Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bad Beat Stories

I'll tell you what's the one thing I miss the least about not being in Las Vegas anymore: the bad beat stories.

Anyone who's played in a number of significant live events, ever been to the Amazon Room at the Rio during one of the breaks in the live WSOP action, and certainly those poor guys and gals out there covering these poker tournaments for seven weeks straight, knows exactly what I am talking about. You get your 15 minute break, you head to the bathroom, outside for a smoke, or just find a quiet place to relax inside the poker room, but you can't avoid it. The incessant chatter of your fellow players, all meeting up during break time to swap bad beat stories.

It's such a weird thing to do, in my opinion. I mean, I've told a gillion bad beat stories in my day and I'm sure I'll tell a million more. But don't these people at the tournament realize that (1) they sound exactly like everybody else around them, and (2) nobody probably believes them anyways?

For starters, it never ceases to amaze me how many different people -- literally hundreds, at any given second during any large tournament break -- are out complaining about the horrible thing that befell them at the poker table over the past couple of hours. It's literally all around you. I go out to have a breaktime smoke, and I have to walk about 150 feet away from the building before I can't hear anyone telling a stupid bad beat story from somewhere. And they all sound exactly the same! It's amazing. To your left: "So I pushed all in on the flop, and the guy calls me with Jack-Two. Jack-Two!! Can you believe it? And then of course, a Two on the turn and another on the river and I lost three-quarters of my stack just like that.". Meanwhile, over by the next pillar in front of me: "I re-raise with pocket Aces before the flop, and the guy in middle position just smooth calls me. Flop comes down JT8, he bets out, I push and he instacalls with K9. The straight fills on the turn and I'm out." So you turn entirely around and walk to the corner, and then it's the guy who walks up next to you on his cell phone, talking to some lucky person: "I push allin with pocket Kings, the guy snap calls me with pocket 8s. The flop is clean, the turn is clean, and then motherfucker the river is an 8 and I'm crippled!" It's just everywhere, and I have to say it is literally probably the most annoying thing about playing in big live tournaments.

And yeah, the other part about this that I just don't get is do these people really think everyone believes every word they say? F-Train made a funny comment to this effect in his blog the other day as well, but poker tournament players as a rule must be the smartest, most skilled group of people on the earth. I mean, if you believe every bad beat story you hear just during the first break of a major live tournament like the WSOP, then by the fourth or fifth hour, there is literally nobody alive who got their chips by getting the money in ahead. Nobody. You stick 1800 players in a big giant room and play some no-limit, there's just no way you can have 900 suckouts and only the 900 donkeys left who got it in behind. Shit, some of these stories you hear are just so outlandish, you just know they're at least partially if not totally made up. Do these people really think everyone else is that stupid? Yeah, I'm sure the guy called you down with K6 unimproved allin on the flop with nothing, then hit runner-runner 6s for trips to beat your flopped two pairs. And yeah, I bet the guy called you allin with AQ unimproved on the Ten-high flop and then went Jack-King for the runner-runner straight. I'm not saying I've never seen plays that bad (surely I have), but the odds of most of these stories being true -- or at least not omitting some material fact that makes what happened to them not close to as bad as they are making it out to be -- is astronomically low. My guess? A good half of the clowns making the walk of shame during the first couple of rounds, if they got runner-runnered, they probably flopped big and checked intead of betting a couple of times, basically forcing their opponents to catch up for free, and then got bounced and conviently "forgot" that they allowed their opponents to catch those free cards to eventually beat the speaker. And most of the guys who busted early who claim to have been "rivered" really took on a race with the JJ vs AKs type of hand, were ahead until the river, and then either the Jack, or the Ace/King fell on the last card to knock them out "on the last card". With the stories that you hear from every direction, all around you, hanging out in a place like the Amazon Room for an entire day during WSOP time, you just know a good portion of what you're hearing is total and complete bullshit.

So that's my rant for today. The next time you're playing in a live poker tournament, I challenge you not to be one of the clowns with the pervasive bad beat stories. I'm sure you will come off better to those who know you and certainly to anyone within earshot, but I guarantee you you will feel better too not spewing out these largely made-up and overblown stories of woe for all the world to imbibe.

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Blogger Bayne_S said...

4:28pm PT. They're on the second break. CK is holding steady with 9,450. Bayne, unfortunately, is out. He was good-natured about it at least: "I got all my chips in drawing dead." In Bayne's defense, he was short-stacked at the time.

If I remember correctly I had Q hi flush against K hi flush with the Ace and 2 babies on flop

5:49 AM  

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