Sutra: "Any scriptural narrative, especially any
text regarded as a discourse of the Buddha."
-- American Heritage Dictionary
If I was named Roy, I could name neat stuff of great importance after myself, like Roy's Rules or Cooke's Edge Concept. But sadly
I was not born on the feast day of St. Roy. Since I'm stuck with what I got, I have to make the best of it. Welcome to the Badger Sutra.
The best-known sutra is the Kama Sutra. Written over a period of many years, the Kama Sutra sets forth the rules for love and marriage.
Many people still live by its basic teachings. So it shall be with the Badger Sutra. Here I will pass along some indispensable, critical,
universal, life-saving tidbits of poker sutra. Be warned. Have a pencil ready.
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The Chopper. I used to play with a guy named Dan. In one club he was known as Disco Danny. In another, since his income came from
collecting fallen timber to sell as firewood, they called him Woodchopper Dan, or "Chopper" for short. In either club he was also:
"Wow-what-a-liveone." Chopper never met a hand he couldn't play, or raise, or cap it with.
So are you sitting there thinking of some "any two will do" player you've played with somewhere? Lots of live ones in the world,
right? Well, Chopper was not a mere "any two will do" sort of player.
I used to deal two nights a week in a small, one-table club. Two shifts were perfect for me. I never wanted to work more. In fact, if
the boss wanted to rake me over the coals, instead of threatening to fire me, he'd threaten to give me more hours! The way it worked
was, I'd deal about 55 minutes an hour, then get a break for five minutes while the floorman or a railbird dealt a couple hands.
One night the game was on fire. I would have loved to play, but I was doing great on tips, about $40 an hour, so I wasn't complaining.
Chopper was raising and capping every pot on every street, and people were chasing along. Multiway action Omaha or Holdem
pots capped on fourth street were the norm.
It was about 4am when I got up to take my hourly five minutes. One of the regular railbirds sat down to deal a couple hands. I went to
use the restroom. When I came out, I passed Chopper going in. I stopped and talked to the floorman about the
rake the house was getting. This was a 5-10 game -- with a
5% rake, and an $8 cap! Pots were $300 or more before the turn, so I was raking the $8 almost every hand!
After chatting with the floorman a bit, I go behind the railbird to push him out and get back in the
dealer box. But they were still only on the flop this
hand, and the pot is particularly huge. All nine players are in, the board is coordinated, something like Js9s8c, with Chopper capping
betting. The turn card comes the king of clubs, making
two black flush draws. I'm thinking I'd like to have the QsTs or QcTc.
The action gets fast and furious again. One player bets, a bunch of calls, Chopper raises, people call two bets, the original bettor
reraises, nobody folds. It gets back to Chopper who says he'll cap it. And that's when I notice. That's when I can't believe my eyes that...
Chopper has no cards!!!
I look in front of him -- no cards. I look in his left hand -- no cards. I look in his right hand -- no cards. I look at the muck,
maybe they were accidentally pulled in -- but there is no muck! Everyone is in! Just the two burn cards are there.
I can't believe it. I remember not even being able to speak for a second. Finally I blurt out: "Chopper! Where are your cards????"
It's like the air goes out of the room. Everyone looks, including Chopper. He has no cards. The players next to him examine their
cards. Yes, just two apiece.
Slowly the laughter starts building. Everybody begins to see how this is the ultimate Chopper story. The railbird apparently saw
Chopper go into the restroom and dealt him out (never deal out the liveone). But when Chopper came out of the restroom, he didn't
trifle with the minor technicality of bothering to look at his cards, or even see if he had cards! Noooooo, not Chopper. He just
raised and reraised. And raised and raised and raised! Which brings us to the first contribution to the Badger Sutra: Be sure you have
been dealt in before you cap it on every street!
When Holdem-style games came to Los Angeles in the 1980s, for over a year no other county in
California played flop games except in Santa Cruz
county (due to some deal with the Sheriff). There were two cardrooms, usually with one game each. Both played dealer's choice --
Holdem, Omaha8, Omaha High, and Crazy Pineapple. As a dealer I'd start working at 7pm and deal until the game broke. I'd deal 50-55
minutes an hour and get a quick break from the floorman or a railbird.
About 5am one day, I was very tired because the floorman was in the game and stuck (and not wanting to deal) and there was no railbird
around who could handle the deck. So except for bathroom breaks I had been dealing for nine hours solid, and was more than a bit on autopilot.
Everybody was playing Omaha this night. When you are dealing Omaha to a full table, it is very easy for a dealer to "feel" the deck
and know when to stop -- a twenty-two card stub is too thick to stop, a twelve card stub is too thin to keep dealing. But this
particular hand, two players had gotten up at the same time. I made a mistake and accidentally dealt five cards.
The floorman -- let's give him a name to protect his anonymity, call him Jesse Rodgers -- was buried in the game. As I started to deal
the fifth card to the second player, Jesse explodes out of his seat -- his chair flips over, chips splash, he almost falls down. My
goodness, look at that, Jesse has AsAd2s3d. Heavens to Betsy, what bad luck. Once he regains his senses, Jesse tells me that in the
year he and I had been working together, he never saw me misdeal. Not once. Oops, bad timing.
Of course, I did misdeal at least one other time, in a similar situation, 4am, no breaks. In walks a stranger. Since we were the only
place in the state playing such games outside LA, many strangers were rounders, looking to feast on the locals. Naturally, some
strangers are clueless newbies. This guy buys a rack of chips and aggressively plays both his blinds all the way to the river, losing
both and buying another rack of chips. On his button he calls Crazy Pineapple (as did the previous player). This seems like a tell, no
newbie calls Pineapple. So I deal, but apparently somehow I manage to only deal him two cards (instead of three). The pot is capped
before the flop. Now everybody including Mr. Newbie discards a card -- which means Mr. Newbie is left with only one card! Still, that
doesn't stop him. He caps the betting on the turn and river.
Crazy Pineapple is played HiLo and this is a huge pot, so I'm stacking the chips because the board has come A8742, with two running
spades for a flush. Finally it comes time to show hands. Remember, Mr. Newbie only has one card. What do you think that card is?
He shows down the ten of diamonds!
And then there is silence. We look for his other card. We look on the floor. I look at the boss. Oops. (Actually for all I know I may
have dealt him three cards and he discarded two.) Mr. Newbie doesn't say anything. Apparently he thinks the ten of diamonds is a good
hand! The cardroom owner finally says that you need two cards to win, so he has a dead hand, but since it was a dealer error, the
house would refund his money... from the pot. No other player complains, probably because they are too busy licking their lips. Mr.
Newbie played three more hands, lost the rest of his chips, and silently left, never to be seen again.
See also Life's Rich Pageant,
Bad Beats and