Many of you bloggers remember the first Grublog Classic poker tourney. The Poker Grub took it upon himself to find a site willing to give us a private tourney. He worked hard and got screwed.
Choice Poker basically stole all of our money. Once it was put in, no one was able to cash out. We were robbed.
It seems as though Choice Poker wants us all to make another bad choice. I received an email today, an email I'm sure many of you also received.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I won't post the whole thing, but I'll give you some details with my reaction:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your patience and understanding while we searched for a solution to get Choice Poker back into action.
No patience, no understanding. I wrote you off. You stole money.
Although we apologize for the length of time it has taken to organize a final compensation package, please understand that the extra time was necessary to ensure that your interests and your current balance are fully protected.
Compensation package? This ought to be good. And isn't it a relief to know are balances are fully protected? Bastards.
As part of the rescue package we have agreed that as soon as Choice Poker is re-opened on the ACR network, Choice Poker players with a current credit balance will have their credit balance restored in full and available for play as soon as we re-open.
Great, now I'll finally be able to get my money back. It's about damn time.
During this transition period Choice Poker players will be required to play "x" number of hands (on 1-2 games or higher) equivalent to their current credit balance before cashing out their credit balance. For example, if a Choice Poker player's current credit balance is $100, then that player will be required to play 100 hands on 1-2 games or higher before qualifying to cash-out of 100% of their credit balance.
Huh? What? You mean my hard earned money that you stole from me isn't even my money yet?!?!? My money that I deposited in your crooked poker site doesn't belong to me??? I've got to play at $1/$2 or higher to earn my money back?!?!? Is this some kind of sick joke?!?!?
In addition, Choice Poker wishes to compensate their valued players for being patient and understanding. Accordingly, all Choice Poker players that have had account balances since April 1st. will receive a "We're Sorry" promo bucks bonus equivalent to 25% of their credit balance on April 1st. 2004.
Wow... you're sooooo generous. Throwing us a few meaningless bucks while we toil at your lame poker site just to earn back the money we should rightfully have in our bank account. Bastards.
And finally, to "Cap it" all off, all players that remain loyal to Choice and continue playing until December 31st. 2004, will further receive a 50% "rake rebate" for the previous 3 month period of play. This is in addition to any bonuses, comps or promotional money that you may receive or subscribe to during this period.
Oooooh... you really "capped it off" for me. Now I have to keep playing at the worst poker site in the world to get another few bucks from you. Of course, what's to say you won't just steal my money again in three months. Why should you be trusted?
In closing we would like to thank Americas Cardroom and BetCRIS management for this generous offer and we hope that all of you will remain loyal to Choice Poker.
Have a Lucky Day!
Thanks, but no thanks. Luckily, I only had about $50 in there when they decided to steal it. I don't plan on wasting my time there. For some of you with larger bankrolls, it might be worth it.
If these guys really had their act together and really wanted to earn the trust of players back, they'd double all of our bankrolls and allow us to immediately withdraw what is rightfully ours. The rest could be a bonus that players could work off if they wished to.
Instead, they will continue to hold our money hostage. I plan on e-mailing this to the folks at Choice Poker hoping they'll come to their senses. I'll also inform them that hundreds of poker players every day will read this and inform them that I'll encourage every other major poker blogger to link to this. I'll let you know what I hear.<-- Hide More
There's nothing like slinging chips with your friends. It'd been a long time since I played an old-fashioned home game. In fact, it had been weeks since I'd played any poker at all. That didn't stop me from buying into Otis' NLHE ring game.
Okay, back to the game... as you can tell by this post's title, I didn't walk away a winner, but I still had a great time!More in this Poker Blog! -->
We started with 8 players each buying in for the maximum of $30. We were playing .25/.50 NLHE with rebuys any time you busted out. We hit a maximum of 9 players at one point, but we generally had 7 or 8 at the table.
The Players (in no particular order):
Otis, Bad Blood, The Doctor (Otis' brother), G-Rob, The Kid, Team ScottSmith, Shep, The Lady, Tony B., and me.
