Several years ago, I went to Las Vegas for Christmas. I usually play craps, but that time I played Texas Hold ’em. With real live poker players who saw me for what I was: their mortgage payment.
That’s not to say that I didn’t know what I was doing, because I do. And it’s not to say that I didn’t win a few hands, because I did.* But these players lived in Las Vegas and played poker all day, every day.
When the same players play together all the time, they come to know the habits of the regular players, and in this one particular weekday game, there was a guy who always raised on the flop. Always.
Unless he and the dealer had developed some sort of supercalifragilistic cheat that the casino had never seen before, the chances were very low that he always had a good hand. The cards just don’t fall that way. (If they did, it would be called winning, not gambling.) So this guy was raising just to raise.†
It’s a way of “buying the pot” by forcing the other players to either call or fold earlier than they would have (because there were still two more cards to be dealt and considered: the turn and the river). Maybe he had a good hand and maybe he didn’t, but no one could read him because he played the same way every time. And if he could get everyone to fold, he would get‡ a little money. It was a solid, if annoying strategy.
To keep this guy from raising and buying the pot, all of the other players ahead of him would check, which means they didn’t bet anything, which means there was nothing for him to see and raise. If he wanted to stay in the game, he would have to bet the amount of the big blind, and then the betting went around the table again allowing the other players who had checked to make the bet they wanted to make in the first place so they could see the next card.
Betting goes clockwise around the table, and this guy was sitting to the left of me, so after everyone checked, I would bet, and this guy would raise, and everyone else would fold, and I would lose my bet.
After about four or five hands, I got wise and started checking, too. And this guy would say, “The check’s at the bank,” and he’d toss his chips into the center of the table. Every single time. “The check’s at the bank.” “The check’s at the bank.” I can still hear his grating, derisive tone of voice. “The check’s at the bank.”
He wasn’t there to win big or to make a name for himself, but he took a fair amount of my money before I caught on to his game—and probably a lot of other people’s money, too.
In the gambling parlance of our times, these types of low-stakes gamblers are called grinders because they’re just grinding out a living a little at a time. His method wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t popular, but it got the job done. If he played all day, every day, I imagine he earned his mortgage payment in a week or maybe even in a day.
This is how I approach my knitting submissions.
I haven’t yet made a name for myself as a designer, so I knew it was a long shot that my Welligkeit Vest would be accepted by Twist Collective, but I didn’t let my low chance of success deter me from throwing some chips out there and hoping for the best.
The more I play the submitting game, the more acceptances I’ll have, and the more I’ll be saying, “The check’s at the bank.”
*For the Christmas Day poker tournament, which was a couple of days after this story took place, we started with 10 tables of eight players, and I was one of five players at the last table.
†And probably to get attention.
‡I hestitate to say he would win a little money because winning comes from besting another player with skill, not through bravado or bullying. (Also, this would not be considered bluffing because of the way he did it.)