Weird Ethical Spot in Mixed Game

Jimulacrum

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Ran into a weird ethical dilemma during an online cash game tonight. Four-game rotation, but the two stud games got put next to each other due to software learning curve. Years-old home game migrating to online temporarily. Game's 3/6 fixed limit, 4-bet cap but unlimited raises if you start the round heads-up.

We've just finished a round of Stud 8 and started Razz. Hand quickly whittles down to me and Villain, who is a relative newcomer the host has invited from another game. I don't believe I've ever met him in person, nor played with him online. It's semi-relevant that I've been getting hit with the deck (and playing well) all night.

Hand plays out pretty normally until fourth street. Villain takes a weird line considering he just got bricked. I suspect he doesn't realize the game has changed, but he slows down, so it's whatever. Generally speaking, I consider it fair game to be the beneficiary of someone not realizing the game has changed. But I would say that this spot is different.

On fifth street, he pairs his queen on board and starts reraising to infinity. He's technically not stone dead against me based on his board alone, but at best he's a very thin runner-runner draw, and based on what I'm seeing, he's likely holding a high hand that cannot possibly win. Strategically, the play is to keep raising. No question. It's about the best spot you can imagine in poker.

As you can see in the hand history, I slowed down at 6 bets. It just didn't feel right to take advantage beyond that point. I put in a bet on each round after that and let him raise it once. That felt justifiable. I had the best hand. It would've been silly to not bet my winning hand due to another player's misunderstanding of the game. But I couldn't make myself push it further than that.

Turns out he had QUADS, and he likely would have put his whole stack in the middle if I'd opened the door.

What do you all think? How would you handle this?

Names have been changed to protect the degenerate.

Game: Limit Razz (100 - 500) - Stakes 3/6 Ante 1
Seat 1: Player 1 (295)
Seat 3: Player 2 (110)
Seat 4: Host (217)
Seat 7: Villain (269)
Seat 8: Jimulacrum (630)
Player 1 posts ante 1
Player 2 posts ante 1
Host posts ante 1
Villain posts ante 1
Jimulacrum posts ante 1
** Hole Cards ** [5 players]
Dealt to Jimulacrum [6c 2d]
** 3rd Street **
Dealt to Player 1 [9s]
Dealt to Player 2 [As]
Dealt to Host [Jc]
Dealt to Villain [4d]
Dealt to Jimulacrum [7h]
Host brings in for 1
Villain raises to 3
Jimulacrum raises to 6
Player 1 folds
Player 2 folds
Host folds
Villain calls 3
** 4th Street **
Dealt to Villain [Qd]
Dealt to Jimulacrum [8h]
Jimulacrum bets 3
Villain raises to 6
Jimulacrum raises to 9
Villain raises to 12
Jimulacrum raises to 15
Villain calls 3
** 5th Street **
Dealt to Villain [Qh]
Dealt to Jimulacrum [5c]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12
Jimulacrum raises to 18
Villain raises to 24
Jimulacrum raises to 30
Villain raises to 36
Jimulacrum calls 6
** 6th Street **
Dealt to Villain [8d]
Dealt to Jimulacrum [3h]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12
Jimulacrum calls 6
** River **
Dealt to Jimulacrum [7c]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12
Jimulacrum calls 6
** Pot Show Down **
Villain shows [Qs Qc 4d Qd Qh 8d 8c] (Lo: QQ884)
Jimulacrum shows [6c 2d 7h 8h 5c 3h 7c] (Lo: 76532)
Jimulacrum wins Pot (168) with 76532
 
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BarrieJ3

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type in chat the game is razz and leave it at that

I would not have continued without saying something first once it became obvious he was playing the wrong game.
+1, easy peasy. I have very little experience compared to all here.

Even then I've been able to catch when we've had someone jump in and not realize a game was split pot or high only. If noticed, especially if we're going headsup, usually just send a little notice in game chat.
 

FDLmold

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"Dealt to Jimulacrum [5c]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12 "
is where I would have mentioned the game was Razz. 100% obvious his best hand at that point is A24QQ and you don't raise that against a 785 showing.
 

Eriks

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"Dealt to Jimulacrum [5c]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12 "
is where I would have mentioned the game was Razz. 100% obvious his best hand at that point is A24QQ and you don't raise that against a 785 showing.

I agree. For a private game, that is. Otherwise I think a simple "ty" afterwards is good enough.
 

