And today, of all days, I just had to write about playing at Caesars, right? Beware the Ides of March! And/or playing low limit hold’em.
Was only there about an hour-and-a-half, I think. I emerged from the game relatively unscathed -- almost exactly even, in fact -- despite only hitting a few hands. Was your typical no-fold’em hold’em game in most respects, although there was one aspect that made it marginally more intriguing for your humble gumshoe.
I was in the seat to the immediate right of the dealer. During the short time I was there, the game constantly fluctuated between as few as six and as many as 10 players. Soon after sitting down I realized the fellow to my left was doing a lot of talking, including cursing, both to himself and to others at the table. And, as it soon became apparent, a lot of drinking, too, as he seemed to order something -- usually Heinekens, sometimes liquor -- at least once per orbit. He was playing round for round, you might say.
He was also playing very aggressively, rarely limping (the typical play at the table, natch), almost always betting when checked to after flop, three-betting and check-raising, and so forth. And he would fold now and then, too, thus giving an initial impression that there was some method involved. He won a few pots, too, during that first stretch, furthering that notion that perhaps he wasn’t as out of his mind as he seemed.
Soon, though, he’d lost whatever he’d won and was rebuying. Again. And again. No, the guy wasn’t good. He was blotto. And playing like it was lotto.
He kept rebuying for $20 at a time, ending up all in by the turn on most hands in which he got involved, then usually rebuying again for the next hand, which slowed the game a bit. In fact, one dealer even allowed him to play cash during hands -- i.e., to rebuy even after running out of chips before a hand had completed -- which also complicated things not insignificantly. (This obviously shouldn’t have been allowed, and the next dealer put an end to that applesauce right away.)
Adding to the madness, he kept trying to toss out the two Bally’s chips he had in his possession, mixing them in with his bets, with the dealers having to sift those out and return them to him. He was also becoming increasingly belligerent, even upsetting a couple of players with his actions and language. One actually left muttering something about being on tilt, although I think his mood was soured as much by his having lost a lot as by the inebriated antics of our tablemate.
Perhaps on another day I’d have been upset, too, but I found myself feeling very stoic about everything. Maybe I was just too tired to get worked up, having averaged only 3-4 hours of sleep the previous couple of nights. But it was as though I were a detached observer gathering from the experience various details about human behavior, like some sort of anthropologist or something. And despite (or maybe because of) our close proximity, the dude hadn’t specifically directed any of his vitriol toward me.
So I didn’t leave. Then I realized something else that was making the situation more interesting -- that was perhaps even a reason to stay longer.
I could see every single hand my drunken neighbor was playing.
Anyone whose played live enough has experienced something similar, I imagine. When first dealt his hand, he’d hold up his cards in front of him in such a way that I had to make a conscious effort not to see them. In fact, he’d usually utter some sort of judgment on the quality of the cards, too, letting me know not only what he held, but how he liked (or disliked) his hand as well. Then on each subsequent street he’d flash them again, again making it very hard for me not to catch a glimpse.
It crossed my mind that I now enjoyed what could well be a significant advantage in the game. Ultimately, though, I never utilized it. I could claim some personal sense of integrity prevented me from doing so, but that wouldn’t be entirely honest. More accurate to say no circumstance arose in which the added info mattered. Might’ve been deterred also by a vision of the drunk suddenly catching me seeing his hand and responding with a barrage of profanity. Or bottles.
Like I say, though, it did make the whole scene more interesting than it might have been otherwise, such as in one hand in which I’d joined a family pot from late position with 8-7-suited, then saw a flop come Q-A-8 rainbow. There’d been a bet and a raise before my action, so I let my bottom pair go. The turn was a five and again someone in early position bet, a couple called, and when the drunk raised everyone stayed in.
The river brought another eight, making the board Q-A-8-5-8. I knew it to be the case eight. Why? Because I’d folded one. And my neighbor -- with K-8 -- had the other. He took the big pot, much to the dismay of the young woman who’d come in second with ace-queen, though he donated it back soon enough.
I left the game shortly thereafter, thinking randomly about how strange a species we are, wondering why we do the things we do. And no, I wasn’t really focusing on the drunk. I was thinking about myself.