I remember a time grinding out a $1/3. No Limit Holdem (NLH) stakes game at Golden Nugget in Las Vegas where I won $1000 pot with KK. Now of course KK is the second best hand in Texas Holdem and often it is the best hand at showdown but not this time.
I had been playing this table for nearly three hours and felt pretty comfortable with my reads on the players. There was a fairly obnoxious aggressive player to my left which I had to adjust to. This player was often re-raising and taking down pots pre-flop or being super loud and aggressive on flops. Needless to say everyone at the table was gunning for him.
And finally that moment came for myself and the guy to my right or so we thought. Back then I never looked at my cards until it was on me, I didn’t want to give any tells away. The first person to act after the blinds raised to $30 (yeah I know right, tough table). 2 folds and I look down to cowboys (KK) and breathe in deep and think about my options, if I raise I will probably isolate the under the gun raiser, however if I just call I will make the pot attractive to the loose aggressive player to my left. So I just called. The player to my left very loudly announces I am all in. I immediately look to my right to see the players reaction and I can tell he is not liking it but most likely will call because of the loose players image.
The player to my right slides all $300+ of his chips in the pot. I have him on a hand like JJ or QQ. But the troubling thing to me is the glee on the obnoxious player’s face to my left, I mean he was glowing but at that time I didn’t care, it was KK and I wasn’t folding. I was pretty sure he had AK or AA and I didn’t like it but I hadn’t yet learned how to get away from cowboys in that spot just yet :). So I shoved my chips in and motioned to the guy to the right of me to show his QQ which he did. I flipped over my KK and held on to the two corners with my fingertips. The other player refused to show his cards.
Well this did it for me I was absolutely sure he had AA. The dealer fanned the flop, turn and river. It was all low cards and no one had improved. A great big smile came across the face of the LAG as he jumped up from his chair and slammed his cards on the table and exclaimed I got the nuts. And he did, or so he thought. One card the ace of spades landed on the table but the other hit it’s corner and rolled right off the table (seemed like slow motion) landing face down on the floor!
I very quietly waited for what was coming. I knew the supervisors would be called. I had seen this in Vegas numerous times. The supervisor came over and listened to the dealers rendition of the hand and what had transpired. He looks at the owner of the pocket rockets and said “I am very sorry sir, but in Vegas the onus is on the player to protect their cards and any card that leaves the table is dead” as he was placing the ace of hearts back on the table.
What a bad beat right? But it didn’t end there, the guy argued, got up, threw his chair and was escorted out the casino by security while I was scooping the 1K pot. I’m sure he received a ban for his actions.
This is why learning the skill of emotional reaction control is so important in Poker. Firstly, the guy should have protected his cards and shown his hand and not thrown them on the table. Yeah I know it’s unfair, it’s a stupid rule etc. But it is a rule, which as a player you should know about rules. Secondly, he clearly was not prepared for the outcome that he would lose the pot after his card landed on the floor to the point of throwing a chair. And lastly I am pretty confident either one of the players or the dealer could have tried to stop the card from rolling off the table but chose not because he acted like such a jerk!
This guy played me like a fiddle but still lost a huge pot because he neglected to focus on what I consider the true bankroll saver strategies: emotional reaction control, attaching oneself to outcomes and image management.
Focusing on these and other skills we teach here at Possible Poker has saved my bankroll time and again.
Good luck at the tables and remember to hang on to those winners.