Las Vegas Gambling Tips: Poker: The Man With No Tells
On The Town With Vegas Vic
By: Victor H. Royer
Welcome to Las Vegas! My name is Victor H. Royer, but everyone just calls me Vegas Vic. I was named after that famous neon sign in Downtown Las Vegas, that cowboy with the hat on top of the Pioneer Club, always waving his hand and beckoning to his long love, Sassy Sally, on the other side of the street. I will be writing a few articles for AccessVegas.com, so I hope you enjoy them.
Poker: The Man With No Tells
He’s a legend, quietly going about his poker career with little or no fanfare. He has never been noted by the media and never written about, yet he is as famous in poker circles as any champion. Perhaps this is because he has never played in any tournament. That is his choice. He is an extremely private man, and shies away from public exposure. He is quiet and unassuming. He plays his game and says little. He is a consummate professional and a thorough gentlemen, well respected and liked by all who know him. His game is high-stakes hold-em, and sometimes seven-stud. Johnny Moss, Jack Strauss and Stu Ungar were among his friends. And so were, and are, many others.
He is a man who has spent a lifetime living in the night. He often laments that there are no poker tournaments for graveyard players. He plays from around midnight to around ten in the morning, often not even as late as that. Then he returns to his home and waits for the night to fall again. No one really knows why this is so, but perhaps it has something to do with his eyes. He has a penetrating gaze, and a powerful image at the table. But his eyes are weak, and sunlight hurts him. Those of us who know him think that this could be the result of a devastating injury he suffered back in 1965. But we don’t know for sure. He doesn’t talk about it. In fact, he rarely says anything about himself. What I know about him comes from tidbits he let go at the table, but mostly from others who know him, and played with him. His name is Henry, and we’ll leave it at that.
Johnny Moss once said that Henry was the hardest man to read he ever knew. There was no way to tell what he would do. He was “the man with no tells”. This doesn’t mean that Henry is a rock. Although Bill Smith once described him as “sitting bull”, this really isn’t Henry at all. It just depends on how the game is. And Henry is the master of adjustment. No matter how the game flows, Henry can pick up on each and every subtle nuance, each change in the flow of the table, and play accordingly. Loose and aggressive, passively aggressive, passive or as a rock. It all depends, but once thing you can be sure of … if Henry is in the pot, you’ll never know what he’s playing. And he’ll put you off your hand in a hurry. Stu Ungar once said that Henry is the only player he knew who could do to him what he could do so well to others. He was grateful that Henry never played in the World Series of Poker. And so were many other champions.
Henry is a hard man to figure. Why he lives like he does is a mystery. How he came to learn the game so well is likewise unknown. None of us – as far as I know – have been able to find out where he came from, and how he began to play poker. Once Sailor Roberts dropped a hint that Henry came from Australia, where he played poker with the jackaroos (cowboys) on the huge cattle ranges of the Northern Territory. But when Henry was asked about this, he simply smiled politely and raised the pot.
As the story goes, Henry was playing a pot-limit hold-em game in 1974, with a $25,000 buy-in. It was a private game, and at that time this was a lot of money. It still is, but these days there are much bigger games to be found. There were seven players total. Henry had the button. The pre-flop bet was $5,000.00. Every player called. Henry raised it $20,000.00, for a total of $25,000.00, which was his entire buy-in. Oh yes, this was the first hand of the game!
The other players were shocked. They sweated. The small and big blinds folded, and the original bettor called, followed by two others. The flop came: 6-7-2, of mixed suits. Of course all the players still in the hand at this point were all-in, so the turns and river were dealt without any further action. The turn card was a 10, and the river card a 5, neither of which made a flush possible, but a possible straight could have been there if anyone held 9-8. Showdown started with the original bettor. He showed a pair of Kings. The next man, who also called Henry’s raise, showed a pair of Aces. The next man mucked an Ace-high flush draw, and the next showed a pair of Jacks. Henry quietly turned over a 6-2 off-suit, and won the pot with two-pair. Needless to say, there was a ruckus. How could you play a 6-2 off suit!? How could you raise? Well, Henry just smiled politely and raked in the money.
And that’s Henry in a nutshell. You just never know what he has. This doesn’t mean that he always plays cards like these. His reputation was built on winning poker, and that he could not have achieved if he had always played cards like that. However, Henry was often heard to remark that when he plays poker he “plays the man, not the cards”. True, that’s a good way to look at it. Some of these sentiments found their way into the movie “Rounders”. But Henry was probably one of the first to successfully employ this strategy in serious money games. Nevertheless, Henry also knew the advantage of “luck” and the advantage of playing “against his image”. Both worked well for him.
These two factors combined well with Henry’s ability not to be read. His actions were always the same, regardless of what cards he held. His face always showed that mysterious half-smile. His motions were always the same, measured, unrelenting and steady movements. His voice never faltered. He was never angry, regardless of whether he was “run down” by a long-shot draw, or not. He never discussed hands, and never showed a hand he didn’t have to. He would not play tired, and he always left the game after either reaching his allotted hours, or after reaching his money-goal for the night. He has many friends in the poker world, but he never discusses strategy, or talks about the game in detail. He is a closed book. And that was it.
I say “was”, because Henry doesn’t play anymore. At least not as often, and no longer in the high-limit games, and no-limit games. He is tired now, and the years have eroded some of his skills. But he is still a formidable opponent. Often you can find him in the small-limit games around Las Vegas. Now mostly for fun. But there was a time when Henry was the best of them all.
Yes, this story could be a fable. But then again, it may not. Only Henry knows for sure.
Victor H. Royer, known as Vegas Vic, is the author of 42 books. Mostly known for books, articles, and columns on casino games and gambling, he is also the author of New Casino Slots, Great Gamblers: True Stories and Amazing Facts, The Great American Joke Book, as well as his works of Fiction, which include: Another Day, and the Western: Riders on the Wind. Versatile and multitalented, Royer is the creator, producer, and host of the Web-TV show Great Casino Slots, now showing at www.LasVegasLiveTV.com. He also composes music and performs under the names Glenn Diamond, Pappy Jones, Hans Dorfmann, and Miguel Armandaiz. For more information, please visit him at www.MoreCasinoDeals.com and www.GamingAuthor.com. Sign up for the Insider Advantage Newsletter at: http://www.accessvegas.com/membership
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(c) Copyright 2016 Victor H. Royer. All rights reserved. For syndication purposes, contact GSR Holdings Inc. at: [email protected]
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