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Assholes to Honey

I haven't written as often as usual for two primary reasons: (1) I haven't been playing as much and (2) the results continue to be abysmal. It reminds me of the losing streaks I had in 2007 and 2006, but oddly that's a comforting thought. When I need to, I think back on my total lifetime wins to remind myself that any temporary down tick is merely that: temporary.

I've noticed that the posts regarding table etiquette, particularly in blogger tournaments, have continued to trickle in. I can't blame a lot of the players that have chosen to take a break from these tournaments, since one of the keys to playing well is comfort. If you are uncomfortable with the stakes in a game, for instance, you are likely to have difficulty playing your A game. Similarly, if you are playing in a game of hostile players, it can also be difficult to concentrate of play optimal poker.

Naturally, those considerations only matter if your goal is to make money. If your goal is to socialize and have fun, then playing optimally may not be the most important thing to you. However, playing with a hostile crowd is even worse for a fun-time player than it is for a money-time player, since the fun is literally negated by the assholery on display.

I am not going to judge those who may be assholes at the tables; nor will I judge those who have decided that the assholes have ruined blogger games. But I will touch on a tangential topic that I think is worth discussing.

I love poker. (Wow, I haven't made that statement in a while). Love it. And while it may be a bit of a bitch now and then, I will play it under most any condition. NLHE or Mixed Game is fine with me. Tournament or cash game are both okay. Casino or home game sounds good.

But part of this general easiness is this concept: If you got money, I'll play.

I've said this before and I'll say it again, even an asshole's money is good. Sure, I play poker to socialize, but I'm not above socializing with assholes. In fact, many of my good friends could be considered assholes.

When I first started playing poker, my boy Mikey Aps would win practically every homegame I held. He was also a grade A asshole, from the Hellmuthian school of assholery, and many of the players became frustrated by his behavior (which probably could have been overlooked if he lost more than won). This put me in a weird spot because some players complained that they would not play if Mikey was there (sorry, Mikey). Now, Mikey's shenanigans got under my skin, too, but I am nothing if not inclusive. Fortunately or not, my homegame folded before I had a chance to figure out what to do, but since then I've noticed that asshole-banning is a relatively common practice.

A while ago, I used to play in a Brooklyn mixed game hosted by a player who was banned from the IHO games because of his assholery. I should probably stress (since that player probably reads here every once in a while) that I use the "assholery" term loosely, and it is more about what other people think than what I think. Whatever the case, even though he was banned from the IHO game, I still went to his homegame. Why? Because (a) he had money as did the other players in his game and (b) there was poker. Truth be told, I got along with the guy too, but I got along with him because I don't judge. In fact, my general principle in relationships is simply: If you are cool to me, I'm cool to you. It's that simple. And the host was cool to me. He invited me, was always cordial and ran a good game. He may've been particular about rules, but I can play along. After all, the most important thing was the poker. The socialization comes a close second, but make no doubt about it, its second.

SoxLover at one point was also banner and then unbanned and then rebanned from the IHO games for one reason or another. Admittedly, Sox is an opinionated guy, but that wasn't enough to bother me. Shit, I'm as opinionated (if not moreso) than the next guy, and I can even be a bit of an asshole at times if you don't consider where my comments are coming from (a deep well of sadness that engulfs my soul...or my keen sense of sarcasm and snarkiness). But once again, I was okay playing with Sox because (a) his money was good, and (b) there was poker. And like the aforementioned host, I got along with Sox, too. He was friendly to me, and when he made a comment that annoyed me, I just let it go.

Lest I sound like a complete prick, I should mention that these last two examples aren't ideal examples, since I liked both Sox and the aforementioned host on a personal level. However, on the rare ocassions when I discussed the two with the people who banned them, I simply explained this common denominator approach. They had money and poker, and that was all I needed to know.

When I was still a first-year attorney, I remember calling my mother midday to ask some advice. I was working under a partner who was a real asshole. He was the type of guy who could tilt you as soon as you enter the room. My mom told me something that has stuck with me to this day: "Your career is filled with assholes, Jordan. It attracts them. So, you better get used to it, because there are plenty more out there." She was right. The law attracted assholes like a siren's call. And poker is much the same.

