There are certain house rules that, if you ignore them, you can be penalized or even kicked out of the poker room. And then there are unwritten rules that are frowned upon by most who take the game of poker seriously, especially those who play poker for a living. Those unwritten rules, which go against poker etiquette, can fall into the category of angle shooting. An angle shoot is an act that gives a player an unfair advantage, even if that advantage isn’t technically gained illegally.
There are many ways to angle shoot, and we’ll explain some in this article. If you find someone at your table angle shooting, you should immediately call them out. Often times, you can convince the floor manager to give that player a penalty, or possibly even have the player removed.
Examples of an angle shoot in poker
If you’re considered attempting to pull off an angle shoot, don’t do it. Well, unless you want to be ridiculed by everyone else at the table. The fact of the matter is, some angle shoots help a player win a hand. Why else would you risk your reputation by trying one? But you’ll have a hard time living down the attempt, so angle-shooting probably isn’t worth the risk.
1. Hiding chips
One common way of angle shooting is to hide your high-denomination chips behind a big stack of lower denomination chips. Some players try this in cash games and tournaments. In some cases, it happens just because the player is being careless or not paying attention. Other times, a new poker player does it because they don’t understand the rules. But in many cases, the player is trying to be sneaky.
The reason it’s against the rules to hide your big chips is because it is unfair to your opponents if they don’t know how much is in your stack. Let’s say your opponent has $1,000 in his stack and only has a marginal hand, but thinks your stack is only about $200, so he moves all-in because he isn’t worried about losing too much. But you’re actually sitting there with $1,000 as well, and your big chips are hidden. You make the call with a monster hand and take down a $2,000 pot.
Doug Polk exposed a similar scenario in 2017 when Alec Torelli got caught hiding big chips on “Poker Night in America.” Hiding the chips cost his opponent $20,000, and Torelli never apologized for the obvious angle shoot.
At the time, Torelli was a respected member of the poker community. He was a well-known poker coach with many students and was a regular on some live-stream shows such as “Poker Night in America.” After that incident, which Polk exposed on his YouTube channel, Torelli’s reputation within the poker community was tarnished. You rarely see him on social media or on any live-stream shows any more. You don’t want to become the next Alec Torelli. Your reputation isn’t worth winning one pot.
Another lame way of angle shooting in poker is to mis-disclose the content of your hand at showdown. In this case, one player bets, another player calls, and the bettor then claims to have a bigger hand than they actually do. They’re hoping to induce the opponent to muck their cards. In most cases, players know to wait until the bettor flips over (tables) their cards before mucking a hand, for this exact reason.
Once your cards are in the muck, your hand is dead. Although this type of angle shoot isn’t against the rules at most card rooms, it’s frowned upon by just about everyone who cares about the integrity of the game.
3. Pump fake
One other common example of an angle shoot in poker is to pump-fake bet. This is done by pushing chips forward when it’s your turn to act, without advancing your chips beyond the line. In this case, the rule is technically that there is no bet unless you verbally announce it beforehand. But if you don’t verbally announce a bet and push your chips forward beyond the betting line, the floor manager is likely to rule that no bet took place.
The purpose of this type of angle shoot is to gain information about the strength of an opponent’s hand. By making it appear that you are betting before you actually do bet, some players may give off a tell. For instance, they may quickly put their chips into the pot. In this case, it’s clear your opponent has a monster hand, so you can take back your bet since it wasn’t a legal wager. Other times, the angle-shooter may notice their opponent acts quickly when facing the fake bet. The opponent doesn’t flinch, so the angle-shooter can continue pushing their chips forward, expecting their opponent to fold.
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