Falling victim to angle shot in poker is no fun

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In Part I, we defined Angle Shooting and gave some examples. Today, let’s discuss two occasions when I may have experienced Angle Shooting. There may have been others, of which I am not aware.

I have little doubt the first occasion was a typical case. The second occasion is rather controversial. Was it an Angle Shoot, outright cheating, or perfectly legitimate?

My first experience came years ago when I still played 7-card stud, in a low-limit game at the Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, Calif. I connected with two middle-pair on the flop, a fairly decent hand.

After the last card was dealt, my opponent, a middle-aged woman who was a loose-aggressive player, open bet from an early position. I called. She looked at me with a forced smile, and then declared, “I have a straight.”

As I picked up my cards, preparing to muck them, the dealer glared at her; and, in a loud, clear — and angry — tone of voice, ordered her, “Turn up your hand!” She hesitated, and then turned up four-to-a-straight. She had been drawing to a straight but failed to connect. She seemed embarrassed — or pretended to be, “I am so sorry. I made a mistake.”

A player seated to my right, turned to me, and, in a low voice, told me: “She has done that before.” I assume she was trying to Angle Shoot me out of play. In my mind, without doubt, after announcing her “straight,” she was waiting for me to fold. Then, she would not need to show her hand.

Later, I realized it was a typical case of Angle Shooting. I tipped the dealer well; I was thankful for his protection. And it was a good-sized pot.

My second experience took place several years later. ­After moving to low-limit Texas hold’em, I was playing at the ­Normandie Casino in Gardena, Calif. I was dealt King-Queen in the hole and called to see the flop. A King fell on the flop, giving me top pair, with an otherwise weak board.

A loose-aggressive player in the Big Blind opened the betting. I raised from my middle position. Several opponents called my 2-bet, including the two players to my immediate left.

I had never before played against them. They both seemed to know each other. And they played most hands, so I figured that they were both loose players. Otherwise, I knew very little about them.

The turn was a blank — three small/medium unconnected, unsuited cards. I was sure my pair of Kings was well in the lead.

The Big Blind checked. As I picked up my chips to bet, the player to my immediate left shouted, “check!” Then, immediately after, without pause, the next player also shouted, “check!” Bang, bang! With the chips in my hand, poised to bet, I continued to complete my bet. 

At that point, the player to my immediate left, protested aloud, “there were two checks before he bet,” referring to me. The dealer promptly picked up my bet and returned it to my stacks, explaining, “Too late, there were two checks after you before you bet.” So, my opponents got a free card to see the river. Otherwise, I suspect, they would have folded to my bet on the turn.

The river was a three. This time, I quickly bet out when it was my turn to declare. But now, the player to my left raised it up. I was the only one to call. He turned up pocket threes.

Angle Shooting, or just outright cheating? I wasn’t sure. Was the dealer a party to it? Collusion? I complained to the poker room manager — to no avail. But, I did notice a few weeks later that dealer was no longer working at the casino.

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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