BGinGA

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"Dealt to Jimulacrum [5c]
Jimulacrum bets 6
Villain raises to 12 "
is where I would have mentioned the game was Razz. 100% obvious his best hand at that point is A24QQ and you don't raise that against a 785 showing.
Same here. I type in "game is razz", pause to give him time to read it, and then re-raise to 18. After that, I'm off the hook ethically, he's been notified and is on his own, and I'm pounding the pot with no mercy.
 

Pinball

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In my humble opinion you only have two options:

1. As soon as you see he plays the wrong game you mention it in the chat. That's fair for a friendly game and you don't hurt anyone's profit because you are heads up with him.

2. You take adventage off the situation and get max. profit. It's not agains any rule. Is it ethically right? That's another questions.

Your middle solution is strange. Getting profit but not max just to be friendly... it neither fish nor fowl...
 

grebe

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First reply is the best.

I would like to add that I am impressed and jealous that you can spread a limit game @3/6.
 

Jimulacrum

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Gotta say I'm a little surprised at the responses. I expected some measure of "Tell him it's Razz," but not such an overwhelming number of responses to that effect. That approach crossed my mind, but I dismissed it along the same lines as giving a guy an unsolicited heads-up in hi-lo that the low has an 8 qualifier when I see him playing a hand with a 9 in it.

Even just taking it easy on him felt a little wrong. I don't soft-play people in poker, and especially not in this game, which is friendly but still very competitive. Generally, any mistake a player makes on his own is fair game, and we usually play pot-limit. Misreading the board or forgetting we're playing Omaha hi instead of hi-lo can come with a steep price.

I was in aggressive autopilot on this hand (as the cards indicated), but as I was carrying it out, pressing my advantage to the max felt like too much. When he put in that sixth bet on fifth street, I realized I could probably take him for his whole $260+, and I just didn't want to do it. It's not my job to advise my opponents on their play mid-hand, especially an apparently experienced poker player (based on his prior plays and the host's familiarity with him). I'm comfortable with a lot of the territory that goes with that, but reraising this guy like 40 times to get his whole stack due to him missing the game change ... eek. It would be hard for me to sit there and manually put in those raises, as a guy who loves the game and wants people to play and be happy. Especially mixed games. It's hard enough to get one together in the first place.

On the other end of the spectrum, I had just squeezed the host several orbits prior for multiple bets per round, in a hand where he was playing Stud 8 during a Razz round. It wasn't exactly the same because he had a board that could arguably be a shitty low hand, and he is known to make some loose plays. I suspected that he didn't know the game changed, but I'm not about to remind players what the game is every time they make a bad play that might be the result of that. The hand with the host kinda factored in for me. I wouldn't tell him that the game had changed, and I suspect he wouldn't tell me either, so it would be weird and kinda unfair for either of us to tell another player the same.

But that's me and the host, who have a years-long history of beating each other mercilessly, and ribbing each other about it to boot. With the new guy, I don't know him personally, and he's new to the game, and it was unambiguous that he was playing the wrong game. Milking him for every penny during uncapped betting might have ruined his whole night and encouraged him to never come back. The way it played out, he dropped an F-bomb and some griping right after the hand, but he played out the rest of the night and never gave any indication of being bitter or anything.

It has crossed my mind to offer him a partial refund. Maybe the $24 I got on the last two rounds, or $30 to account for the last couple bets on fifth street as well. I have a very slight inclination to do that. But it's a weird spot because I wouldn't do that for any of the regular players, and I wouldn't expect them to do it for me. And what's the etiquette on issuing refunds anyway? Do I give a guy his money back because he got all his money in with a crap Omaha hand, thinking the lone ace could play for the flush? What level of error warrants a refund? It's messy.

The way it went down wasn't really calculated on my end. I've kinda explained my thought process, but worth mentioning here that it's an online game with a 12-second time clock. I needed to act quickly, and none of the options available to me seemed appropriate, so I defaulted to my usual action at first (bet), but then shied away from pushing it further when it was clear he wanted to get into a raising war. It was an awkward spot for me for sure. I don't really know how I'll handle it if it comes up again. I'm mostly just hoping it doesn't.
 
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upNdown

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Gotta say I'm a little surprised at the responses. I expected some measure of "Tell him it's Razz," but not such an overwhelming number of responses to that effect. That approach crossed my mind, but I dismissed it along the same lines as giving a guy an unsolicited heads-up in hi-lo that the low has an 8 qualifier when I see him playing a hand with a 9 in it.

