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Barny Boatman
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Heard any good ones?

Report by Barny on Monday, 3 May 2004 at 6:05 am

You can say what you like about poker in States…and that’s one of the things I love about it; you can say what you like. Table chat, during and between hands has always been part of the game, and whether it’s TJ Coutier telling me about how he used to work the Canadian railroads playing Cribbage and Honeymoon bridge, or Phil Helmuth telling me what he’s thinking of calling me with to get a reaction, it’s all part of what makes the game here challenging and fun.
Some of them play too much to the gallery or get too emotionally involved, often they give away a lot about what’s going through their minds, but you never get bored. Today I had the pleasure of being at the same table as the quick thinking, fast talking hard drinking Layne Flack. If the waitresses didn’t pass the table often enough (‘Cocktails’ ‘Heard any good ones?’) he would disappear to the bar for ten minutes come back and play five hands blind – probably breaking a couple of players- and all the time he’d be cracking jokes grinning wildly head swivelling as he checked the rail for approval and his eyes darted round the table looking for his next victim. If ever a man played the player rather than the cards it’s Layne Flack. And this was limit hold-em. ‘I had two outs’ one guy rued as Layne raked in a pot. ‘No, you had three’ say’s Layne. ‘You forgot your best out…the muck!’
Sadly, the ‘Moody’ rule seems to be creeping into the American game. In the Vic in London any comment that can be taken - however obliquely – to indicate the strength of your hand or how you intend to play can result in your not being allowed to bet. This of course is an angle shooters charter as someone who wants to stop you betting can always seek a ruling as soon as you open your mouth. Obviously you can’t show your cards or state what you have in a multi-way pot, and you shouldn’t harass someone when they are making a decision, but beyond that I think anything should go. And in America- up to now – it does. This is the biggest cultural difference between American and European poker and it is the Americans who have got it right. With poker becoming a mainstream televised sport the table talk is also a big part of its popularity with viewers.
So, card room managers and tournament directors please think twice before fixing something that aint broke. We can all make what we want of what we hear and we don’t need protecting …even from Layne.

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