Friday, January 29, 2016

Slow Roll with a Side of Schadenfreude

This morning I woke up to review some of what happened at the Aussie Millions Main Event while I was sleeping. There was still a couple of hours of play left to go, so I also turned on Jason Somerville’s Twitch stream to catch the end of Day 4 and see them play down to the final seven-handed table.

Reading back through Twitter, I saw the buzz about some of the excitement from earlier in the night, and later ended up going back to watch a few of the earlier hands. Probably the most talked-about moment involved a hand between Mikel Habb and Samantha Abernathy. Habb was eliminated in 15th in the hand, while Abernathy made it to Saturday’s final table.

In the hand Daryl Honeyman opened with a raise from UTG, and Habb -- who’d just won a hand and was chatting a bit -- made a just-over-the-minimum reraise the small blind while claiming he meant only to call. It was enough for Somerville to entertain the idea of an angle, a thought encouraged when we were shown Habb had pocket kings.

Abernathy then pushed all in from the big blind with a pair of sixes, forcing a quick fold from Honeyman. At that Habb took nearly a half-minute before calling, going through what appeared some theatrics as he held his head in his hands, then stood up for a while as if in deep thought over what to do.

Somerville described the show as a “slow roll,” and it was kind of hard not to think that to be an apt descriptor. The flop and turn changed nothing, but a six dramatically fell on the river -- a “six for justice,” said Somerville -- and Habb was eliminated.

The fact that Habb was standing with two fingers held up high (for victory?) when fifth street fell only seemed to add an extra layer of schadenfreude to the whole scene.

To give Habb a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, when watched out of context, it wasn’t wholly clear if it had been an out-and-out slowroll, or if perhaps he really was wondering about putting in the last of his stack with pocket kings. In fact, just looking back a little on the stream seemed to support the idea Habb was tighter than usual (but that tight... right?).

A little earlier there was a hand in which Habb had opened from the cutoff with A-Q-suited and was called by both Tino Lechich (button) who had K-J and Dylan Honeyman (big blind) with J-5 of spades. The flop came Q-4-2 with two spades to give Habb a pair of queens, but when checked to he checked as well. Lechich then fired a bet, then Honeyman raised with his flush draw. At that Habb folded his top pair, top kicker, with Somerville kind of amazed that he’d given up his hand.

You could tell from Habb’s table talk afterwards -- which included him telling everyone what he’d had -- that he was probably not as seasoned a player as the others, with the fold further underscoring the impression that he was playing especially tight, too. He talked a lot, actually, and in ways that caused him to stand out considerably from the rest of the players.

In any event, the back-and-forthing over Habb this morning reminded me how easy it is in poker to become conspicuous simply by playing in an unorthodox way, not following the usual etiquette or customs of the table or poker room, and/or perhaps being unsure about rules or the order of play.

I’m not referring to Habb at all here, but merely to the interesting and sometimes intimidating subculture of poker that can make things strange and potentially uncomfortable for newcomers. Meanwhile from the spectators’ point of view, such out-of-the-ordinary occurrences (like, say, slow rolling, intended or otherwise) tend to make the “show” a lot more interesting to watch.

Looking ahead to these several final tables coming up from Melbourne -- the $100K, the Main, then the $250K after that -- we probably won’t be seeing as much non-standard stuff going forward, although the poker should be on a high level. Will be watching for sure, either live or scrolling back on the stream.

Images: twitch.tv/jcarverpoker.

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