Thanks again to the people at Caesar’s Atlantic City, Harrah’s, and the people at Stockings and Bonds for inviting me to their poker tournament over the weekend. I didn’t win, mainly because God hates me. But I didn’t embarrass myself either. I finished 20th out of 91 players.
And I learned some important lessons about playing poker with bankers that I’d like to share with the lawyers out there, if you’re interested.
I met a lot of bankers and hedge fund types at the tournament. Over the course of my five hours at the table, I played with eight people who self-identified as working in the financial industry, and I believed five of them.
One thing I saw, consistently, is that bankers are almost as risk averse as lawyers. But they like to play their game after the flop. It was really an important lesson and it helped me throughout the tourney. With lawyers, you know that you can bully them before the flop. Risk averse by nature, they’re not making big pre-flop raises without big cards. There was only one person who self-identified as a lawyer at the table (and I didn’t really believe him: a Stockings and Bonds girl was rubbing his back at the time and I felt like he was just trying to say something prestigious for her benefit). I could bully that guy before the flop, with impunity. And I got bullied myself before the flop quite a bit. Ace with a crap kicker? Out of position? I laid that hand down multiple times to aggressive players, especially after the blinds got really expensive and my sphincter tightened up on me.
But the bankers, man, if they had an Ace, they were going to see some cards, damnit. Hell if they had a King they wanted to play it and one had to really force the action to make them fold with Queen/Crap in their hand. Yet once they satisfied their curiosity on the flop, they became as pliable as gullible children. Didn’t hit their Ace? They’d fold in position, out of position, so long as you bet your middle pair. I’m not one of those guys that shows you what I beat you with (especially because so often I’m totally full of crap), but the few times I was forced to show (played 5-7 on the small blind and lucked into a straight, for instance) you could just see the “I can’t believe I folded to that guy” look on the face of the bankers that were no longer in the hand.
Still, I can’t cast too many aspersions. The flaws in my game were exposed at various points. The biggest hand I lost I raised pre-flop with a pair of tens. Some “restaurateur” (I named him Mr. McDonalds because it seemed to piss him off) called, but didn’t come over the top. Flop comes down Q, 10, Crap, with two diamonds to the flush. Out of position, Mr. McDonalds makes an aggressive raise. I read top pair that he’s trying to protect against the flush draw. But I’ve hit my set of tens (and so I also didn’t want to see any more cards), so I put him all in. He calls (uh oh) and turns over his set of queens. If I had been more aggressive pre-flop, would I have put him on a pocket pair, and thus known to protect myself when he raised?
I was playing catch up the rest of the night.
The night ended on a whimper instead of a bang. Small stacked with an Asian lady to my right who was just straight up better than me, I needed to make a move. The blinds were just killing me. I’m big blind and I’ve got three callers, including Asian lady who just called on the small blind. I’ve got A, Q suited and I make a raise that says “I’d like to steal this pot now.” One guy folds. Guy on the button makes a baby raise over the top. Asian lady gets out of the way (’cause she’s good), and I decide to push all in. I can’t call in that situation, it’d be his button and I’d have just shown him pathetic weakness. Even though I figure he’s got A,K (no way he had a made hand) I think that going all in might dissuade him (as it would almost put him all in as well). If he calls I’m in trouble, but I could get lucky with a flush or my queen. Two pair on the board and we split. Stranger things have happened. He takes a long time (he said he thought I had a baby pair, which was the right hand to put me on), but eventually calls. Flips over A, K., the widow is useless, and he knocks me out. I got a small clap as I left the table.
Later, while catching the end of the Pacquiao fight, a banker I met comes over. I tell him how I lost. He says “Yeah, I just call in your situation. You know, see some cards, then make your decision.” Yes … yes I do know, and one day that knowledge will make me some money.