Even just taking it easy on him felt a little wrong. I don't soft-play people in poker, and especially not in this game, which is friendly but still very competitive. Generally, any mistake a player makes on his own is fair game, and we usually play pot-limit. Misreading the board or forgetting we're playing Omaha hi instead of hi-lo can come with a steep price.

I was in aggressive autopilot on this hand (as the cards indicated), but as I was carrying it out, pressing my advantage to the max felt like too much. When he put in that fifth bet on fifth street, I realized I could probably take him for his whole $260+, and I just didn't want to do it. It's not my job to advise my opponents on their play mid-hand, especially an apparently experienced poker player (based on his prior plays and the host's familiarity with him). I'm comfortable with a lot of the territory that goes with that, but reraising this guy like 40 times to get his whole stack due to him missing the game change ... eek. It would be hard for me to sit there and manually put in those raises, as a guy who loves the game and wants people to play and be happy. Especially mixed games. It's hard enough to get one together in the first place.

On the other end of the spectrum, I had just squeezed the host several orbits prior for multiple bets per round, in a hand where he was playing Stud 8 during a Razz round. It wasn't exactly the same because he had a board that could arguably be a shitty low hand, and he is known to make some loose plays. I suspected that he didn't know the game changed, but I'm not about to remind players what the game is every time they make a bad play that might be the result of that. The hand with the host kinda factored in for me. I wouldn't tell him that the game had changed, and I suspect he wouldn't tell me either, so it would be weird and kinda unfair for either of us to tell another player the same.

But that's me and the host, who have a years-long history of beating each other mercilessly, and ribbing each other about it to boot. With the new guy, I don't know him personally, and he's new to the game, and it was unambiguous that he was playing the wrong game. Milking him for every penny during uncapped betting might have ruined his whole night and encouraged him to never come back. The way it played out, he dropped an F-bomb and some griping right after the hand, but he played out the rest of the night and never gave any indication of being bitter or anything.

It has crossed my mind to offer him a partial refund. Maybe the $24 I got on the last two rounds, or $30 to account for the last couple bets on fifth street as well. I have a very slight inclination to do that. But it's a weird spot because I wouldn't do that for any of the regular players, and I wouldn't expect them to do it for me. And what's the etiquette on issuing refunds anyway? Do I give a guy his money back because he got all his money in with a crap Omaha hand, thinking the lone ace could play for the flush? What level of error warrant a refund? It's messy.

The way it went down wasn't really calculated on my end. I've kinda explained my thought process, but worth mentioning here that it's an online game with a 12-second time clock. I needed to act quickly, and none of the options available to me seemed appropriate, so I defaulted to my usual action at first (bet), but then shied away from pushing it further when it was clear he wanted to get into a raising war. It was an awkward spot for me for sure. I don't really know how I'll handle it if it comes up again. I'm mostly just hoping it doesn't.
I can’t imagine giving any kind of refund, partial or otherwise, after the fact. Perhaps one of the limitations of playing online. If you were live, I could see you working out, right then and there, something that felt fair. But to toss him $30 today just feels weird.
I think you did fine. Treading the line between not telling a guy how to play his hand and not soft playing him - it isn’t easy. But you thought about what was right and you did something in that direction - I think you’re good.
 

WedgeRock

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Agreed, in a friendly home game, when you think he may be playing the wrong game, let him know in chat.

I'm going to revise my answer.

In my "friendly, yet competitive" home game, this would be *my* course of action.

But you make a good point that soft-playing an opponent is also a sketchy situation. If your game exploits mistakes such as not knowing the game, then you may have even been wrong soft-playing him... Maybe you should've taken him for everything.

I'm not judging you for what you did or didn't do. I don't know the dynamics of your game and your players. And some lessons need to be painful to learn.

Interesting discussion, though.
 

Rieguy

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I agree with the overwhelming sentiment of the thread.

However, I would say this is also a "teach a fish man to fish" kind of moment. The newcomer learned his lesson the hard way (which could have been worse) and will now be more perceptive of what game he is actually playing in the future. I would not sweat over it too much at this point.
 

Jimulacrum

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I appreciate that everyone's answers are supportive. I feel like there's a broad gray area of approaches here. None of them are necessarily perfect, but all of them fall under the heading of trying to do right and not abusing the game or its players.

I know that in some circles, taking the guy for every penny would be the standard approach. This was all due to his errors. He missed the game change and a handful of other details that should have clued him in (e.g., the betting starting with me instead of the pair on board each time). But I think that even in a public cardroom against a lineup of strangers, I'd have to be up against a real jerk to want to take everything and send him away angry and unlikely to return.
 

