That Bastard!

He really got me good on this one. I was all-in without a paddle. I was up shit creek and drawing dead. However you put it, it wasn’t pretty.

I was playing $40-80 limit hold’em at Lucky Chances. This was around 2002. Alex was at the next table, playing no-limit. He spoke to me with a hand gesture and said, “Do you want to take a break on your next big blind?” I signaled back “yes.” A few hands later, he was standing behind me, ready to go. I was under-the-gun. I looked at my cards and raised. I don’t recall how the hand went after that except for the only thing that is pertinent to the story: at some point, I folded. Then I hopped up, and outside we went.

Walking away from the table, Alex asked, “What’d you have?”

“Ace-queen,” I said.

He looked at me kind of funny. “Really?”

“Yes,” I said. And then I did some splaining. I don’t know what I said, but I can do a reenactment of the basic tone and content. I said something like, “I knew when the small blind called preflop that he had at least bla-bla-bla, and that when he checkraised the flop he either had bla-bla or bla-bla, so when the bla-of-bla came on the turn, it was a no-brainer to fold.”

I can assure you that whatever it was I said, it was all very sensible and rational. It was a perfect explanation for playing ace-queen exactly the way I did. Except for one thing… I didn’t. I mean, I didn’t have ace-queen. What I actually had was king-queen. I had lied. But not just any lie. When it comes to lying about what I had, I’m as good as they get. I can always come up with exactly the right two cards to send exactly whatever message I am trying to send, and that doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of a hand and I’m trying to get my opponents to either think I played better than I did or worse than I did, and it doesn’t matter if I’m just trying to save face, or maintain a solid image, and it doesn’t matter if I’m walking outside with my best friend. All lies are created equal as far as I’m concerned, and by that I mean equally well.

After my explanation, a couple minutes went by, and I remember it catching me off-guard when Alex asked, “So, what did you have on the last hand again?”

“Ace-queen!” I said. “If you think I played it bad, just tell me!”

“You really had ace-queen?”

This is the point in our conversations where neither one of us can hold our shit together. Anytime I am getting over on him, I always give it away before it gets too deep, with a smile, or an out of context comment. And that’s what Alex did here. He has a smirk on his face, and the question was definitely totally weird at this point. I look deeply into his vicious, conniving, dastardly face, and I figured it out.

“You bastard!” I said. “You saw my hand!”

He was doing nothing but laughing now. And then me too.

I went on. “You bent down and looked at my cards when I looked at them, and then, you asked me what I had, knowing full well that I might not come clean with having king-queen in that spot. You totally set me up! And then you forced me to tell the lie again! I guess I would feel bad right now about lying to you, except that you’re a fucking asshole you piece of shit!!”


  • Anna Paradox Posted March 11, 2009 7:46 am

    That reminds me of a story. Doug and David and I were in Brussels. Doug spent most of high school there, since his father was posted to NATO in the Air Force. Doug said we had to try a waffle. David took one bite, and turned to Doug and said, “You bastard! I can’t get these at home!”

  • Max Weiss Posted March 15, 2009 4:30 am

    It’s very surprising to me how often somebody asks what I had and I name two cards which would have been the nuts, no matter the board, and people just kind of nod and move on. Even on paired boards or straight flush boards, they just don’t pay attention. They are just looking for some indication that they made the right play. The people that actually pay attention to what I say take the hint of “I’m not telling”, so either way, the person gets the information they want. But it’s hilarious to me to hear somebody say, time and time again, “ah, thanks” and not even register the hand.

    • Tommy Angelo Posted March 16, 2009 11:22 am

      Hi Max,

      There was a long period where anytime anyone asked me what I had, I always said “pocket aces.” It didn’t matter how the betting went or what the board was or if I had folded or won or whatever. And like you said, it’s surprising how often this was an impossible answer yet still seemed to satisfy whatever needs were needed.

  • Henri Posted March 15, 2009 2:21 pm

    Haha, that was funny for real

  • pathwalker Posted March 19, 2009 9:09 am

    In a recent session, after a hand was over, an opponent started chattering about the hand that was just played. I remained mum for a while, but finally caved in and added some splaining of my own. From a betting perspective, I had played the hand well, but I left that session disappointed with my sixth street action on that hand.

    In a more recent hand, I endured the needling of two opponents for several minutes after the hand was over. Having resolved to exercise my mum muscle, I put on a show of mum that even mum could be proud of.

    Thank you Tommy, my steps up the mountain are steady and firm.

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