Some people think that all poker players are liars. All poker players sometimes lie; that’s definitely true. But in my experience most players don’t often lie during a hand. They may misrepresent their hands, or mislead you, especially after the hand is over, but seldom will they tell an outright lie while a hand is going on.
But even if people might avoid lying, many people love to verbally and ambiguously mislead. Ways of misleading, but not directly lying, are saying things like:
- “I’ve got a good hand.” (Good in comparison to what?)
- “I’ve got it.” (Okay; what is it that you have?)
- “You should let this one go.” (Why should I let it go?)
- “I’ve got K high,” when they’ve got pocket kings.
- “I’ve got a pocket pair,” when they have quads.
- “I’ve just got a pair of queens”, when their pocket queens makes a set.
A player who successfully misleads opponents accomplishes several things: he avoids the pain of lying, he doesn’t look like an asshole, and, of course, he gets his opponents to act contrary to their best interests.
Jamie Gold is a perfect example of someone who excels at (or at least very much enjoys) misleading his opponents. He seldom out-and-out lied during his talkative performance at the 2005 WSOP (or his television appearances since). He did not want to appear an asshole by lying. Rather, he used ambiguous and misleading talk to try to achieve his goals. (And of course ran hotter than God.)
Take as a case in point a hand from the no-limit cash game show Poker After Dark where Jamie Gold successfully misled Alan “Boston” Dvorkis. Alan was pretty short-stacked and raised with QT. Jamie looked down at pocket kings and raised Alan all-in. Jamie kept insisting to Alan that all he (Jamie) had was King high. Gold even gets more specific and says (twice) that he doesn’t have KQ. He even shows Paul Wasicka his cards and asks him if he has KQ; Paul honestly says “nope”. Then Alan says he’s getting the right price if Gold has AK; Gold says “I said I have K high; I don’t have AK.” (It’s such a ridiculous, retarded bit of poker you really have to see it to believe it.)
These statements led Alan to eventually call, thinking that if Jamie had KJ or weaker then Alan was getting acceptable odds. When Alan called, Jamie flipped over his kings with the sheepish announcement, “The highest card in my hand is a king.”
Needless to say, Boston wasn’t pleased with this. But Jamie Gold could successively counter any accusations of being extremely under-handed with the argument that he had technically been telling the truth. I think this is an example of the kind of thoughts that go through your typical verbally tricky player’s mind; they want to trick you, but they don’t want to have to lie to your face to do it. They want to get the thrill of being a liar and/or cheat without actually being one.
Being familiar with the type of tricky, smug player Gold is, Boston could have easily deduced Gold had a pair of kings in that spot. When Jamie Gold tells you, “I’ve got K high,” which is an ambiguous statement, your wheels should start spinning as to why he’d tell you this. It would seem like a really mean-spirited thing for Gold to straight-out lie in that spot. With some players this could still be possible, but in this situation (on television, in a seemingly friendly game of “equals”, and the fact that Gold is a “world champion”) I would consider a bald-faced lie very unlikely.
At the same time, Gold is not the type of player to straight out tell you his vulnerability in such a situation. When faced with such an ambiguous statement in such a weird spot, intended to make you think Gold is weak, a pair of kings could be logically deduced.