Things got ugly awfully early as miracle rivers came faster than cops to the Krispy Kreme when the Hot, Now sign flashes. I remember when G-Rob spiked a King with just 6 outs available to bust Otis. And at that point, Otis was ready to go on tilt because just a few hands earlier, Bad Blood used a well timed-raise to force Otis to lay down the Hilton Sisters. Bad Blood dropped The Hammer and it was destined to be a long night.
At that point, I figured I would be better off playing from behind. I caught Cowboys pretty early and worked that into an okay pot, nothing special. My biggest hand of the night came when I got wired 7's. The flop did absolutely nothing for me, but a relatively small bet in front of me let me see the turn and I caught my set. The river filled my boat, and I took a lot of money from The Lady.
It was all down hill from there. I read The Doctor pretty well when he went all-in with a gutshot straight draw to my top pair after the flop. It was a pure bluff and I caught him. Unfortunately, the turn made that inside straight draw a double-gutter, and the river filled the straight. That one burned me.
I finally busted when my A9 off caught top pair on a flop of 9-x-x, two clubs. I pushed all-in and got called by QJ of clubs. Don't be fooled by the illusion of a bad beat. At this point, I was behind in the hand. Any Q, J or club gave Team ScottSmith the win, and I was reaching for my wallet before the turn even fell. It was a club, of course.
I wish I had more exciting hands to relate, but I didn't play many exciting hands. I lost $70 for the night, but I'm not sure I was really playing to win money. I know I got into hands I wouldn't normally play, but I was more interested in having a good time.
And the next time I'm in town, I'm itching to play again!<-- Hide More
When I was a kid and pressing my luck, my mom liked to say I was "cruisin' for a brusin'."
For the past week or so, I had it coming.
So, I shouldn't have been surprised.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Saturday night, in an effort to share in the fun of the No-Blos up in Philly, a few So-Blos got together for a little home game in the Garage of Otis (GOO). The game was .25/.50 NL Hold'em with a maximum buy-in of $30.
I've been really busy since then and continues to be, but the highlights bear a little web space.
Here are the top five moments of the night.
1) After taunting BadBlood in recent weeks for getting him to lay down a hand to my hammer, I got what was coming to me. The bastard raised my Hilton Sisters pre-flop with the hammer, then got me to lay the girls down when a K came on the flop. If he had slammed the hammer any harder on the table, I would've run out of the room crying like Mike Matusow.
2) G-Rob made me run from the garage crying like Mike Matusow. He pushed all-in on the turn, when I held top pair (99) with an open ended straight draw. The board was 4678. G-Rob turned up Big Slick and caught the ace of spades on the river. That was a six-outer for those of you who are counting. He turned my stack into a bigger stack and walked away the second biggest winner of the night.
3) Team Scott Smith played the role of bad uncle. His nephew, Logan "The Kid", had doubled his buy-in over the course of the night. When a Q fell on the river, it gave The Kid TPTK, but gave TSS the nut straight. The kid lost his entire stack on that hand. Bad uncle.
4) Little Willie (aka, my brother) was running bad early in the night. His wife had come to visit with Mrs. Otis and wandered through the garage. She silently noted his small stack and walked on. Little Willie re-bought. Then re-bought again. Later, Mrs. Little Willie walked back through and noticed the stack was bigger. She commented, "It looks like you're doing better." The table remained silent, knowing his stack was bigger, but his pocket was much lighter. The moment only lasted for a couple of seconds, when Shep drawled from across the table, "Well, he's bought back in twice." Silence. Then the table exploded with laughter that rivaled any other the rest of the night. Fortunately, Little Willie made a massive comeback and finished in the black for the night.
5) Tatwood, in a moment of sublime tilt, lost her entire stack. Twice. She left the room for a few minutes than returned with the second best one-liner of the night, "Can I write somebody a check?"
