Monday, January 26, 2009

The Neal Game

Neal is a big fat bald grumpy racist arrogant stupid white man. I first met him in an Omaha 8 or Better game in 2005/2006 when Danielle and I used to drive down to Bay 101 from San Francisco to play in said game. He was awful to deal with then, cursing at everyone, making rude and racist comments, and generally making the game not much fun. He was also awful at the game, playing virtually any starting hand and raising most of them, usually basing his actions on who was in the hand that he currently wanted to "go get". At the time I knew that he also played 20/40, but thought it was a pipe dream for me to ever be playing that high. Because you see, while Neal probably actually is the single most irritating player in the history of live 20/40 Texas Hold 'Em, he must also mentioned in any discussion of the worst.

He usually plays on the weekends, often Saturday nights or Sunday afternoons. His money comes from owning massage parlors (or so legend has it). In the last 6 months I've only managed to play with him thrice, twice by pure luck and once more because Hank texted to let me know Neal was at Bay 101 (so I drove over from Garden City) because I don't usually play at those times. You see, when Neal is in the game an entire social network is activated. Phones are dialed. Texts are sent. Posts are posted. Statuses are updated. Hell, twitters might even bet twitted. Grown men call their wives to delay dinner. Babysitters might pull overtime. They might as well have a giant spotlight in the shape of a fish on the roof that they can fire up when he pulls into the parking lot. I once saw 7 people request a change to his table before he had been dealt a hand. That's out of 27 players at 3 tables. Think about what that means. Someone with down syndrome could sit down and 7 people wouldn't ask to change to his table. Lamont Jordan sits down and hardly anybody notices. But Neal? "Floor Man, get me into that game!!"

First, we'll go with some choice Neal phrases and sayings. Then we'll move onto his playing "style", if you'll allow me some leeway in diction, and finally a few examples of how he took 6 racks of chips and transferred them directly to me over the course of 5 hours last night.

Neal is a racist, or at least says things that if taken at face value would certainly condemn him as such. After winning a pot against a Chinese player (whose English is sub-par) he yells stuff that sounds Chinese but is in fact complete gibberish. For example, this 260 pound balding white man with a red pony tail will stand up, addressing specifically his foil from the previous hand, whose chips he is now stacking because he went runner runner gutter gutter for a 7 high straight, and say loudly enough for 40 people to hear "Hung yung now no chow fat eh sum chee!!" Another of his choice expressions is "Damn it, I'm an American!" or "Don't hate me because I'm an American!" He also makes fun of Indian people (he had nicknamed one player at our table Bolly and swore at him repeatedly after one in fairness this player has an Indian accent and has been known to sing from time to time during a hand). If you're white, Neal assumes you're gay and will almost surely call you a faggot at some point in your session (I somehow escaped unscathed last night, possibly because I was quietly listening to my head phones stacking 9 racks of chips).

Neal is also abusive to the staff. He berates the dealers and, unlike most people like him who are so obnoxious that their night often ends via the ban stick, he doesn't tip anybody. Not the floor, not the dealer, not the porters, nobody. He wins pots and actually says stuff like "Can you chop this up?" while holding up a $1 chip. When the dealer shakes her head and says know he says "Ah well never mind then I'll keep it". During hands he says "Well we know she's (the dealer) rooting for you cause if I win she's not gettin' a dime!" Now I'm pretty tight about tipping, but I always give the dealer a buck when I win a pot (Except for one dealer whose specific mistake cost me 10 dollars because I had to pay the small blind twice. He still owes me 8 bucks). Neal never gives anyone anything, and he makes a big deal about the fact that he doesn't. I've never seen anything like it. Stockton Thunder, on the other hand, tips everyone in sight. He calls chip runners over to the table to tip them because the last time he tipped them (a few days ago), he ran well.

Now onto Neal's playing style. The first thing you'll notice is that there is about a 10% chance that at some point during the current hand Neal is going to expose one or both of his cards. He does this whenever he feels like it, rules or etiquette be damned. He doesn't even do it to his own advantage (as if flipping your hand face up could ever be to your advantage). I once flopped top set of Queens against him. The turn was a 3rd heart and he donked into me. I raised once more, and he turned his flush over and said "well, I gotta call you down". On the river I failed to fill up and of just quietly mucked my hand after he checked to me. Yesterday he went all-in, preflop, against 3 or so opponents, and said "I'm gonna play this one face up" and turned over his hand (which was like 7-high I think...the hand was humorous because he flopped a gut shot). Obviously this is horribly bad, since other players are going to play out the hand, and in fact had either of them called the floor man for a ruling I am 100% certain Neal's hand would have been killed. But there's the rub.....Neal is so bad, so truly, fantastically awful that nobody ever calls the floor on him. Ever. He is simply lighting so many chips on fire by live-straddling and capping blind and exposing his hand but still somehow missing value bets that everyone knows just to shut up and deal with it.

Yesterday I sat down at table 39, noted that Neal was on 37, walked toward the floor man and before I could reach him was greeted with "Let me guess, you want 37?". I thanked him and got a seat two to Neal's left (the almost Jesus seat) within 10 minutes. Neal played like his usual self, occasionally heating up and winning a few pots in a row, but generally playing so badly that it would be almost impossible for him to walk about of the casino with chips. My favorite hand went like this:

Neal open limps, and the aforementioned Bolly raises. Bolly (whose real name I don't know) is not stupid, and realizes that with Neal in the hand/game, most bets on hand ranges are off. I 3-bet red queens next in and we see the flop 4 handed (either a limper or one of the blinds called all the bets). The flop brings:

9c 8s 4c

This isn't great, but I can work with it. Boy can I work with it. Neal bets, Bolly raises, I turbo 3-bet and Neal calls. I suddenly look over and realize that Neal started the hand with less than 10 big bets. This could be awesome. Bolly declines his option to cap. This, too, bodes well.


Neal donks again, and Bali again raises. Folding is out of the question here....but to start calling down or continue to go bat shit, that is the question. I opt for full out bat shit mode and 3-bet. Neal caps before I'm even done with the 3-bet and says "Come on guys, catch up!". Bolly calls (he has some sort of combo-nut flush draw here like always and was hoping to get me to fold....Ace-High....Bad play on his part but whatever), I call, and Neal exposes his hand and bets the river dark, all-in. He holds:

Kc 8c pair and the second nut flush draw. The river blanks off, Bolly folds what he later said was "top pair and a nut flush draw" and I drag a monstrous pot. Neal swears in my general direction, but I don't really hear it as I'm busy stacking up this $1100 dollar pot. He calls it quits for the day, and I am sad. I manage to win one more humongous (this time heads up, my AKs cracking the mighty AQo) pot, then finish stacking up my 9 racks of chips. I then realize that if he really does play most Sundays my NFL habit is costing me a few hundred bucks a week :)

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