Sniffs and the Dawg

I was sitting pretty in a hold ‘em tournament hoping to coast to the final table. I’d gotten to second in chips with 12 players to go by playing tight, solid poker. I didn’t make any stupid bluffs or hero calls and only played decent cards when in good position. The only player with more chips than me was a wild guy we called “Dawg.” He literally barked, growled and foamed at the mouth. And he sort of smelled like a wet dog. I was glad he was on the far side of the table.

I stayed away from Dawg whenever we played together and he knew it. He was always crazy aggressive and he bluffed me out of pots knowing I wanted nothing to do with him. But I used that to my advantage other times. Anytime I showed strength, he believed me, so I was able to get him to fold sometimes with well-timed bluffs.

I was in the little blind when Dawg threw in a typical raise of two and a half times the big blind. I looked down at pocket 3s and called. The big blind sniffed a huge sniffle before tossing in a call. I was actually surprised he was in his seat when the hand was dealt. He ran to the bathroom at every chance, returning to the table sniffing like he was allergic to felt, often with white powder still dangling from his nose hairs and mustache. The rest of us tried to hold in our smirks, but when Dawg nicknamed him Sniffs, his secret was pretty much out.

With three of us seeing the flop, it came down three, four, seven, rainbow. I liked hitting a set of threes but knew the five-six could be out there. Or even a higher set. I figured he with the higher set would play the hand fast to make any drawing hands pay to play. And he with the made straight would slow play. So I checked. Sniffs also checked and Dawg barked out a bet of half the pot. I knew it could just be a stab or he could have an overpair since he did raise before the flop. But he also could have a bigger set and I wanted to find out for sure so I raised. Dawg would call me if he had an overpair and raise me with a higher set, so I’d know what he had, he could bark at me all he wanted.

But then Sniffs went in the tank, sniffing and looking back at his cards. I rolled my eyes. It was sniff-sniff-sniffle to my left and ruff-ruff-growl-growl to my right. I thought Sniffs would fold almost any hand in that spot. The only hands he could play were three of a kind or a made straight. I figured he’d go all in with a set but would slow play the nuts. He sniffed and looked back at his cards again as if he had a tough decision. When he reluctantly called, I knew he was holding five-six and he hoped Dawg would pump more into the pot. His thinking was correct but his acting was bad. Too bad Dawg was too busy growling to notice and went all-in. I folded without hesitation knowing that my set of threes was the third best hand. Sure enough, Sniffs turned over five-six and Dawg growled as he turned over his set of fours.

The turn was a blank but the river was another seven, giving Dawg a full house to win the pot. Suddenly he went from a deep growl to an all-out wolf’s howl. He clawed in all of Sniff’s chips and continued howling at Sniffs headed back to the bathroom to powder his nose.