Thanks to all who played, especially CJ and Little Willie for coming so far for a little garage game.<-- Hide More
It would take precious little effort to stumble--in an inebriated poker player's shuffle--out of the Mt. Otis garage game, through a few mountain pathways, and onto the decades-old Appalachian Trail. It would take little more than a gauzy, willful mind and a good pair of walking shoes. Sure, it aint close, but it ain't far. And a good drunk's tunnel vision loves things at that distance.More in this Poker Blog! -->
With that in mind, I've been reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. I figure if I can't literally connect with a trail so close, the least I can do is connect with it literarily. Or something.
Bryson tells us there are two kinds of trail hikers on the AT, the NoBo and the SoBo. The NoBo ilk (North Bound) hike from Georgia to Maine. The Sobo kind do the opposite.
While the analogy is a bit weak, I find many of the poker bloggers out there can be divided into three geographic areas. There are the Northern Bloggers (No-Blos), the Southern Bloggers (So-Blos), and the Western Bloggers (The We-Blos). You can decide who falls into what region.
I simply know that I'm a So-Blo and my geographic ties are killing me this weekend. Many of the No-Blos are meeting in Philly for Al Can't Hang's Bash at the Boat. They'll being hitting AC's Borgata, then playing a homegame, then drinking until they can't see.
I wan't to do that.
Instead, we non-No-Blos will have to live vicariously through the writings of Pauly, Al, Boy Genuis and the like.
To ease the pain, I'm going to host a homegame Saturday night. BadBlood will be there, as will Up For Poker founder, CJ (on a So-Blo trek from LA to VA to SC).
So, if you find yourself on a southbound train, hit us up. We're thinking of working Dial-A-Shot into the night so we can party via cell phone with the No-Blos.<-- Hide More
WARNING: ESPN Tournament of Champions spoilers below. Do not expand the entry if you haven't yet seen the show and want to be surprised.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Just a few thoughts on tonight's show.
1) ESPN's Tournament of Champions broadcast was among the most entertaining televised poker shows I've seen yet. The three hour format with a limited number of players allowed for a great variety of hands and some fairly well-produced sidebars.
2) For the first time ever, I cheered out loud for a poker broadcast.
3) Raymer confuses me a little bit. I don't want to criticize his play at the end, but I would like it explained to me.
4) For the first time ever, my wife couldn't pry herself away from the television.
5) I have more respect, admiration, and funky puppy love for Annie Duke than I could possibly express.
6) I, perhaps, have a little more respect for Hellmuth as a poker player than I did before. The laydown he made with top pair against Duke was fairly inspired. However, I have even less respect for him as a person than I did before, and I didn't think that was possible.
That's all for now.<-- Hide More
For want of a poker game, for want of a casino, for want of a computer not protected by workplace firewalls with download protection, I sit at the office, stuck with nothing to do. My profession occasionally requires that I sit and wait. Tonight, as now-Tropical Storm Ivan pushes its way across the southeast, I'm stuck in a place between sit and wait.
I find myself with no real poker playing content (unless you really want to hear my buddy GRob's bad beat tale of woe--kings full of sevens beat by quad sevens).
And since I'm lacking in a real poker story, I thought this might be a good time to catch up on some miscellany. I call it...DIDJA KNOW?More in this Poker Blog! -->
Didja know...I played at a table with BadBlood last night and pushed him off a hand. In my hand? You guessed it. The hammer.
Didja know...about a year ago, Up For Poker founder CJ and I were sweating a guy playing an Ultimate Bet SNG. We cheered in the chatbar as he took down hand after hand. He never responded. We thought he was being a little standoffish, what with being one of our best friends and all. See, we believed it to be our friend, Todd, who had recently taken over duties as our fantasy football commissioner. Why did we believe that? Because his screen name was TODDCOMMISH. It made sense. When he finally won, he escaped into the ether without a word. I asked him the next day why he never responded and he informed us that it wasn't him. Odd, I thought. Probably even odder for the guy we were sweating. Then in recent months comes the poker blogger named ToddCommish. Coincidence? I think not.
