Playing the Angles

Angle shooting for poker blog

888 888pokerI was reading a wonderfully written article about angle shooting, the black sheep of deceptive poker practices.  Angle shooters don’t violate specific rules, but they trample all over ethical norms to gain an edge.  Angle shooters are poker’s worst douchebags; they don’t technically cheat so they cannot technically be punished, but require you to expend excess attention to avoid becoming a victim of their antics.  Examples of angle shooting include deliberately:

  • acting out of turn
  • placing incomplete bets
  • hiding large denomination chips
  • abusing the “worst rule in poker”
  • misstating hand strength at showdown without revealing their cards

Whether these acts are angle shooting comes down to intent.  I confess – perhaps, just maybe, I’ve done a few things that might be angle shooting, even if I lacked “criminal intent.”  Did I cross the line, when I…

  • …turned my head sharply to looked at the players on my left when it was my turn to act.  Some players will point to their left to indicate checking.  At this Omaha Hi-Lo game, the river card gave me the nuts.  I was trying to recall the turn betting action to decide if I could go for a check-raise, and glanced to my left to confirm who players was still in the hand and who was the aggressor on the previous round.  The next player interpreted that as checking and placed a bet.  When I said to the dealer that I hadn’t acted yet, the other player protested “he looked at me.”  Since when is looking at someone considered checking?  The dealer agreed with me, but then I checked anyway, knowing I would be able to check-raise when the action got back to me.
  • …slid a stack of chips forward in an obvious betting motion, representing a turned flush.  Before I released the chips, the villain announced “all-in!”  Whoops… clearly he has the hand I was representing.  Beep, beep, beep as I backed up the stack and nestled it safely with the rest of my chips.  To my surprise, the dealer didn’t force me to leave the bet out there and the villain didn’t challenge my pump-fake after he verbalized his raise.  He proudly showed the nuts, I kept my chips and no one complained.  Whew!
  • …took a few seconds to decide how much to raise with pocket rockets under the gun.  The next player then raised out of turn, not realizing I still had my cards.  Now I can confidently limp in, hope the raise gets lots of callers and  check-raise when the action comes back around.  Variations of this have happened multiple times, where a few seconds to consider my options has gained additional information from impatient players on my left. I don’t do this on purpose… but maybe I should???
  • …left a single card protecting chip behind an otherwise all-in push with a monster hand against a bigger stack.  I rarely verbalize my bets, preferring to bet with my hands and chips.  Wordlessly pushing forward a bet or my entire stack is normal.  If the villain either says “all-in” or puts out a larger amount, that makes me the final caller when I toss in the card protecting chip.  Now protocol requires the villain to show his cards first.  If I do this intentionally, so the villain cannot muck after seeing my hand first, have I become an angle shooter?
  • …looked at the villain with expectant raised eyebrows as if to ask “what do you have?” after missing a draw on the river and ending up with complete nothing.  When they said “I missed” and mucked first, the dealer pushed the pot to me and I can release my cards without ever showing.  Once I was awarded a small pot this way with only 6-high.

What do you think?  Am I guilty?  If not, please post a comment explaining your reasoning in great detail.  If yes, however, you might want to keep your opinions to yourself.  [Insert smiley face here]

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