starting to the left of the button.”
“Well,” I put in, “that’s not the rule at all clubs, but it certainly is here.”
“Of course, dollink,” she retorted, “this I know. Always by the rules of the club I play in I go by, but everyone here knows the rule. But not Barry. When everyone passes, and he’s first, he just holds his cards, and eventually someone gets tired and shows down first, and then if someone else has a better hand, that hand he shows, and finally when everyone either the cards has shown or the hand in the muck thrown, Barry shows down the 8 he passed. And even worse, he’s so chicken, if there are several bets before the draw and he’s first with a rough 7, he passes, and then the same crap he pulls like he did against Cincinnati if someone bets and shows down an 8. Only this time the holdup is even longer, because the dealer has to give the bet back to the player who bet the 8, because Barry passed a 7. So I thought I’m gonna get him if a chance I get. And a chance I got. Boy, did I get!”
“Do tell,” I urged.”
“Well,” she commenced, “I didn’t think it would ever happen, because exactly right the situation had to be, but it did. Someone had killed the pot to get a hand, so now it was $30-$60. I’m first, and I got a pat wheel, so of course I came in, and not for the minimum, because if someone raised and I reraised, then I’ve given away my hand, I came in for $60. Paul G called the open, and a few people folded, and it was Barry’s turn. He raised. Everyone else folded, including the fellow who had killed the pot. Naturally, I reraised. Now no dummy is Paul G. He gave up. Barry looked at his cards for a long time, and put in another $30. Now I knew I had him. I knew exactly what he had. If the fifth bet he puts in before the draw, that’s no 7. He’s so tight, a 6 he had to have. I looked at his chips. He had exactly $65 left. I knew if I reraised, he’d call, but I just called. Actually, he probably would have raised his last $5 eventually, but maybe not, just so he could give one last little needle to make me think I had the best hand. But that was the point; I didn’t want him all in before the draw. He had to have just a little more than one bet, so that when I bet after the draw, he would raise all in, and he would have to show his cards first. The dealer asked how many cards. I hit the table hard with my cards. That’s what players do when a hand they got they don’t want to break when it looks like another player is raising to try get them to break. Barry spread his cards between his hands and looked at them so as nobody else could see them, and kept looking and looking like he couldn’t figure out whether to draw a card or not. Of course, everyone at the table knew he was pat. Finally the dealer asked him, ‘Sir, do you want any cards?’ ‘Time,’ Barry finally said. Boy, I thought, he’s slow-rolling not drawing. Finally Barry said, ‘No cards.’ So now I quickly put my bet in. And I know what Barry was thinking. She’s got a rough 7; that’s why she didn’t go one more bet. But now she’s forced to bet because of the sevens rule. Again he stared at his cards, acting like he don’t know whether to call or not. I just sat patiently, because I knew he would put his money in. Finally, he threw the whole $65 in, and said, ‘I might as well lose all of it.’ I picked from my stack one more $5 chip and threw it in. And then I waited. And he waited. I guess he expected me to show my hand, but he had raised, even thought it was only one more chip, and the rule is if someone raises, he shows down first. He knew the rule and he knew I knew it, and I could wait as long as he wanted. Finally, he spread his hand: 6-4. I looked at it for awhile, but didn’t do nothing else. I said to the dealer, ‘Excuse me, I can’t see across the table. Could you spread those cards over here?’ The dealer did, and started pushing the chips together, and looking like he’s going to push the pot to Barry. Of course, he couldn’t do that till he saw my cards and mucked them. I spread my cards the way Barry does, inside my hands, so only I could see them, and looked at them for awhile. Then I looked at his cards. Then I looked back at my cards. Then I looked back at his cards. I kept this up for a while, looking back and forth, and shaking my head. Finally, when it came time I thought everyone at the table would plotz, I spread my hand on the table. The dealer pushed me the pot, and Barry jumped up so fast he knocked over his chair and stomped off. And, guess what? Everyone at the table started clapping.”