Vegas -- Tell me without sayin' it
LAS VEGAS -- The river comes with an A, making the nut straight a real possiblity against my big blind-special flopped 2 pair with T5o. It's the Bellagio's $4/8 game.
I had been betting the whole way, with the small blind calling and the button, which I immediately had put on a flush draw.
I reach over the table to bet it out after the small blind checks and look at the button. He glances at the A and knocks over two red stacks of chips right onto the floor!
Seriously discouraged, I clench onto the chips and check, waiting for him to bet his straight. I have to wait a little while, because he's picking up a few hundred chips right off the floor.
He checks. I take the pot down, happy that his blunder was accidental and not indicative of a straight.
Playing online often is like playing with blinders, because you can't see how people are reacting to their cards. But in live play, those blinders come off. You can glance ahead of you and behind you and take in tons of information. Who's already selected "Fold to Any Bet" in their minds? Who has a hand and is going to bet it, saving you the trouble of betting it out with nothing?
It's nearly a crime if you haven't read Mike Caro's Book of Tells. So many things in there are still pertinent today.
Here's just a smattering of things I still see in Las Vegas tourist games. Sometimes these observations, just like in my Bellagio story, aren't indicative of anything. But they are good things to pay attention to.
The shaker: You see this a lot with old timers, but young players sometimes display this -- shaky hands when they are about to bet. Usually means a pretty strong hand.
The heartbeat: Also in the strong hand category, you can sometimes see people's necks racing with blood. Older players and especially the not-so-fit can't keep from breathing so heavy that their chest moves up and down.
Gotta go: "OK. I've gotta go home," a player says as he pushes his (usually short) stack all-in. I want to throw up every time I hear someone say this. Once in a while it is a gotta-go hand, like xx. But it's usually a decent hand, if not a monster. Today at the Stratosphere's NL $1/2 game this loose player made the announcement with TT. Some guy called him with J9s and caught a J on the flop.
But tells can be subverted. One time, one of the Sahara's shift supervisors jumped in the NL $1/2 game there. He put in a hefty raise and I called with 88. Flop was x82. He bet it out, I smooth-called.
Then a 2 came on the turn, giving me a boat. He bet it out, then I reraised him all-in. I turned and stared at him as an anti-tell. Typical tells run with the premise that "strong means weak" -- or you act strong when you're weak. Often bluffers will just stare at you, trying to intimidate you.
He thought about it, glanced up at me and called for all of his chips.
UPDATE: It's been a pretty good day for the US Postal team shirt. I'm up about $130, from $4/8 limit play at the Bellagio and Wynn and NL $1/2 at the Stratosphere. I'm also up a few dollars having spent the last hour composing this and 4-tabling NL $1-1 on Eurobet. The rake is lower and there's no tips needed.
I also had an unexpected online windfall -- Gaming Club Poker finally cleared a withdrawal -- actually a series of several -- that had been withdrawn months ago. It had been so long I thought the money was already in my Neteller account and hadn't taken account of it for my bankroll. It was a little more than the amount I had lost in the robbery. Just like the saying goes, the Lord works in mysterious ways.