Didja know... CJ is driving halfway across the country next week and I'm thinking about putting together an old-school home game in his honor?
That should do it for now.
You know anything?<-- Hide More
Talk to world-class poker players, and I'm sure most of them would tell you that they are the best in the world. Confidence is a pretty big part of being a great player, so I can't blame them for holding that opinion. Most of them, however, would be wrong.
Measuring the game's greatest isn't easy. Should "Fossilman" Greg Raymer be considered the world's best until he gets knocked out in next year's WSOP? I don't think so. After all, the poker world hardly considered Chris Moneymaker the world's best during his 12-month reign.More in this Poker Blog! -->
If you go by career WSOP winnings, it's Greg Raymer again, but besides his $5 million check from the Main Event, he's won just $5345. And third place on the career money list? David Williams, who has cashed just once in the WSOP, finishing second to Raymer. Obviously that can't be a barometer.
Phil Helmuth and Johnny Chan each have 9 WSOP bracelets and Chan sports the most recent back-to-back titles in the Main Event. But neither of these world-class players have made much noise in recent years.
Of course, with the proliferation of poker, we now have to consider the influence of the World Poker Tour and other major tournaments. Gus Hansen has certainly proven to be the most feared player on the WPT, but is he the best player in the world?
Perhaps it's a bias of mine, but I still come back to the WSOP, and more specifically, to the big $10,000 NLHE tourney. It's the place where everyone comes to play. In 2004, 2576 players signed up for their chance at the bracelet. In 2003, just 839 people entered, and that was considered a huge field. In 2002, there were 631.
So what is this all leading to? "Action" Dan Harrington, the world's best poker player.
I'll let that sink in.
I know I'm not the only one who believes this. In 2004, Harrington topped 2572 players to finish 4th. In 2003, he beat 836 players to finish 3rd. In two years in the Main Event, Harrington has watched 3408 players get up and walk away as he kept playing. Can any feat in poker match that?
Was it really harder for Johnny Chan to win back to back in 1987 and 1988? He won a total of $1.325 million for those wins (anyone know how many players he bested?). Harrington won $1.5 for his 4th place finish this year. I don't mean to disparage Chan's accomplishment, because no one has really come close to matching it. When you win, everyone is gunning for you.
By the way, it's not like Harrington lacks the ability to close. He won the Main Event in 1995, the same year he won the $2500 NLHE tourney. He's been at the top before, and now he's poker's biggest threat to get to the final table every year.
In today's game, no one has accomplished as much as "Action" Dan on poker's biggest stage, and that makes hi mteh world's best.
"No face eating tonight."
My chip stack had been hovering around even since we'd started the game. I was just about to get involved in a hand when The Mark's host looked across the table and said it:
"No face eating tonight."
At first I didn't get it. Face-eating? I peered at my hole cards, looking for paint, wondering if the last time I'd been there I had gotten drunk and eaten a face card or two. Just as I was about to ask him to repeat himself, I figured it out.
I'd written about The Mark before. And I'd written about the host's wife before.
I didn't peel my cards off the table again, preferring instead to eat her face with my eyes. Her cheeks pulled in as she drew in on the cigar. She pulled her cards off the felt one more time. I couldn't read her as well as I wanted. Remember, her beauty put me on tilt the moment she'd climbed out of the H2-Hummer. When she lit the cigar and bathed the table in a sexual wash of smoke and casual good humor, I decided there was no way I could play the game of poker ever again..
I said the only thing I could in response.
"Uh, I don't know what you're talking about. Surely."
Then I mucked my hand.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Friday night I headed back to The Mark, thinking it would be another rowdy night of ruckus. Instead, it was rather calm, just a few guys and The Host's wife.
I could turn this into a long post about how I again fell victim to the lady mentioned the in above paragraphs, but I fear my substandard prose would turn out a lot like it did before.
(Suffice it to say, she slowplayed a pair of queens against me in a NL Hold'em tourney, shortly after making two terrific calls against other players, and busted me out).
