Occasionally I go to a third main casino within my pokerosphere, one which has the oldest poker history in my area. It’s also easily the sleaziest. In addition to the known hazards of crime, collusion, disgusting people (the revolting mystery of Mr. Foam Lips, anyone?), and chips coated with years of human grease, an aggressive player must manage its culture of poker slowplay. I had received a report of tepid games at the Village, was a little tired of my alternative to the north, and had heard from other players that the action was good on weekends down south. With the majority of hold’em shifting here to the Big Sleaze, I had been avoiding the inevitable shift in my poker schedule. Tonight, I told myself, is as good as any other.
Naturally, as soon as I am seated at the new most move game, everyone at the table buys in short, obviating one of the main reasons for coming down to this shithole. However, the game looked soft overall and after I stole a few pointless limps, I was moved to one of the main tables. It turns out to be one of the worst tables I had ever been at the $5 level. Including myself, three actual professionals, one good nit, a true lag, and two slowplayers composed the lineup.
After picking up a few small pots, the first real situation arises. Folded to me in the cutoff, I open A2hh to my standard 4x. This is on average, probably half a blind bigger than the usual in this room. Bet sizes are smaller here, as the players are nittier. However, I don’t like to mess around and because these guys actually have a fold button, I’m happy to not tempt them into anything silly. Interestingly, I pick up a weaker player on the button, but also the King of Slowplay himself. Not a pro, KOSP is a leathery and polite regular who lives for poker and this room. I don’t think I have ever not seen him here. Unlike most of the douchebags in this dump, KOSP is almost courtly.
However, he is who he is, and will not play without a very big hand and has no real three betting range. His favorite maneuver is the limp or call with AK, then trap the tourist. For all intents and purposes, I am the tourist- he doesn’t really know me. So I can’t cap his range when he completes from the big blind and we see KjQhh. This is a fairly good board to cbet, and I am going to go for multiple barrels. I fire 3/4 pot, clearly repping a premium, yet both of them still call.
Unlike a typical game, I can’t discount sets and straights with these guys, but I’m not here to check turns like a fish, nor would I with a host of better hands. I fire again on a blank, and the button folds resentfully. He clearly had a hand, but KOSP looks like for once he is considering raising. The kind of hand it takes KOSP to raise has to be fairly nutted, so when he calls, I’m really looking to bink or blink.
The river is a strange card, an offsuit king. KOSP is first to act. He takes a long time with it. He knows he’ll never get a call if he leads, because of his style. He has to check and hope I punt it off. However, that’s just one side of the coin. If he has the straight or worse, this might be my moment to pot it and win.
I have time to think while he contemplates and check. The guy is such a sandbagger, I don’t know if it’s even profitable to try. I declare Ace high and he turns over QJ for bottom two that was ruined by the K. Of all the times for me to check, this was the one I was supposed to bomb it.
Now the button starts whining that I got him off a king on the turn, and I realize in full the folly of my river check. If the button can have a king, that takes away KOSP’s king. I missed a beautiful opportunity to punish KOSP for his miserable sandbag with bottom two. I had become of a victim of my observations of Mr. KOSP and our small history.
While I’m reviewing my decision morosely, I notice something strange: they washed the chips. They’re clean and they clink. The lumps are gone.
Some worms do turn, apparently. I’m ready for round two.