In poker, deception plays a big part in being successful. In the local cardroom the social element allows opportunities for deception. In the same way that the confidence trickster manipulates people into parting with their money, so does the unscrupulous player.
Physical tells and table banter are parts of the game that are embraced by the community, but there are some moves used that are borderline. These are moves that could be allowed in terms of the rules, but are frowned upon by the players as unethical or unfair. This is known as “angle-shooting”. It can be wrong, horrific, even disgusting. Nevertheless, it is entertaining to watch.
With John Pham's antics at the recent WPT event resulting in the tournament director naming a rule after him, its time to look at our top four poker angle-shoots as seen on television.
In descending order:
4) The “Forward-Motion” - Levy vs. Fleyshman - WSOPE 2011
Levy uses a forward motion with his chips to suggest that he will call in an attempt to acquire a tell from his opponent on the strength of his hand.
It’s a move that is seen as unfair by many players and by the rules of some tournaments, as the video showed. But even with the benefit of replays in the WSOPE, the decision to punish the angle-shoot can have setbacks. Fleyshman did not notice the angle-shoot but two players out of the hand did and made the accusation which was agreed with by the tournament director. However, Fleyschman was bluffing and the forced call meant he lost a pot where he might have been able to win if Levy were allowed to fold.
3) “Of Course I Saw My Cards, It’s Poker” - Hellmuth vs Tony G - The Big Game
Here Tony G tells Hellmuth that he never looked at his hole-cards when he shoved. He then proceeds to mock Hellmuth after inducing a call. It’s confusing to figure out what was the biggest joke: Tony G’s remarks after the hand, the fact that Hellmuth took forever to call a shove with A-J if he was convinced Tony G didn’t look at his hole-cards, or that these two were in a bitter argument about etiquette, with their track records.
2) “Raise, No I Meant Call” - EPT Grand Final 2011
The tournament director is aware of the angle-shoot about to be used by Freitez, forces him to only min-raise and even tells Yanayt that he has used this same move in the tournament when he held the nuts. However, it doesn’t stop the opponent from calling with top-pair and Freitez gets away with it, to the disgust of everybody around the table. The cheat still prospers. A real super-villain play by Freitiz which didn’t look like it could be topped in any tournament, let alone the EPT.
1) Never Muck Your Hand - Thomas Reinkemeier vs Roland De Wolfe (Commentary in German)
Roland De Wolfe shows King-high, but only shows the King. Reinkemeier appears to indicate he beats the hand, then when Roland mucks he turns over Q-high. De Wolfe is furious and tries to indicate to the tournament director that he had showed a better hand, but because he mucked he was forced to concede the pot.
Reinkemeier shows the steps required to be an ultimate douchebag:
1) Trick opponent into mucking winning hand.
2) Show weaker hand and visually brag about what you did
3) Become a stickler for the rules when you quite clearly broke the rules of etiquette in front of everybody.
4) Be the only one celebrating about it.
Angle-Shooting In Online Poker
The live scene is not the only place where you can angle-shoot. Some online poker sites offer disconnect protection, where a player who is disconnected from the site at any time is declared all-in and the hand is played out so he can only win or lose what he had already committed.
Some players soon started to abuse the feature for their advantage. If they held a hand which they thought was ahead but they didn't wish to make decisions on later streets, they simply disconnected from the site and then logged back on after the hand was completed, saving themselves a further investment in the pot.
So now you've seen what the villains of poker try and get away with you can call them out on it and get on with playing your game. Or maybe you're already accustomed to this kind of trickery and take it in your stride.
Either way, the angle-shooters will always be there trying to trip you up.
Nice try guys.