I have been thinking about starting up a Poker blog for quite some time. For those of you that don’t know me I’ve been an off-on poster on most of the Poker forums for quite some time (RGP since 1996!) and a mostly Net-based poker player over the last couple of years. I was a winning live poker player since I started playing in 1996, mostly playing pot limit games of all flavours and permutations, although I have since added limit poker to my play book. I now play several hours a day, across a whole range of games from limit holdem to pot limit omaha hilo...but just to make it clear I am not a full time player. Maybe just a gifted amateur :-)
To start myself off slowly, the first few entries here are going to be my favourites from my posting career in the past. This one is a doozy, although it does need some explanation.
Two years back there was a reasonably famous satellite incident on PokerStars…lets call it the “Miros Deal”. Several seats were paid out to the main event of the WSOP, I believe it was two. Also there was a reasonable chunk of money paid out for the next place. 4th of course got nothing. In the final reckoning, Miros (his screen name) had a monstrous stack, and Donald, another prominent Stars player was the short stack. As the antes were so high for everyone except Miros, the other players quite reasonably wanted to secure some money for 4th place. Miros refused, unless he got additional monies over his entry into the WSOP. To make this clear, he actually wanted more than was being officially paid to him (a seat) to be contributed from the remaining funds. My recollection was that he asked for something like $2000 to agree to the deal. When this was refused, he then used his power of veto to stop any deal happening (even though, in a very real sense, he couldn’t lose out from it) and Donald duly went out on the bubble. This whole affair sparked a host of pro and con posters on a variety of forums, including the subject of this post from The Hendon Mob forum, who was not only pro Miros making a deal, but had actually advised him over the phone whilst doing so. His view was that it's dog-eat-dog out there on the tables, and anything short of cheating goes. My view was different:
The idea that your personality is unchanging and immutable is something that you believe when you are young, but you discover simply isn't true as you get older. How you act and how you think over a period of time will ultimately effect what kind of person you are. Gambling as a whole can have negative effects on the psyche - I think poker is even more potentially destructive as it is one of the few gambling activities where it is a zero sum conflict against people, as opposed to the "house", and that the vast bulk of people are lifetime losers at the game. All of this is compounded by gargantuan egos...even in the losers!
The reason I have always taken a very ethical view about poker is I realised that it is very easy to tumble down the slippery slope - competitive behaviour can denigrate into angle shooting and even worse. And this is much worse online where the pressures of physical society around you somewhat pressure you to conform. I advocate this attitude not to appear to be nice, but as a form of mental self-defence :-)
(Notice that I haven’t included that a friendly, dinner table atmosphere is almost certainly more profitable than the austere environment you describe.)
The problem with the Miros case is that ultimately he gained nothing by his actions. Refusing a deal to "gain value" is one thing, refusing a deal where no extra value can be gained seems to my mind to be simply pointless.
I know you haven’t played live for long, Richard, so maybe some examples may help. In my time I have been threatened and had cards thrown in my face, as well as been towered over and shouted out - and I’m not exactly small I have seen fights both in and out of the casino, some of them extremely brutal. I have seen friendships destroyed and "friends" literally steal from friends. This doesn’t even cover angle shooting, attempted cheating, collusion and defaulted loans.
On the Internet I remember a very prominent Internet poster saying that in a tournament, his opponent showed a str8 flush vs. his nuts flush, and as the dealer and his opponent didn’t notice, he gleefully scooped the pot. Another prominent poster on 2+2, when questioned as to how to combat deliberate disconnectors, advocated doing it yourself.
This isn’t the kind of person I want to "grow up" to be. It’s your choice as to whether it is for you.”