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Keeping My Mouth Shut

by Gavin Griffin |  Published: Sep 27, 2017

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Generally speaking, I’m a quiet person. I can talk to my wife for long stretches of time, and if you get me going on a topic I’m interested in, like A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones, or a particularly good board game, I can really get going. However, just as a matter of fact, I don’t really like talking. Anybody who has played with me for long stretches of time is probably aware of this. I’m not going to ignore people who actually want to engage in conversation and I’ll speak up to defend myself or others in the game when it’s needed, but I’ve always avoided talking to people whenever possible. I’m an introvert through and through, so it takes quite a bit of effort for me to engage, especially with people I don’t know and I generally shy away from real conflict. Sure, I like to argue a point here and there, but real conflict is hard for me. I had a day recently, though, where I engaged in two very contentious conversations and both were normal occurrences in poker rooms so I thought I’d share the two situations over this article and the next.

I was playing in my now regular Big O game. Player A, who is someone that I openly and clearly don’t like, bets $200 on the turn in a three-way pot. I don’t remember the board specifically, or previous action, and it’s not that important. Player B folds after thinking for a little while, and Player C starts thinking for a long time.

Player C tends to be a thinker at times, definitely one of the slowest regulars in the game. As he’s thinking, Player A, who has been playing poker in casinos for at least as long as I have, starts talking to him. Tells Player C that he has a good hand and doesn’t want him to draw to the low, etc. Then, he crosses the line and says “If you fold, I’ll give you $100.” If this was a heads-up pot, no big deal. However, Player B speaks up and complains, rightfully so. I would, and have complained in similar spots to Player B’s in the past. He tells A and C that they can’t do that, eventually calling the floor over.

The floor person, unsurprisingly, tells Player A that he can’t offer to make deals on or off the table to induce a fold when other people are in the pot. A says he’ll also give B $100 (I’m not even going to go into the ridiculous psychology and terrible math that goes into offering money to player B in addition to C as opposed to just rescinding the offer to C) and both B and C accept.

I was honestly quite disappointed in Player C in this instance. He should have known better than to accept payment or even promise of payment from Player A. It’s a clear form of, at the very least, soft collusion. Not only that, but once the floor is over and is telling A that he can’t do that, he should realize that Player A has a clear way out of paying him the $100 that he shouldn’t have accepted in the first place.

Anyway, C folds, A pays B and C and we’re about to move on except for A saying one ridiculous thing. He says to the floor man “I didn’t know I couldn’t offer money to C to get him to fold.” I just couldn’t handle it anymore and am interested personally in discouraging future similar behaviors from A so I said, “Get the *@&% out of here, there’s no way that you didn’t know that was against the rules if you’ve been playing poker in a casino as long as you have.” He quieted down and in the intervening weeks hasn’t done any of his ridiculous antics like this in multi-way pots.

I think speaking up in situations like this, especially if you’re in Player B’s spot is very important. It makes it so you’re not being taken advantage of in addition to discouraging A’s behavior in the future. That’s also why I spoke up. Shame is a very powerful motivator. I’m not personally convinced that A can feel shame, but if he can, it’s important to call him out on being ridiculous in a situation that’s obvious.

Maybe it won’t discourage him from doing something so outlandishly collusional in the future, but maybe it will. At the very least, my speaking up in a situation like this can make it clear to anyone at the table that isn’t experienced in casino poker that things like this are not allowed and will not be tolerated. It might also give someone else the courage to speak up in similar situations in the future. To me, it was more important to speak up in this situation than it was to protect my antisocial instincts, so I spoke up, no matter the additional mental cost it had on me.

Poker is a game that requires certain rules to be clearly and strongly enforced or angles and unethical situations can get out of hand. If people who have been around for a long time don’t stick up for others in those situations, bigger problems can arise. ♠

Gavin GriffinGavin Griffin was the first poker player to capture a World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour title and has amassed nearly $5 million in lifetime tournament winnings. Griffin is sponsored by HeroPoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NHGG