I was playing 8-16 late one night, and our table had become short-handed. There were only five of us. Typically I enjoy playing short, as I feel I do a good job making the necessary adjustments for a smaller game, and that my opponents generally do not. Aggression becomes all the more vital at a short-handed table, as there will be fewer players in each pot and fewer monster hands to contend with. Raising pre-flop and continuation-betting to win the small pots is a very profitable strategy. Passive players get run-over at the short-handed games.
During this session, however, I was universally bricking. I would raise with A-8 of clubs and the flop would be K-Q-3, all red. I would raise with K-Q and the flop would be A-7-4. I would three-bet with 7-7 and the flop would be K-Q-J. And, of course, my opponent had an unfoldable piece of the board every time. It was becoming excrutiating! To add vexation to my vexation, one fortunate soul was winning every single pot we played. We must’ve gotten heads-up eight times in forty-five minutes. He won all eight pots. This statistic is frustrating in itself, but the man seemed to be altogether oblivious to his incredible fortune. There’s something particularly irritating about a man who, against all probability, wins 85% of the pots and yet doesn’t appear satisfied, appreciative, or at minimum, aware. He’s focused on the 15% of pots he’s losing. Hey, bro, I haven’t won one of the last twenty-eight pots!
We continued playing five-handed with similar results until something peculiar happened: all four of my opponents got up from the table at the same time. They made some vague allusion to a five-minute break as they all walked away at once. I was left alone at the table. It was so strange! I realize that if I had been winning, and as a result, in a better mood, this wouldn’t have irritated me as much. Because, however, it was 1am the night before I worked, I was icy-cold, stuck a rack, and losing to a sociopathic luckbox, I was very annoyed. I sat there awkwardly alone for ten minutes before one of the four players returned. And of course, he didn’t want to play heads-up. I just racked up and went home.
I wonder, though, what the responsibility of the casino is in this scenario. There is a third-man walking rule, of course, which is intended to keep enough players in the game to maintain cards in the air. But once all players have ignored this rule and left the table, what can be done? Furthermore, when one player returns and I’m ready to play, does this player now have the right to say he doesn’t want to? If there is one player at an open table ready to play, and there are seated players unwilling to play, does the game break? Am I allowed to move to another game? Maybe a game with seven or eight players? I don’t know these rules, as I’ve never confronted this situation before. Does anybody have any insight?
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WWW.JAYMIND.COMJacob "Jaymind" Westlin is a semi-professional limit hold'em player with a strong, sarcastic wit. Jaymind also frequently contributes to Minnesota Poker Magazine's monthly publication. Email Jaymind at email@example.com