Friday, October 24, 2008

A True Story

About a week and a half ago, I related the bad beat that ended my poker playing for a fortnight. Here's another tale from that night, of the exact opposite.

My first table had the usual range of players. Some guys I knew, others I vaguely recognized, and others I'd never seen before. The club is popular, and I don't go very often, so not knowing people isn't uncommon.

Despite the energy drink I'd downed earlier, I was tired. I came close to dozing off a couple times before I shook it off and started playing. During my folding-stage (ie.- not a damned thing worth playing, and that table wouldn't lay down to anything short of an all-in), I was watching the guys I didn't know. I pegged their styles, their tendencies, their tells. Then one of them did something that caught my attention and woke me right up.

He re-raised me preflop. It was the second hand I'd been involved in all night, and re-raised me. I had something like JT, and after his re-raise there were callers. I folded and watched, curious what he had. The flop comes down A-high with two medium cards, EP bets, he calls, and everyone else folds. Turn isn't exciting, EP bets, he raises, EP goes all-in, this guy thinks for a while and calls. Cards come over and it's AT vs 77??? This guy re-raised pre with 77, and stayed in the hand, with at least 3 overcards to his 77 by the turn. He looked mildly ashamed, and was shocked when he still had chips left after everything was counted. He had a beer that I hadn't paid attention to before and seemed to be a bit drunk. A lot of things seemed wrong here and I started really watching him.

He wasn't drunk, he was acting, he was a big guy and we'd only been playing for about 30 minutes, and that was the only beer he'd had in front of him. And nobody at the club is so bad they play the hand that way. In fact, he was in pretty good shape too, big arms, short hair. He was embarrassed by the "bad play", and eventually put his chips in with 22 or something and was done. There was something else "wrong" about him that was giving me bad vibes. Someone walked over, they chatted briefly about his hand, he downed his beer, and he left.

My mind was screaming "NARC" at me. His actions and look made me think of an article about a bust from a year or so ago somewhere else. The descriptions in a forum of their narc's actions matched the M.O. here. I put it aside, but kept it in mind. The club had overstayed its welcome at the current location (having moved regularly before this), and they'd never been busier. More people means more risk, and means looser locks. Then I got my bad beat, and instead of staying to play cash as planned, I walked away. I had taken out enough 20's to play for a while if I wanted, to the point where before I got there I thought about moving some of it to another place in case of a robbery or something. I pushed that aside, because that shit never happens in Toronto.

Then this week I got an odd e-mail from the club. It got me thinking, and I mentioned to a buddy that I thought something was up. I mentioned my narc concerns and he said, "Yah, I won't be going there for a while, thanks for the heads-up."

Today, I found out that the club had been busted THAT VERY NIGHT. If my AK had held up, or I stuck around to play cash, I'd have been charged with being found in a common gambling house. Instead, it seems someone was looking out for me and bad beat my ass out the door just in time.

I don't know if the guy I pegged was the inside man or not, but I learned long before I started playing poker that my reads are usually good.

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