I wrote an article on the ten greatest poker players in the history of the WSOP and can’t say I was surprised by the response – long before publishing my editor said, “Really?!”
“Yes, Maria, really. There is really no argument against Phil Hellmuth Jr. being the greatest WSOP player in history. And it’s not even close – he holds the all-time records for most overall cashes (64,) most final tables (40) and most bracelets (11.)”
“But he’s soooooooooo annoying.”
She’s as right as I am – he is without question the best WSOP player ever and also one of the most annoying in WSOP history.
I was reminded of the ole’ Poker Brat while watching the June 15th Party Poker 300K Weekly Hold’em tournament.
First of all, High11th is a good poker player – very good. He’s placed high in several major recent online tournaments: January 4th Party Poker 300K (1st), November 4th Party Poker 300K (7th), February 5th Party Poker 300K (5th) and more to our point, June 15th Party Poker 300K (19th). So the guy knows what he is doing out there.
But I’d like to talk about his behavior at the table. And not just his behavior, but a few other things I saw take place on Sunday that bothered me as well.
1. Don’t be Bratty: Hand 7145221675 saw a suckout. After calling a raise and all-in re-raise with JJ, oylke beat both AK and QQ when a J came on the flop. Was it a suspect call? Yeah probably. But there’s no call for this:
“For playing JJ shorthanded, you have a lot to learn. The guy had a third of the average. You are really stupid.”
Those are the words of High11th directed at oylke. Why call a guy stupid? What does that accomplish? Maybe I would cut High11th some slack if he had been the one with QQ, but he wasn’t even in the hand! Nor did High11th blurt that out in an isolated emotional moment – he took the time to type it in the chat box of an online tournament. And for someone who is obviously as good as High11th is to call someone out is even worse – they should have played enough poker to know that anything can and will happen. And the real point of the matter is this: if you do see someone making idiotic decisions, wouldn’t you want them to continue making those idiotic decisions so that your superior decisions usher you into victory? Regardless, there is more to poker than math and that’s what makes it a beautiful game rather than a beautiful science – the best cards going in don’t always win. Deal with that fact or don’t play poker.
2. Don’t Show your Cards: There is perhaps one exception to this rule which we will get into in a moment, but suffice to say that poker is a game of information and you never want to give any away unless you absolutely have to. Hand 7145393595 saw no_IQ win a pot with a pre-flop all-in from the Big Blind. It was a fine play as the blinds were big and he took about 30K. But he gave away something even more important – information. As the chips went towards his avatar, no_IQ voluntarily exposed his AK as if to say to the table, “Hey, I’m not screwing around guys, see?” What does that do? Maybe I’m missing out on something but what in God’s good name does showing the table your AK accomplish? Set up a later bluff? I don’t think it does – I think it just lets everyone know what you had. Then came the even more baffling play of sharam_nuts in hand 7145429185 when he showed his KQ after making a similar play. Although that could lead to our exception to the rule and hand 7145407570. Hand 7145407570 saw Brunz199 re-raise and take a large pot pre-flop. As the chips went over to him he exposed his A5 bluff. While I still don’t agree with this play (never give any unnecessary information to a good player – they will use it against you) I can at least understand it. He was showing his bluff, catcalling at the table (as perhaps sharam_nuts was doing with the KQ) with the hopes of putting someone on tilt. I happen to believe that you are more likely to damage yourself by giving away information than you are likely to benefit yourself by putting someone on tilt, but I could be wrong on that one.
3.Don’t be xPOTRIPPERx: Whoever you are, you are a disrespectful and sophomoric punk. How dare you name yourself xPOTRIPPERx – do you have any idea who that is and what that means? For people who aren’t familiar, POTRIPPER was the first major super-user caught (a super-user is a player who can see all of the cards at the table through a software hack.) Millions were taken on Absolute Poker by this player, who turned out to be Scott Tom, former owner and creator of Absolute Poker. So you are either A) Scott Tom, in which case you should be in jail and I really can’t understand why you are not or B) a fan of Scott Tom’s, in which case you should be called out in a public forum for being a self-ordained parody of the millionaire twerp who wasn’t even smart enough to win the moneyon his own. Just for your information, xPOTRIPPERx, the original POTRIPPER may end up being the reason that the UIGEA remains intact in the US as people like Scott Tom continually undermine the credibility of the entire Online Gaming industry. So, way to go buddy!
4. Big Hand: OK, enough of the kvetching – hand 7145373252 was probably the most important single hand of the tournament. This hand proved to be the turning point for eventual winner ganjasx. In the interest of fairness, I am not going to point to ganjasx’s screen name as the pinnacle of class or creativity – but it’s at least not xPOTRIPPERx. Anyway, in this hand ganjasx flopped quad tens and ended up making a number of beautiful value bets to end up with an 800K pot. This left him with twice the stack of the second big stack left in the tournament and he rode that monster stack to a first place finish.
Maybe I’m being too hard: I mean, High11th can say whatever he wants – plenty of other people were probably thinking the same thing while he just went and said it. And what if your name is xPOTRIPPERx, just don’t follow in your namesake’s footsteps. And why not show the bluff? Why not try to put someone on tilt any way that you can?
It still bothers me though.