STRATEGY

Live Poker: Angle shooting and how can you avoid it

You are sat in a 1/2 blinds cash game. The player across from you is very talkative and brash he keeps saying such things as “I can call, if the player behind me also calls”. At this point the dealer ought to of given this player a warning or a penalty. Unfortunately, dealers and tables aren’t always as hot at punishing angle shooting or speech play as they should be. In this example, what you have experienced is angle shooting. The player is trying to gain an unfair edge by using underhanded methods to take advantage of inexperienced players.

Angle shooting can verge from outright cheating to marginally legal, but clearly unethical and ungentlemanly. To protect yourself from angle shooting, you first need to understand common angle shoots (or angles as it can be shortened to) and how they will occur.

Angle Shooting

Incomplete call

One possible angle shoot revolves around card room’s policy on incomplete calls. I.E. if a player pushes forward less than the total chips for a call at the river, they can then wait for the opponent to show their hand and if they win collect the pot. If they lose, they can dispute the call, and say they only wanted to call for that many chips and not put in the extra.

You can safeguard yourself from this angle. Either by asking the player to agree verbally to call (this is now binding to the amount you have put in) or verbally declaring your bets in the first place. This way the player can not dispute the value as they heard it was a certain size. Lastly, if you are unsure before flipping your hand over at the river, ask the dealer if they have put in the correct amount of chips.

Ratholing

Another possible angle shoot involves the player who wins a pot on a cash table. They will attempt to remove chips from play (this can be known as ratholing). This is especially bad because it is removing money from the table and making it impossible to win back this money. It also decreases chips in play so the table will play less deeply. This will also reduce the ability for professional players to make money, impacting their bb/100 and hourly rates.

Most casinos should have strict rules against ratholing, and although it is hard to keep track of how much opponents have in each of their stacks. If you suspect someone, ask other players at the table or the dealer how much that player should have in front.

Ambiguous Hand Gestures

Now you know how random a player’s action can be, that has to be taken to mean a check or bet/raise. Tt ranges from hand swishing to tapping chips to tapping the table to nodding. Due to the wide range of different physical possible actions. The dealer then has to take it as either a bet, fold, call, raise or check. It is possible for players to angle where they do particular hand movements. Then they wait for the player behind to act, giving them unfair information before saying that they wanted to do something different.
To protect yourself from this angle shoot, if you are behind this player to act, and you are unsure if they have committed, ask them if they have had their turn. Alternatively, ask for a ruling from the dealer that binds this players movement to an action.

This angle shoot can go as far as to see the next card. Before saying they haven’t had the option to check yet. When this happens, the card is shuffled back into the remaining cards in the deck. Then a new turn or river dealt in its place after the action has been resumed at the player and onwards. Mostly I’d like to think that if the player waits for four others to act behind them and a new card to be dealt, then it’s a clear sign they are either paying little attention to the game or it’s an angle.

Speech Play out of turn

While the previous few examples exist because the player has used a lack of speaking to fool players, this shoot angle uses speech to declare out of turn on new board cards that the card has helped. For example “That’s my flush” when the 3rd heart arrives on the river. The player making this play is hoping the other players will either check into them or fold because they believe they can’t win.

If faced with this angle, and the dealer has not warned the player, ask for a ruling against the speech play, also ask if the players hand is now dead.

Calling Clock

Meanwhile calling the clock because it’s during a tournament or a cash game and the player has had adequate time to make a decision that is appropriate to the money involved is fine and correct. Deliberately calling clock far too soon, to fluster the opponent into making a rash decision or trying to get the dealer to count clock too early, is an angle!

To stop this shoot angle, most card rooms will have a reasonable time elapsed before being able to count clock. However, this will not halt the player asking for clock. The best thing to do is ignore players calling clock until a floor staff comes over to notify you a clock will start.

Slowrolling

At showdown, when a player has clearly the best hand and waits for another player to show hands first, to gain information or to tilt players who think they will win the pot, it is an example of an angle shoot.

Although not strictly illegal, Slowrolling will earn you a bad reputation at the tables. This will make people less keen to play with you.

To combat slow rolling, the person who had last aggressive action should have to show their hand first. Furthermore, if you notice someone likes to slowroll, wait to show your mediocre hand after they have shown theirs.

Seeing a Players Hole Cards

If you are sat down and see a players hole cards exposed because of the way they are holding them, because the rest of the table doesn’t share the same information, it is an unfair advantage.

You should tell players if you see their hole cards. Likewise, you should inform newer players if they are holding their cards in such a way that other players might be able to see them.

Angle Shooting Summary

In summary, every poker player will probably attempt to use angle shooting, either accidentally or on purpose, by being aware of common angles and how to combat them you can help protect yourself from another player gaining an unfair advantage. If in doubt, always ask the dealer to clarify rulings.


Greg has been playing poker for the last 7 years, you can currently find him on Cash Game tables from £20nl-£100nl under the username BarrattG1. He currently writes poker articles and does coaching of micro stakes Mtt and Cash players. He uses a generally sound mathematical approach to odds and poker and uses this in conjunction with meta-game to create spots to profit from.


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