Instead, this is just a short post to look back on when I start telling myself that poker isn't fun anymore
In recent weeks, I've found myself analyzing every play I make, down to when I fold my small blind in an unraised pot. I haven't been having fun. Though I have an interest in running my poker play like small business, I'm not so interested that I want to allow the fun to drain out of the game. I don't want to hate myself when I lose or feel like I've failed when I start running exceptionally bad (read: now).
When I headed out to The Mark two nights ago, I was at first obsessed with how I would beat the Friday night game. It is often full of loose, card-maniac players who are more content to go broke quickly than fold. I had not been faring well there. My normally tight-agressive style falls apart in that environment and I was expecting another night of poker-based frustration.
When I got there, however, I realized that most of the broke-or-bust players had stayed home. The game was left with some of the tougher, more experienced players. I stopped concentrating on how to alter my game to beat the loose players and focused more on...just playing.
It felt good. It felt like poker is supopsed to. Winning, losing, all-in catching of a miracle two-outer in a cash game of NL Omaha Hi-Lo. It was poker and it felt great again.
In fact, when I counted my roll at the end of the night, I was actually down about $19 and I didn't care.
See, as much as I love winning big and studying the game, I don't want that kind of success at the expense of the game's beauty.
After all, that's why we play...the beauty of the game.
I figure that's why I was so enamored with getting beat to hell by The Host's wife.
Incidentally, after we all tacitly admitted knowing what the "face-eating" comment was all about, the young lady to my right leaned over and said of my first write-up, "I e-mailed it to my dad."
I hope he enjoyed it.<-- Hide More
The bad guys had a man on third and he looked surly. He looked jumpy. The scoredboard had a giant zero in the "outs" column and the baserunner on the hot corner looked ready to exploit someone.
When the ball exploded off the bat in a parabola of sure doom, the baserunner saw what I didn't. He knew the ball wouldn't make it over the fence. The bad guy slipped back onto the bag and waited. This is where he would exploit someone. He'd exploit the centerfielder's weak arm.
From our spot behind home, we couldn't hear the ball hit the leather glove in centerfield, but we did hear the slight huff of the baserunner's breath as he broke from his spot on third base.
I watched as the centerfielder summoned some sort of masculinity from his jock strap and put the ball on a frozen-rope bee-line for home plate.
As the ball crossed over the second baseman's head, I screamed, "He's got'em!"
I stood, nearly spilling my beer, and waited for the inevitability.
The bad guy slid into the catchers glove, the same glove that held the ball that milliseconds before had been more than 300 feet away.
"Hwah!" I joined the small crowd in cheering the first exciting thing that had happened in four innings. Then I looked down at my sleeping kid. He didn't stir from his kid-coma.
"That's alright, kid," I thought. "I'll tell ya about it someday."More in this Poker Blog! -->
A few days ago, I took my kid to his first ball game. It was minor league ball. It was a team that is leaving town to go to, of all places, Mississippi. But it was a ballgame.
What's more, it was a moment. And I like moments. I live for them, for, often, they teach me more than full scale experiences.
As such, I'm learning.
I'm learning slowly that life as a father is a practice in accepting chopped pots. Sometimes you get the whole thing, sometimes you lose it all, and sometimes you chop and should be happy about it.
But, it's hard to remember that sometimes. When you're 30 years old and have spent three decadeson a self-important, egocentric, me-me-me kick, the transition to being the only way a kid will stay alive is a tough proposition. Deep down, there's a part of you that remembers the old days, those days when you could stand up, walk out of the house, and go wherever you want; the days that the only bad thing about getting drunk was a hangover and disapproving look from the wife; the days when as long as you gave the wife a kiss once a day, you were doing your job.
And now, every priority is different.
But, then, you fathers know that, don't you?
"He's got the hammer."
The words popped up in the chat bar, an ethereal nod to the poker world I know. It was a friendly screen name in a pond of anonymous sharks. I'd slayed these sharks many times before, but in recent days I'd felt like chum.