Take a second to think about the characteristics of an average poker player. They are likely competitive, aggressive, independent and combative. Or, in other words, asshole-like, assholish, assholery and assholeness. As a people, we practically live outside of society, playing a largely-illegal game in underground clubs or other venues where the goal is to take money from the weak.

This is all to say that it is to your benefit to get that thick skin if you are playing poker for profit or to gain experience. There will always be an asshole at the table as long as you do not control the guest list. You should welcome these assholes and learn how to take advantage of their assholery. Because after all, they have money and they play poker. What else do you need to know.

This isn't exactly the case with blogger tournaments, which fit into another category of games. If you are playing poker to have fun and you don't find the games fun anymore because of some assholery, then you should take a break. I don't begrudge anyone that option, and I largely prefer it to the alternative, which is playing the game and then consistently bitching and moaning about the assholery (although, I don't begrudge anyone that either; sometimes people need to vent).

While on that subject, I'll leave you with a brief story I probably told here less than a month ago. I was at the Wall Street Game and a new player complained about a couple of rules. Specifically, I had a prop bet going with a few players to see what cards would come out on the flop. If our card came out, the winner had to announce it or else he/she would not get paid. As a result, if a 3 came out, a player would announce, "3!" and get a couple of dollars tossed his/her way.

According to the new guy, it was wholly improper to call out the cards on the board. On one hand, he had a point, since players should have to read their own board. On the other hand, we were in a homegame and the type of announcements did not necessarily give away any information. It would be one thing to announce, "Four clubs on the board!" It's another to announce "3!" As the complainer put it, "What if I had pocket 3s and hit my set?" What a tool! As if someone with pocket 3s would not notice their set? Or, on the flipside, as if the guy playing against the pocket 3s would go, "Oh, I didn't notice that 3...he must've hit a set." His complaining was actually more than complaining. He was downright pouting and would not get off of the subject. I believe his ultimate argument was, "They wouldn't allow that in a casino."

This was a tricky one for me. On one hand, I liked his money, but on the other hand, I had reached my fill and I had enough of his complaining. This was the ultimate in assholery to me. You show up at someone else's home game, you ask for a rule clarification, and then you push for your "casino" rules to be in effect! I'm not against nudging a bass ackward game into something resembling legitimate poker, but at some point, a guest just needs to shut up and play poker.

When I was finally fed up, I offered this suggestion: "You know where the door is. If you don't like it, you can leave." It wasn't my place to say it, but it had to be said.

So, in closing, I can play poker with just about anyone as long as their money is good. But if a game is not enjoyable to you, your best option is to leave, because more often than not, all the complaining in the world won't change the game.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:07 PM,

12 Comments:

At 5:19 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I think the problem lies with those of us who have played blogger tourneys since the days of Pacific Poker and have a certain regards for them.

And those who are newer to the game and not used to the community feel as most of us have done shots together in different states or yelled "PAI GOW" together at the Excal.

The "seriousness" that the newer bloggers bring kinda kills what was fun about meeting up at night on the virtual felt.

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger Karol said...

...And that was exactly the problem with the two people banned from our games. They made the game not fun and while we love poker and don't mind playing with assholes at clubs or Vegas/AC, playing with them in your own (or Dawn's, whatever) home is quite different. Similar, I imagine, to the blogger tourneys Drizz mentions.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger Buddha said...

My experience is that most of the best players are not assholes. Winning players, perhaps partly because they want to keep the fish happy, are less likely to rock the boat and abuse the fauna. There are, of course, a significant minority of exceptions.

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger StB said...

Hey! Don't steal my ideas!!!
Just kidding.

You sum up what I am speaking of. There is no one, not a single blogger, who cannot claim to be pure and innocent. We all have our vices. Whether we choose to be an asshole and ruin it for others is the difference.

One question on the guy complaining about the called cards. Why wouldn't you just call when the hand was over? Like the games at Bobby's room in the Bellagio. I believe they called and collected after the hand was finished. I could be wrong but that is how I read those bets being paid.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Just like dating in West Virginia, everything's relative.

