I once wrote a couple of posts here about a famous mountain moonshiner named Popcorn Sutton. Popcorn's had some legal trouble lately, in part because he didn't seem to object to allowing TV folks a look into the way he makes illegal likker.
So I took particular interest a story we aired a few days ago about a moonshiner in Spartanburg County who was arrested for the second time. He's an old retiree who sells decent booze to pay for his wife's cancer treatment. When we asked his lifelong friend about the poor bastard he said something that seemed funny at first, "He's just like... a human being -- an honest human being. Well, he's not honest in the eyes of the law, but as far as we know it, Charlie Martin's No. 1."
If you play poker a stilly statement like that actually makes a lot of sense.
As a journalist, I'd say an honest reputation is one of my most valued assets. But I'm a liar at the table. People expect that.
In fact, the quickest way to tilt a table is to tell the truth a few times. Even honesty is deceptive when you use it properly. We all appreciate the value of deception in the game of poker.
That said, there is nothing that will drive you from the good graces of your tablemates faster than a reputation for "shooting angles" which stops just shy of calling someone a cheater outright.
I've been accused of it at times, but I like to think I shoot it straight. I'll play the meta-game sometimes but never outright break the rules. And I hate an angle shooter as much as anyone.
Something everyone in our homegames does, and I've seen it plenty on TV too, is call an honest two pair.
I have pocket 2s. The board is K 6 Q A K. I DO have two pair. So when I get called on a bet I could, and actually have, just said "two pair" without showing the hand. It's true. Although the insinuation is that I'm much stronger than I am. I suppose the goal is to make the opponent muck without bothering to see that my 2-pair is an underpair to everything on the board.
I don't think that is necessarily shooting an angle.
On the other hand, we have a kid who sometimes shows up at homegames who will try something a little more sinister, and less honest.
He may have J9o on a board of J, 7, 4, K, A.
Once called down to the river he'll declare "Top Pair" without showing his hand. What he "meant to say" was "top pair on the flop" and it isn't top pair anymore. Again this is designed to make an opponent muck without seeing his cards.
It is also being a liar. And cheating.
Otis wrote a great post about a similar bastard we once encountered in Tunica called, appropriately enough. The Angle Shooter.
I hate cheaters. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that of all types of people, a gambler hates a dishonest man the most. That's how we roll.
I totally understand what the moonshiner's friend was trying to say.
As for our local angle-shooting friend, he played his last hand at one underground game after pushing all his chips in on the host who immediately called.
Angle-shooter then pulled his chips back and started wondering aloud how much he wanted to bet, as if he was only CONSIDERING going all in.
The operator of this undergound game allowed our angle shooter to pull his chips back.
Then he cashed him out.
And banned him from the game forever.