A defense mechanism I keep in in a pocket change purse had been humming a mantra, "It's variance, Otis. It's variance." But I knew it wasn't true. Variance doesn't turn good players into chum.
It left me with two options:
1) Something had happened to my game.
2) I've been very lucky in the past year.
It was about that time the room, for a few seconds blessedly silent, erupted into a scream.
Just as I had bought into the SNG, the new addition to Mt. Otis had started to cry. I thought he'd be alseep for the hour and fifteen minutes it would take me to play the ten-person tourney. As I have been many times in the past three weeks, I was wrong.
When I set out to write this post, I thought I was ready to quit the game. Fatherhood and mid-level poker play just don't mix.
However, I'm not sure that's the answer.
And, frankly, though I usually am fairly sure of myself, I'm at a loss for whether I can be a good dad and and poker player at the same time.
And as much as I want to write about this subject, I just can't get past the idea that even considering a corolation between fatherhood and poker amounts to me being a poor father. That is, a good father just would stop playing for the next 20 years.
And, frankly, I just don't want to be introspective about my qualifications as a father. That may cut a little deep.
Frankly, I'm not doing much of anything very well. My multitasking skills have fallen apart. It's resulted in no small amount of paranoia. For instance, take this snippet from a recent entry in my other blog
Buzzwords are the bastard sons of the catch phrase.
Perhaps if it weren't for the invention of the computer, we'd have never heard the word "multitasking." That is, after all, what computers do. They multitask.
But, sometime in the last ten years, some marketing genius decided it might be fun to assign "multitasking" to human processes. Screw that guy.Methinks there was a larger Dr. Phil-ish conspiracy afoot. That is, if we can convince people they should be able to act like computers, then we can sell them more books teaching them how to act like computers. Then, when they fail at that task (one of several the multitasking propoganda machine prescribes), we can sell them books on how to overcome the depression of failing to multitask. Then when they fail at overcoming their depression we can sell them prescription drugs that make them forget about how they couldn't multitask. Then once they get addicted to those drugs we can sell them books on overcoming addiction. Once they overcome addiction, they'll realize they should be multitasking and buy a book on how to do it more effectively.
The fact that I'm suffering at work, suffering at play, and suffering at poker at the same time lead me to believe that Mt. Willis is in a transition phase. During that phase, I should likely protect myself and my bankroll and play less frequently and only at times when I'm sure I won't be interupted.
I need a plan. And since I rarely stick to plans if I'm the only one that knows about them, I'm going to lay out a few guidelines for poker play for the next thirty days.
1) No tournaments unless I am guaranteed the ability to play the full tourney without distraction (that is, the house is empty except for me, the dog, and cold drink).
2) Ring games will be allowed, but only during times when Mrs. Otis has banished me from the room for some Otis Time and won't need my help (we've been sharing kid duty and occasionally banish each other when it looks like it's necessary).
3) Stop believing that I have to play every day to stay fresh.
4) Use Otis Time to find some real humans who want to play cards. I think I may venture back toward The Mark soon. I need interaction that involves more than chatbars.
So, that's the 30-day plan. We'll re-evaluate on October 8th.
A thought for the day: If rocket scientisits can plan for months and months to collect space atoms in a funky space fridge, employ Hollywood stuntmen in helicopters to snag it from its space fall, then watch the fridge crash into the desert at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars that we'll never get back, should I really be too upset for myself for misplaying the Hilton Sisters a few weeks ago?<-- Hide More
I'm sure all of you caught the debut of the latest "poker on TV" series over this past weekend, right? You know, the Ultimate Poker Challenge! You mean you missed it? Well, sure, the Cleveland market saw it on Friday at 1am while the Waco market had the poker-friendly Saturday 2am time slot.