There is a certain "assholishness" to all poker players. And if you play poker, there is a lot of barely tolerable shit you have to put up with, from smelly or drunk people at the tables to outright fistfights in the poker room.

The fact that some of these people have ELEVATED their assholery to the point that people who are well accustomed to be tolerant of it are calling shenanigans should tell you something.

Yes assholes are part of the game. But there's a reasonable amount and an unreasonable amount.

Everyone has to decide for themselves where that line is.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger DP said...

Dugglebogey is an asshole... lol (and his above comment is pretentious and self-righteous; oh BUT HE'S A GENIUS11 ... my mistake) anywayz, my point: Dugglebogey's above comment is funny -- as to be expected from that man -- with all his probable complexes, or what-not based on his writing.

But dugglebogey is full of staunch opinions that are quite poignant. Is that entire sentence like a euphemism?

;)

anyway... to Jordan: this was a pretty interesting post which really kept my attention, and addressed some pretty interesting issues that apply not only to poker but life in general, which you did a good job of relating. (Although with my ADD-like demeanor, I admittedly stopped reading the last fourth of this post! :/ ... )

So props to Jordan for this interesting post, IMHO! But what do I know... hehe...

- D

 
At 11:52 AM, Blogger pokerpeaker said...

There's one really loud, obnoxious guy who occasionally plays at our home game. We have days when he's not invited and days he is. We like him because he's really loose and fun to be around, but he can really grate on us too. So we take him in small doses.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Lucypher said...

When the asshattery is extreme enough to cause the fish to no longer attend if the asshat attends, it harms the game and should be stopped. That is the decision point for our home game.

 
At 4:06 PM, Blogger Patch said...

There's only been one guy ever uninvited from the home games I've hosted and played. He was a very large, very strong guy who we all figured was on steroids. He never threatened anyone with violence, but his mood swings were extreme. His unpredictability scared the crap out of everyone. The rest of the regulars in that game decided we should forget to invite him in the future.

Other than that potential threat of having my neck broken, I'm with Jordan. Money. Poker. I'm good.

 
At 5:07 PM, Blogger RaisingCayne said...

Loved the post Jordan!

I agree with your sentiment that a sufficient passion for the game can outweigh any frustration regarding a villain's "assholery" at the poker felt. As I know myself, I will put up with just about ANY behaviour at a casino table as long as poker is being played for money.

Now, with all that being said, I think home games are a completely separate beast from more formal casino games. I believe a certain level of manners is required for one to take part in a 'social game,' like one's hosted home game. (As I know I wouldn't hesitate from kickin' someone out of my house for not respecting me, my home, other players, or the game's stated rules.) And, I believe these blogger tournaments should be considered more of a "social game" than a "formal game." But it's evident from witnessing many asshat actions in these things that this sentiment is not a consensus among all that take part.

I'm probably not making any sense. I just know that, myself, I treat the blogger games like a friend's home game, and attempt to play with some form of sincerity, (despite my asshole nature!) While I indeed have come to expect dealing with assholes during poker, I do not expect this to be a possibility at any home game... and I think it's fair for us bloggers to not expect to witness assholes within our blogger events either. (Given their social nature.) Your post makes me think that maybe this sentiment is a bit delusional. (As the only real option I could see is if the hosts reserved the right to refuse to permit certain players from taking part, and have the ability to kick out and uninvite certain individuals... but that's not really an option is it.)

Anyway... enjoyed the post. Thought provoking and well stated.

 
At 5:35 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Thanks for all of the comments. I'm glad everyone can talk about the topic without necessarily arguing.

In response to stb's comment about calling out the prop bets after the hand, we had a rule that you had to call the flopped cards before the river was dealt or the hand was over. I don't know why we had that rule, but it made it more fun. Ultimately, we switched to announcing, "HIT" if one of our cards hit. Ironically, if anything, this gave the prop-betters an edge, since we were immediately notified if someone's card hit, whereas players not in the prop bet may not associate "HIT!" with "3" or whatever.

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Joaquin "The Rooster" Ochoa said...

B-Listers. I can't tell you how sad it makes me that people are getting mad at a 10.00 dollar tournament buy-in. I try to win all the crap I play but the truth is...that 10.00 bucks isnt' enough for me to get mad.

 

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