“Verbal is Binding” means VERBAL IS BINDING

verbal poker action is binding

I’ve never played poker with the guy in Seat 1 before tonight. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Brent.” From the moment the game started, Brent has shown big hand after big hand, winning pots and accumulating chips. He’s aggressive, and a few times has been caught bluffing, which doesn’t seem to bother him. He’s in a good mood. Who wouldn’t be, stacking chips on top of stacks of chips? He makes trips, straights, flushes and full houses look so normal that I begin to think he’s playing a different game from the rest of us, one with which I am not familiar.

Even when Brent loses, he still wins. This is private house game of $1/2 no limit Texas Holdem. The house has a $500 Bad Beat Jackpot, paid to the sufferer of the bad beat only. To win the jackpot, you must lose a hand with a full house, aces over tens (or better), using both hole cards. Brent and another player get all-in on a flop of AQJ. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call the other player “Russ.” Russ turns over AJ, for two pair. Brent turns over QQ, for middle set. Whoops!

Russ lobbies for running the board twice or three times, but Brent isn’t having it. “Once!” he insists. The turn is another ace, a 2-out miracle for Russ. He erupts (“Mount Russmore?”) with excitement. The river is the case ace. Now Russ has quads! Amidst the shouting, one of the noncombatants points out that Brent’s hand is now aces full of queens, rather than queens full of aces. The $500 Bad Beat Jackpot is double the amount he lost to Russ in the hand.

It’s good to be Brent. Now his stack looks like about $1,200 +/-.

He continues yucking it up, enjoying his status as king of the hill, table captain, man of the hour, big cheese, Master of the Universe, top banana all mashed up into one.

A little later, opening the action, Brent says “six-hundred,” just before placing a raise to $6. Someone asks, “verbal is binding, right?”

Uh-oh…PLO poker game

The dealer, who for purposes of this blog I’ll call “Marco,” says the verbal action is, in fact, binding and Brent has obligated himself to a bet of $600, not $6. As the color quickly drains from Brent’s face and his $6 bet remains in front of him, the next players to act all hesitate… is Marco going to hold firm on this ruling? Should the proprietor be called over? Will Brent accepted the ruling without a fight? Does “verbal is binding” really mean VERBAL IS BINDING?

Marco was in the room at the same house game about three months ago when several of us discussed an apparent angle shooting incident broadcast on Live at the Bike. In that hand, a player known as Armenian Mike had his chips in a rack and slid the entire rack out while announcing “all-in” for a 10x pot-sized river bet, only to protest that he was obviously joking when another player snap-called with a full house.

Marco knows the rules and was clear and firm. “It’s a six hundred dollar bet.” Looking like a balloon who’s air has escaped, Brent acknowledged that he said what he said, and replaced his bet with six black chips.

After several folds, the action is on the player to my right. I’ve only played with him once or twice before. For purposes of his blog, I’ll call him “Ben.” Ben is squirming. He likes his cards. He says he likes his cards for $6, but not so much for $600. Ben doesn’t have $600 in front of him; his stack is about $250-275. By this time, I’ve peeked at my cards, hoping for… nope! Just garbage. Ben is still squirming. Finally he says call, too paralyzed by the situation to be able to move his chips forward.

Ben flips over A♠Q♠. Brent tables KT. Ben has a 60/40 equity advantage. Amazingly, nobody thinks about running it twice. For such a large pot, derived from Brent’s ha-ha-look-at-me-I’m-a-big-swinging-dick verbal declaration, no one brings up the option of running it twice or three times. In times of stress, the brain doesn’t always work so well, and this was pure oversight.

As Marco spreads the flop, the door card is a ten. Score a point for Brent. Behind the ten, however, a queen makes her appearance, as if to set the world right again. Ben’s hand holds for a full double up, which Brent handles with about as much grace as can be expected.

Later, Brent and the next biggest stack both flop sets and Brent loses another $800+. As the chips are pushed in the opposite direction, he remarks that he has still had a really fun time tonight. That’s the spirit!


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  1. Good catch, many thanks! It certainly was NOT an angle shooting attempt… edited post to reflect that properly. I’d fire my proofreader for that mistake, if only I had one… 😉

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