I did manage to see the debut at 1am this morning when I should have been in bed. Looking back, I wish I had been in bed. Okay, maybe I'm being a little too rough here. It's actually not a bad idea for a poker tourney, but the production seems a little amatuer.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Here's the deal: The UPC consists of 23 separate tournaments with a buy-in of $1000+60 [Ed. Note: One zero missing in original, thanks to the Quiet Lion for noticing] to be played from August 21st to October 28th. Each tournament gives players an opportunity to accumulate points. The 23 winners and the top 100 points finishers qualify for the two semi-final tourneys. There is no way to buy-in to those tourneys. The finalists then play for the big prize which may be about $600,000.
It's interesting to watch how this format plays out. It should give us an indication of which players have staying power. Those who commit to playing a lot of these will accumlate more points. Those that win know they'll already qualify.
The biggest problem with week #1 is that I didn't recognize a single player. A 21-year old kid named Nicholas Bouyea won the tourney. They called him "Nick the Kid," but I doubt he's played enough to really earn a nickname. The "Kid" played well, however, making the right lay down and right call every time.
The standings page, at least, gives us hope of more high-profile players as the season continues. Eric Seidel, Mel Judah, Cyndy Violette, Thor Hansen and, Chip and Karina Jett are just some of the familiar names.
It might be best to watch this on mute, though, because the "play-by-play" man is former "Another World" actor and current poker player Chad Brown. You may recognize him from a 2004 WSOP final table (I think it was Stud). Chad was terrible. And his "analyst" week #1 was Chris "Jesus" Ferguson. Ferguson seemed clearly out of his element, especially after hearing Howard Lederer during Fox Sports Net's live tourney.
If you are addicted to televised poker, like I am, this one will give you a minor fix, but leave you wanting something more and better. Just check out the television schedule for the weird time when it's playing near you!<-- Hide More
No one who has ever played No-Limit Hold'em at a level that could threaten their poker playing career will deny it takes conjones--big, rock-solid, kind you'd find at the base of Mt. Rushmore cojones--to play the game. To play at a level where you push your paycheck across the felt takes having the fortitude to keep the cojones from pulling up and away from the cold, bitch-slapping world that is No-Limit poker. It takes keeping them from seeking solitude in the gradual trek from their own boxer-shorts home, though your insides, and into your throat.
So, when Crying Mike Matusow looked across the felt into the hologrammed eyes of Greg Raymer and declared he, Matusow, had "Big cojones," it seemed a little more than redundant. It seemed a little more than friendly coffee-housing.
It seemed, in short, to be a giant middle finger in the face of capital "K" Karma.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Perhaps, it was selective editing on the part of ESPN's World Series of Poker producers. Perhaps, Matusow is an affable fellow with whom I'd like to share a beer or eight. From my sideline seat at the table, I've decided I can't judge a man based on one clip from television. What's more, judge not lest ye open yourself up to a giant beatdown from Karma central.
Still, as I've discussed ad nasuem in past Up For Poker posts, I'm loathe to defend people who use trash talk as the sharpest arrow in their quiver. I despise myself when I let something slip.
For instance, two nights ago I was on a bit of a run at a $200PL table on Empire. A loose player took about half my stack early on in my sit when I slowed-played top two pair and let him catch a set on the river with his 37offsuit. I re-bought to the maximum and lay in wait. I vowed privately not to leave until I took back all of my chips and then all of his. I didn't indicate this in the chat bar. I just waited. Sure enough, two hours later he played his pair of queens too slow on the flop and let me catch my straight on the turn. I doubled up.
After I took the hand, he steamed quietly for an orbit, then offered a "nh" to me. I accepted and we commiserated about our two slow-plays and how they had killed us. It was gut-wrenching, bankroll-threatening poker. But it was good.
The hand began a bit of a rush in which I sextupled up. I felt cockiness seeping into my psyche, but did all I could to remain humble. Then I caught aces in the small blind. I played the hand well, drawing the BB into a nice-sized pot. I made my set on the flop, and put in a smallish bet, hoping he'd read it as a post oak bluff. He bought it and pushed in with his 77. The board paired on the river giving me the boat and all of 77's chips.
Before I knew what I was doing, I typed, "Perhaps a bit of overkill on my part, eh?"
