The weather reminds me of a freeze-out poker game

Dec 27, 2011 3:00 AM

The old Route 66 was called the main street of America before the name was changed to Interstate 40. It runs right through Oklahoma and winds all the way thru the middle of the US all the way to the California coast.

I have traveled this old trail many, many times and with the weather the way it is this week you would not want to be caught between Amarillo and Clines Corners in New Mexico. The snow is knee deep to a tall cow pony today.

Made me think today of this method of playing poker called a freeze-out!

I recall telling you about Bill Boyd, a member of The Seniors Poker Players Hall of Fame and legendary poker room manager of the old Golden Nugget poker room. But, I forgot to tell you something you may want to know.

Bill would play freeze-out poker for large sums of money with anyone. A freeze-out is when each player puts up a certain amount of money and, within the rules both players agreed to, play until one player has won all the money.

It’s similar to a regular poker tournament, except this is just between two players. Many times during a poker game, one player will become unhappy with the way another has played a hand and "unpleasantries" will be exchanged.

Sometimes, one of them will challenge the other to a freeze-out, just between the two of them.

In medieval days they would settle the dispute with a duel, which was conducted according to a precise set of rules known as a Code Duello.

In "American Duels and Hostile Encounters" (Chilton Books, 1963) it states, "The Code Duello, covering the practice of dueling and points of honor, was drawn up and settled at Clonmel Summer Assizes, 1777, by gentlemen-delegates of Tipperary, Galway, Sligo, Mayo and Roscommon, and prescribed for general adoption throughout Ireland. The Code was generally also followed in England and on the Continent with some slight variations. In America, the principal rules were followed, although occasionally there were some glaring deviations."

I have been challenged a few times and my usual response is, ok, but I get to make the rules and/or choose the weapons.

In this case it’s telling about one of Bill Boyd’s freeze-outs. I will protect the other player by just calling him "Sarge."

Well, Sarge was a big, full time gambler and would bet on anything at anytime and was quite successful at winning. So much so that the IRS wanted to be his partner and would follow him around the different casinos in Las Vegas. If they found him with any chips they would just reach down and claim them for the IRS’s part of their partnership.

Well, as you would guess, after the IRS picked up the chips in front of him a few times Sarge wanted to dissolve the partnership – so one of the rules Sarge made with Bill in their freeze-out contest was that Bill would hold all the chips in front of himself, and Sarge would call his bets out of Bill’s stack, so if Sarge’s partners (the IRS) were to come into the casino, Sarge would have no chips in front of him for the IRS to pick up.

I watched the contest with a long time friend of mine and Bill’s (Ted Horner, who went with me and Johnny Moss to Bill’s home in Las Vegas, when Bill was inducted into The Seniors Poker Players Hall of Fame). Ted and I asked Bill how he was able to keep track of which chips were his and which chips were Sarge’s.

Bill told us, "Well fellows, Sarge wanted to play real bad and I just trusted him to give me a fair count at the end."

As I told you before, I have kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland and have a license to tell tall tales, which means at least 97% of everything I say is true.

If I put up a line on this story, which side would you take? The line is 8-5 that it’s true. E-mail me your bet and, like Bill said of Sarge, you can trust me to give you a fair count.

OKJ Tip of the Week

Trust the other poker players to do the same thing over and over. As they play each hand, watch them – poker players are creatures of habit. They will repeat the same things over and over again.

Trust the players are telling you what the value of their cards are by what actions they take. If you can, make a book on them. In football they call these tendencies but in poker we call them tells. Trust the other poker player, his tells will be the same today and tomorrow, and you can take the money to the bank if you remember to Stay Lucky.