What is Angle Shooting?

Published: 04/10/2010

Angle shooting in poker refers to the practice of using various underhanded or unfair methods in order to take advantage of an inexperienced opponent. Such behaviour may appear to be unethical, but as long as it does not actually break any rules, angle shooting cannot strictly be considered cheating. A simple example would be peeking at a player’s hole cards when he/she fails to cover them up properly, but there are many more advanced forms which are more malicious and marginally legal at best.

Among the many forms of angle shooting is the “incomplete call,” which takes advantage of a rule used in many poker rooms that states an insufficient bet must be treated as no bet. An angle shooter will purposefully “call” a bet or raise by pushing forward fewer chips than are required, without saying a word, hoping the opponent will turn over his/her cards without checking to see if the pot is right.

If the angle shooter has a winning hand, he/she will quickly rake in the pot. But if the hand is a loser, the angle shooter can claim the call was incomplete, that she/he did not really intend to call, and then retrieve whatever amount was put forward as un-wagered.

Along these same lines, the use of ambiguous hand gestures can be “reinterpreted” by the angle shooter. What looked like a “check” can be claimed as a “bet” after others check, or a “call” can be reinterpreted as a “raise” if it seems beneficial to the angle shooter’s purposes. Showing one’s cards, for example, might be thought of as folding, but an angle shooter may judge a player’s reaction and then continue to play on.

In all of the above examples, the angle shooter has been careful not to say anything about the action that is taken. Quite often such silence is a tip-off that a player is attempting to gain an unfair advantage. Extra caution should be used when facing any opponent that fails to clearly indicate exactly what he/she is doing in play.

Another type of angle shooting involves an opposite strategy, using words to fake a hand or outwit a less experienced player. An example would be, when playing Texas Hold’em,” the angle shooter declares joyfully, out of turn, that the River card has just made his/her hand—“That’s the flush!” or “Inside straight!” or something similar. The hope is that others will believe it and toss in their hands. To guard against this, make sure that speaking or playing out of turn is against the rules in the game and draw immediate attention to any infraction.

In an attempt to escape from a bad situation, an angle shooter might deliberately spill a drink on the cards, feign a sudden medical emergency, or otherwise physically disrupt the game. Such angle shooting is not entirely limited to live games, either. Online players may attempt to get out of bad situation by disconnecting their computers.

Other actions involve how chips are used at the table. Following a big win, an angle shooter might remove chips from the table and pocket them, hoping to make his/her position appear weaker than it is. This is called “ratholing,” and it is against the rules in most poker rooms, though not all.

Along the same lines, an angle shooter who is winning may cash in at a ring game, then reenter the table with a smaller stack—an action known as “going south.” Again, removing chips from the table may prohibit reentry at some tables, but not all. Online, this can become a frequent problem, as winners “short stack” their positions by jumping in and out of play. On the other hand, poker rooms with long waiting lists are virtually immune to such tactics, but it is every player’s personal responsibility to know what rules pertain.

It is also important to remember that almost all poker players angle shoot to some degree. It is part of the game to use the rules to one’s own benefit. Even professionals have been known to angle shoot each other in tournament play, tabling a losing hand with bravado in hopes that the opponent will muck a winner or calling the clock on someone to get him/her to fold or make a bad choice. Those who know the rules well are in the best position to use them to their full advantage, and it still isn’t cheating, just angle shooting.

Published on: 04/10/2010

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