Sure, I didn't accuse the guy of having "small cojones" or anything, but it was an unnecessary jab at a guy who had just lost his entire buy-in.
Another player at the table suggested I shouldn't get too cocky or my luck would turn. It was then I realized that I should've just kept quiet. I wanted to apologize to the guy, but he'd already left the table.
Good players, like Josh Arieh, know this is a moral leak that all poker players have to control. In a recent Card Player article, Arieh lamented that he he's been trying to control this part of his personality for a while and during one hand of the WSOP, he let it get the best of him. After making quite a move and winning, he slapped his cards on the table and chided his opponent, "Whatta ya think this is? Tiddly winks?"
He hated that he said it, and sure enough, ESPN has played the clip at least twice in its coverage.
Many writers and bloggers have talked about the different personalities of poker players. I tend to view modern players like a high school classroom:
The Athlete--This is the player who plays the game with hard-knock aggression and believes attitude and unrelating powerplay will ultimately succeed. This player tends to make him/herself stand out in a room and tends to garner the most attention of fans and television cameras. They win big, they lose big and it's always a show.
The Math-Geek-- This is the player who is painfully boring for television producers and believes that--in the end--the averages and probabilities will prevail. Often tight-playing and soft-spoken, these players win quietly and lose quietly. They tend to be winners over time, but rarely make monumental splashes in the game of celebrity-era poker.
The Artist-- This player holds no small amount of disdain for the flashiness of the athlete and the attention he craves, but is also terminally bored with the Math-Geek. This player tends to play the probabilities but loves how subtle the real game can be. This player makes moves based on the feel of the flow, the literary nuance of the game. While this kind of player rarely grabs the attenton of the athlete or the probabilty wins of the Math-Geek, he makes poker an artform and writes poetry when he pushes in his chips.
Matusow is The Athlete through and through. He points, he pokes, he jukes, he slams. What's more, he almost prides himself on what people have termed the "Mike Matusow Blow Up." (Note: I have a little defense mechanism I call the Otis Choke, so I guess I'm not one to talk).
His lack of discipline made for a good storyline on ESPN. Under the soft television lights, he lamented his lack of discipline after becoming a millionaire. He blew it all gambling, partying, buying strippers, etc. But as he made it to the top level of the 2004 WSOP final event, he declared he was "back." Presumably, that meant he had regained his discipline and was a contender again.
Which brings us to the feature hand against Raymer, in which Matusow called an all-in bet with second pair, little kicker, and a flush draw on the board. One could argue he made a good read, because he was ahead on the flop. However, one could also question what he was doing in the hand in the first place and whether hubris (and moreover, a lack of discipline) was the primary factor in making a call that eventually sent him down the road to his destruction.
One could read this screed as a the exact kind of behavior I preach against, namely, kicking a man when he is down. However, in this case, I think Matusow begs for this kind of dialogue. He wants it. He wants to be known as the guy who walks a fine line between recklessness and genius.
On his final hand of the tournament, Matusow went all-in with big slick. He was covered by a player who called with Mrs. Slick (AQ). Matusow stood, beseeching the table, "One time! Let me get lucky one time!"
It almost seemed fitting that the queen fell on the river and sent Matusow crying (seemingly, literally) to the rail. Capital "K" Karma doesn't hold much affection for people who flout moral sensibilities then ask for help from the poker gods.
Earlier in the tournament, Matusow had spent an inordinate amount of time berating future champion Greg Raymer. "Don't mess with me, buddy. I'll bust you. I have big cojones. You have small cojones."
Matusow then offered an after-thought apology, a lot like saying "You're mother's a whore....no offense or anything." Raymer, at the time, refused to shake his hand.
Later, Matusow apologized again, and Raymer conceded a handshake. Classy eventually equalled champion.
If I should ever be so fortunate as to find myself across the felt from Matusow or anyone who aspires to be like him, I hope they offer me the same cojones talk, then offer to shake my hand.
I'll shake it and say, "I'm Otis. Who are you again?"<-- Hide More