I’LL BE KER-JIGGERED IF I CAN FIGURE OUT WHICH
I look at my cards again. I slowly tilt one card’s corner, then raise it across, exposing its partner. A pair of Jacks – one of the trickiest hands to handle – one of the most likely to get busted on. And here I am calling a raise and a call pre flop. I know I have Cut-Off beat but UTG is a mystery.
Saying that, I know he is coming in. No way a man that composed yet excited can fold his hand. And as sure as I know he isn’t folding, I know the Cut-Off Raise would stun him to calling station status. He is just that type of player. But the original tell has him on one of the top pockets. My Jacks are facing Ace-Queen minimum and a crazy bluffer who would play hard with any two cards.
The feeling in my stomach is intensifying. That moment when something is coming and you don’t know where it is heading. Something big and powerful and nigh unstoppable. It is going to hit one of us. I accept that barring an exceptional improvement to my hand, I am probably going to muck what may well be the winning hand on the flop.
I would be a fool to call a substantial bet into this flop and a substantial bet is almost definitely coming. One more time out of a million I lament the only live game is the Homies; why can’t these people just play by the book, play predictably and let me clean up? It is all so unfair. Hellmuth was right when he said poker is unplayable against people who have no respect for the game.
I burn a card then throw out the flop, pretending to look at Cut-Off but really studying UTG. Did his cheek muscle just twitch? Did his knuckles whiten? Am I reading too hard? No. The third card has had some effect on him. Meanwhile Cut-Off has his head bowed and still hasn’t looked at the flop.
Short Stacked Seamus is right. People should look at the board more and stop trying to gain some advantage by not looking until it was their turn to act. It slows the game down and by the time it hits you, you’re being stared at for any tells anyway.
UTG checks softly. Cut-Off still has not moved, marionette-doll-still. I smile a little and roll my eyes at UTG. HE wants attention, I’m thinking, He wants people to notice. All at once his body jerks into motion – decision made. THREE blue chips, each one worth twenty quid. My eyes widen at the power play.
He must see the same tells, I see from UTG and know that the safe player has something big. By betting into his check, surely to be raised at least the minimum, Cut-Off would be pot committed to go all in. He just set out his stall. Either he has it or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, he must not see the tells I see and think this is a pot for the taking. Pretty ballsy but not improbable, let alone impossible. Time slows down. But if he has it…
If he has it, the move is either exceedingly clever or exceedingly stupid. Clever to make people fold their weak draws, take it down, move it along. But he has never thought like that a day in his life. He is always the big score. So his version of being clever would be to send a message of ‘GO AWAY!” which of course would entice further action.
Now I have Dan Harrington muttering in my ear, “They are either playing many levels above me, or many levels below me. I’ll be ker-jiggered if I can figure out which.”
I am pushing my hand slowly, subconsciously, inevitably to the muck. I don’t get there. What happens next has never happened to me before. UTG announces a raise, a three-bet to one hundred and eighty. He thinks I have mucked my hand. He thinks the cards in my hand are part of my chore of being the dealer. I look him in the eyes. “ I’m still here, chap.” He looks at me, through me, and then turns back to Cut-Off. “I said raise.” A re-raise that is going to be put all in, I have option still and the pot looks huge.
And I still haven’t looked at the flop…