Soft Play

Playing at a table with a friend can present many complications and even some opportunity for collusion. I have written several stories about playing with friends and how I feel you should play against everyone exactly the same. Last weekend I was on the road playing with a group of friends in a small card room in Palm Springs. Everyone signed up on the board and went to the tables they were assigned and at times I was seated in games with friends.

I played $1-3 No Limit with Vince for several hours and we never played a pot against each other. Vince and I play each other pretty tough when we are on the table together and neither of us has a problem with that.

After dinner, I was seated at a table with Tim and was actually right next to him. Tim was in the one-seat and I had the two-seat. This arrangement is ideal for collusion and sharing strategy. We would talk between hands and I admit we often discussed strategy and opinions of the previous hand. Anything said at full volume for the entire table to hear seems entirely appropriate. However, when you are lowering your voice to give information to only one player you are certainly running afoul of the rules.

As luck would have it I ended up playing a hand against Tim toward the end of the session. I was dealt pocket queens under the gun and opened for a raise making it $6 to see the flop. A couple players came along and Tim called the additional bet. The flop was J 8 8 and Tim bet out. I raised to make it $6 and the two players folded leaving Tim and I heads up. Ordinarily Tim would probably have re-raised with three eights. Tim just flat called and when the turn card, a king, came off Tim said, “I will check my full house to you”. I checked behind him saying, “You do not have to check it”. The river card was a queen making my hand queens full of eights. I quickly blurted, “I have a full house too”. Tim just stared at the board and said, “You have queens?” Tim checked and I checked on the river.

I felt Tim had played his hand soft because we are friends. I did not feel right with the way the hand was played or how the hand turned out. I showed Tim my queens and threw my hand in the muck. I mucked the winning hand. I gave the pot to Tim. The idea of soft playing friends is a tough one for me and I do not believe it should extend so far as to change the outcome of the hand. Tim was giving me air when he said he had a full house and the intent was not to let me draw out on him but to save me $12. I saved the $12 and everything worked out just fine in my mind.

Many people will disagree with mucking the winning hand at showdown. I have done it many times and I feel like it was the right thing to do.

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