BGinGA

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This if it was my buddy Nick and I'd be trolling him 4ever.
Yeah, there are a couple of folks in my home game who would not have received my "game is razz" comment until showdown or all-in, whichever ocurred first. :) And in a casino setting vs total strangers, I'll make every max +EV play/bet/raise and let the cards (and dealer) speak, every time.

So maybe announcing the game here vs a confused newbie in a home game setting may not be the textbook 'correct' approach. But it feels right to me.
 

Rhodeman77

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I play on 3 different Mavens sites and they all offer mixed games. I have definitely missed the switch more than once! Especially when going from 5 card PLO to BigO.

Thankfully it has never cost me my stack but on occasion I get to showdown and wonder why my pot is getting chopped! :bag:

I changed the settings to turn off dealer chat so the game change announcement is usually on the screen longer and I don’t multi-table while playing mixed games any more. It definitely sucks and give you credit for not trying to clean him out.
 

timinater

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His refund is you didn't take his entire stack. Part of playing mixed games is knowing what game you are playing. I don't really have any sympathy for the villain here. You could have stacked him and been totally within your rights. Not advocating that necessarily, though.

You took a good approach here and it might be a case by case situation taking in account the health of the game.

I can tell you this though, if I was your shoes and @Kain8 was the villain I'd stack him, tell him we're playing razz then we'd all have a great great laugh.
 

Legend5555

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Against friends, i probably say something. Against strangers, I keep raising until he realizes either I'm being an idiot or he's being an idiot about the game we are playing.
 

ssanel54

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Jim, I know most of the new players in this game, and know the player involved in this hand, and for sure he will take a good ribbing for this one. I cant imagine he will carry any bitterness that a stranger did not give him a heads up that he was playing the wrong game, and who knows what he would have done if the situation was reversed.

The one thing that is not being considered though, is that this is a mixed limit game that the host has been trying to put together for many years without any success. Its only two weeks old, and many of the players recruited have very limit knowledge of the structure and the games. Sure, we've all misread a PLO hand, or played a Low when the game was High only, but its not often that stud and razz even make a rotation. I would probably be more lenient the first few weeks until people get comfortable, otherwise they may go right back to their comfort zone, and the game struggles to take off.
 

Jimulacrum

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Against friends, i probably say something. Against strangers, I keep raising until he realizes either I'm being an idiot or he's being an idiot about the game we are playing.

This part about him realizing something was wrong, that's what I was expecting to happen. It's automatic for me, upon seeing someone breach the 4-bet threshold, to take stock of what's happening, make sure I have the correct game, etc. People don't generally do that lightly, and when it happens, you'd better make sure you're right to be pressing the action. I like to think he'd have eventually hesitated, but 6 bets wasn't quite the line.

Jim, I know most of the new players in this game, and know the player involved in this hand, and for sure he will take a good ribbing for this one. I cant imagine he will carry any bitterness that a stranger did not give him a heads up that he was playing the wrong game, and who knows what he would have done if the situation was reversed.

The one thing that is not being considered though, is that this is a mixed limit game that the host has been trying to put together for many years without any success. Its only two weeks old, and many of the players recruited have very limit knowledge of the structure and the games. Sure, we've all misread a PLO hand, or played a Low when the game was High only, but its not often that stud and razz even make a rotation. I would probably be more lenient the first few weeks until people get comfortable, otherwise they may go right back to their comfort zone, and the game struggles to take off.

Yeah, the fact that the game is still quite young is an important part of the picture. Even if it weren't that young, health of the game is a constant concern when you're talking about a mixed game. You can get anyone who plays poker to sit at a vanilla NLHE game, but a Big O8 / Stud 8 / Omaha High / Razz rotation can be a tough sell. And it's fixed limit, to boot.

Glad to hear this is likely to blow over smoothly. And I agree about remaining lenient moving forward, at least for the near future. Approaching this game with a cutthroat attitude in cases like this won't do anyone any favors.
 

shorticus

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Against my friends, I’d try and get all his chips. After taking his money, I’d set those in a separate stack and call them, “Corey’s stupid chips (Corey is my best friend who would do something like this).” For the remainder of the night, all of my raises would be announced, “I raise you x amount of Corey’s stupid chips” until I have run out of those. I’d separate that money from my bankroll and only use that money when Corey plays in the home game, and announce my buy in as a buy-in with “Corey’s stupid money” and I’d probably call him and text him pics with said money on a regular basis until he wanted to fight me. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:

That’s my best friend and our relationship is weird like that lol.
 
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