I returned to the Commerce Casino outside Los Angeles for another poker road trip last week. As usual, the place was packed, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, when every table was full — remarkable considering the place has over 200 of them!

In case you forget you’re in California while playing at Commerce, you’ll be reminded quickly when someone at the table orders an avocado milk shake or someone else is describing their latest juice cleanse. On this trip, I mostly played the $5-5-10 pot limit Omaha game, which always has lots of action. I also spent a few hours in a fairly loose $5-10 no-limit Hold’em game, which is where the following hand occurred. Before I get to the hands, let me set the scene.

One of the players was a local regular I call Loudmouth Bob (I don’t know his real name). LMB liked to talk. To show everyone he was the best poker player in the world, he’d predict the cards other players had on almost every hand. Most of the others, like me, never showed their hands unless they had to, so we had no evidence supporting LMB’s claims, but that didn’t stop him. I didn’t believe him for one minute, but at least he provided some entertainment, although he had an annoying tendency to slow down the game by pretending he was facing a tough decision virtually every time it was his turn. After he folded, he had to tell us what his hand was and why he had to think so long. Nonsense. He just liked the attention.

Now, to the hand in question.

I was in the cutoff position (one seat to the right of the dealer button) and everyone folded around to me. I looked down at the queen and jack of clubs and raised to $35. Not the strongest opening hand, but perhaps good enough to steal the blinds, and if not, certainly playable. The button folded, Loudmouth Bob called in the small blind and the big blind folded, leaving $80 in the pot. The flop was ace-queen-six rainbow (different suits). LMB checked, and since I’d hit my queen, I fired a $50 continuation bet. He went into his thinking act, then raised me to $175. I was seriously thinking of folding and giving him credit for an ace, but first I looked down the table to see how many chips he had in front of him. When he noticed me eyeballing his stacks, he purposely messed them up, leaving an unruly pile of yellow $5 chips.

This is what’s known in the poker world as A Dick Move.

From the way he did it and the way he acted, I had a very strong feeling that he didn’t have much of a hand and was trying to steamroll me with a bluff. I asked how much he had, and he replied, “I don’t have to tell you.” That’s true, but in most poker rooms, you do have to keep your chips stacked neatly so any opponent can glance over and estimate the total. I told him that, no, he didn’t have to tell me, but he could at least pile them up so I could guess. He refused. I turned to the dealer and asked him to call a floor supervisor. My attitude now was that if LMB was going to act like a jerk, I’d get an authority figure involved. The floor guy came over, I stated my case, and LMB interrupted to loudly declare that he only had yellow $5 chips and no white $100 chips, and that I should be able to ascertain how much he had. Unfortunately, the floor guy let LMB browbeat him into agreeing, and told me that he did not have to stack his chips.

Side note: a few hours later, I asked two other floor supervisors for their opinions on this, and they both told me that the first floor guy had been completely wrong. He should have made LMB stack them up.

Now, I had to make a decision, and I felt like my original read was correct: if LMB did have a big hand, he wouldn’t have gone to all this trouble to intimidate me, and he had a reputation for being full of crap. Still, I paused for a few more seconds until LMB stared at me and said with a snarl, “Well????” That’s when I announced I was all-in, putting the pressure on him by representing a really big hand. To my delight, LMB shrunk back in his chair. Yes, I’d called his bluff. Now, was he going to risk all of his chips to try to save face? He dug out his cards from under the chip mess, looked at them twice, realized everyone at the table was watching him, then shrugged his shoulders and said, “OK, I call.”

The turn was a three, and the river was another three. At that point, LMB had to show his cards first: jack-ten off-suit. Yep, he’d been bluffing the whole time and then missed his gutshot straight when a king didn’t come. His jack-high couldn’t stand up to my pair of queens.

At this point, the dealer looked over at my stack, which had more than $1,500 in white and yellow chips. LMB clearly didn’t have that much, so the dealer pulled in all of his chips and pushed them towards me. At that point, I made a show of counting out exactly how much LMB had lost — $715 — and announced it to the table.

As for Loudmouth Bob, he sat there in stunned silence for about ten seconds before asking a casino employee to bring him another $1,000 worth of chips. Then — and this is the best part of the story — LMB shut up and didn’t utter a syllable for the next twenty minutes.

I didn’t say anything else, either, but the guy on my left, another local regular who’d apparently had enough of LMB, looked at me and quietly said, “Nice read. I was rooting for you.”

You’ll find more of my Poker Stories here.