The Importance Of Being Angled

Tales from the Tiltboys:
Starring: Bruce Hayek, a.k.a. Tiltboy SpaceCadet

Friends and family tend to look on in dismay as the Tiltboys spend entire poker games and social events (Thanksgiving, weddings, christenings) trying to ‘angle’ one another. Sometimes it’s for a trivial bet; sometimes it’s for some serious tilt.

The thing is, our long-suffering loved ones are overlooking the beauty of the angle. When you successfully angle somebody, you don’t just nab their dollar, or 1,000 dollars, you get to gloat, brag and strut around in front of the other Tiltboys. You become the hero of the hour, and you go up three notches in everybody (except the anglee’s) estimation.

What’s not to like?

Here is my favorite angle, as well as a few others I’ve admired and secretly wished I had worked myself.

One night, when Phil Hellmuth was invited to our home game, I decided I needed to demonstrate the Tiltboy phenomenon to him directly. So I started fishing around for an angle. When Josh called me and told me that he had inside-information (literally, via ultrasound) about the gender of his pending baby, I had my ammunition.

Now, making a bet and pretending not to know something you do know isn’t angling, it’s cheating. We leave that to Paul. The rest of us adhere to a strict code of ethics: an angle has to fool somebody, not lie to them. So it wouldn’t be right for me to bet on Josh’s kid’s gender and pretend that I didn’t already know the outcome.

Instead, I offered to the table at large this proposition:

“Listen, Josh already knows whether he’s going to have a boy or girl. I’ll let anybody here ask him what he’s going to have, then they have to decide whether he’s lying or telling the truth,
and I’ll take other side. For 100 bucks.”

Rafe and Paul jumped all over this. “Josh, what are you having?”

Josh told the truth and said he was having a boy. After heated debate amongst themselves, Rafe and Paul reasoned that he was lying, since his first two kids were girls, and there’s a tendency for people to repeat a sex that they’ve had before (not just with girlfriends, but in the reproductive sense).

So they insisted that they would bet “girl”, and that I had to take “boy” (oh darn!) for 100 bucks.

At this point, I confessed that I couldn’t bet, since I already knew the sex. Rafe and Paul asked Josh if that were true, and Josh replied that it was. They immediately became suspicious that they were being angled and that Josh was in on it, which led them to deduce that Josh was just lying to help me get out of the bet. They insisted that I had to take the bet and, of course, I
“begged” them to let me out, since I said it wouldn’t be right. But they wouldn’t back down. So I took, won $100 bucks and left Phil Hellmuth with his jaw unhinged at what a fucked up group of gamblers we were. Cha-ching!

I’ve been the victim, too. Once, in Vegas, I was playing in a game with Perry and was stuck a bunch. I bet Perry I couldn’t get even in an hour, then had a miraculous comeback and gloatingly insisted he pay me. Perry pointed out that I must I pay him, because I wasn’t even, I was ahead.

Perry may love the angle better than anybody. He once spent months concocting an elaborate scheme to angle a casino out of bets. He tried to recruit a bunch of us to join him in his master plan. It would be unwise to divulge the details here, but the long and short of it was, after spending about 20 minutes working his plan, he successfully cheated the casino out of… a nickel. Was he upset that his Grand Scheme resulted in enough to make a phone call in the 1980’s – no chance – he was in heaven.

Not all angles are black and white. Borderline angles are something to consider before you embark on a career in angling or on a night out with the Tiltboys. Here’s a borderline angle (okay, really cheating) that increased the Tiltboy membership by one. Paul’s introduction to the Tiltboys was to whisper the outcome of a replay game that was on the TV to Phil, who then used the information to win a bet with Rafe. He split his winnings with Paul, right in front of Rafe to rub it in. Paul became a Tiltboy there and then.

Of course, angles can backfire. In fact, that usually happens when trying to angle Diceboy, the world’s luckiest man. Paul once removed all the fours, fives, and sixes from a deck, which is a huge advantage to a player against the house when playing blackjack.

When Diceboy came back from the bathroom, Paul offered to play blackjack with him letting Dice deal. After Dice won the first six hands, Paul had to give up on his angle. He then switched tactics, and demanded his money back after he confessed to cheating.

You see, in all these cases, pocketing the money was the least important part about pulling off the angle. The real currency involved was Tilt, and everybody knows that’s far more valuable than money.

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December 2005