This is one of those blogs that, when I’m finished, I’ll hover the mouse over the “Publish” button for probably longer than it took me to write the damned thing. Hopefully, a surge of confidence will flow through my body and to my pointer finger, pressing the button. I’ll squeeze my eyes shut and hope for the best. More than likely though, it’s going to end up going stale in a folder on my desktop called, “My Shit.” Either way, I’m writing it, so here goes.
I’m a person in poker media, and sometimes I just want to scream, “Hey! Who the FUCK do you think you are?”
(Excuse my language. Wait no, actually don’t. If you are expecting an eloquent, graceful blog like that of Matt Glantz and Olivier Busquet ((side side note: They are FUCKING AWESOME)), then stop reading. I like to swear and make immature jokes).
As you could have probably guessed, no, I’ve never screamed that before. I usually just sulk away, bite my tongue, and remind myself that having a job (my super fantastic, dream job) is better than having an outburst. However, I totally asked my boss if I could write this, and he said yes. (Fist pump) Despite having been given permission to mention specific names, I decided not to. I’m not here to call people out. I just want to express my opinion… And clearly, I’m not the only one who has noticed the negativity in poker lately:
See! David Baker says fuck too, and he’s super cool (so is his honey), so I’m good!
For those of you guys who follow me on twitter, you might remember me writing that I got into a verbal altercation at the table, and that I’d write about it later. It spurred the idea of this blog. Just to be perfectly clear, I fucking LOVE poker and the community of people in it. I’ve met so many special people and have made tons genuine friendships. However, there are always a few mushy blueberries in a box of juicy ripe ones (haha that was my attempt at making a non-cliché comparison).
Anyway, here’s what happened:
I was playing in the $1,000 NLH event on Sunday. My starting table had only one person I recognized (he’s a young Czech guy who I apparently met at a party in Prague. He said he remembered me because I told Melanie Weisner that I would go topless sunbathing on the beach with her if it was just us. I do not remember this. Tequila may be at fault) Anyway! The whole table was having fun, chatting away. I met a guy in the military, a farmer from Michigan, and a friendly, older, gentleman with a southern drawl.
The last player I mentioned, let’s just call him Texas, had done some things that pros would find fishy – his bet sizing, limp calling raises with J4 offsuit out of position, etc. But, he was having fun and didn’t mind he was losing chips. Texas got into a pot with a player with a Sissi Poker Pro patch on. Let’s just call him Italy. On the river, Texas made a large bet of 900 on a low, semi-coordinated, paired board. Italy tanked and asked him if he would show his hand if he folded (classic question to get a read on someone, obviously). Texas didn’t give up much information, joked a bit, then said, “I’ll show ya either way.” Italy called with ace-queen high, and Texas showed him ace-four, for bottom pair.
Italy threw up his hands, made a sound of disgust and laughed. “Were you betting for value? Did you even know what you were doing?” he asked. Texas laughed and didn’t say much. The banter between the two continued in a tense tone, until a few hands later, Texas raised Italy’s big blind. Someone joked about him picking on Italy. “Do you think I’m pickin’ on you?” Texas asked him.
Italy put down his iPad and fired back. “Hey, are you having fun? You are here for fun, right? This isn’t fun for me. This is work. You leave me be and you have fun.”
Texas sheepishly replied, “Well I’m not just here for fun either.”
Italy scoffed and said, “Well then, I feel sorry for your family.”
WHOAAAAAA hey now. Again the words, “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” flashed in my mind, but instead I said, “Hey, that’s crossing the line. Don’t talk about his family. You don’t know him. You’re supposed to be the pro, so act like one.” I think I said more, but when I see red, it’s hard for me to remember things clearly. I was pissed. Italy didn’t say anything after that, and I felt AWESOME.
A couple of days later, I was at the Bellagio, and a player who I trust, told me that he witnessed this story:
A well-known pro who plays in Bobby’s Room often was berating a dealer at a table in front of the cage. The manner in which his chips, or lack thereof, were stacked in front of him would indicate he was losing in the game. He told the dealer to spread the deck as they normally do after action is complete. Well, apparently he wasn’t happy with how far the deck was spread. He laid into her. She sat there, taking it, as her bottom lip began to quiver. The floor came over. The pro continued his rant, and the floor did nothing to stand up for the dealer. [edit: I just heard another story of him forcefully asking a dealer to spread the deck today. WTF?]
The poor treatment of dealers by particular high stakes players and them getting away with it isn’t new. Again, who the FUCK do you think you are? Do you think you are better than them? You’re not. Yeah, I said it!
Now, these are extreme cases of ignorance and entitlement. But, as I mentioned before, there does seem to be an ever-increasing amount of negativity, feuds, and bashing going on in public forums. In my opinion, a lot of it is childish and completely unproductive.
Here’s what I’m NOT saying: I’m not saying poker players owe us media, or anyone for that matter, anything. IMHO, you don’t need to dress up for TV or do interviews if you don’t want to. It’s part of the beauty and freedom of playing poker for a living.
I’m also NOT saying that players shouldn’t say how they feel. I think it’s important for prominent figures to speak up for everyone. There have been incredible improvements made because of the right people piping up. All I’m saying is, if you were a person in charge of something, who would you rather help? The person screaming, “You suck. OMG, blah blah. Change this, or I’m gonna totally like flame you on twitter, bitch bitch, moan, bitch.” Or, “Hey, let’s talk about changing this because of these reasons and many people feel the same.” (ie. How Vanessa Selbst talked to Jack Effel about the ladies bathroom. Calm, cool, with good reason, and lots of support. TADA! Fixed!)
Poker is the hardest way to make an easy living. I know that. I’ve been working in the industry for 6 years. I ‘ve seen people rise and fall, come and go, and become different people because of what poker can do to you. This may seem like a blog bitching about people bitching, but what I’m trying to do is to make people see the ridiculousness of it all. I want people to regain perspective and live a happier life. It reminds me a quote by the hilarious, Louis CK:
Everything is amazing, and no one is happy.
As a player too, I’m not immune to being irrationally soothed by a knee-deep wade in a shallow pool of self-pity. Just the other day, I was stuck, miserable and sitting at the table thinking about how bad I run. How bad I’d run in the last five sessions. I ignored a call from a friend, dropped my phone into the cup holder, and longingly stared at the massive pile of chips that used to be mine, carelessly stacked in front of the “fish.” Yeah, who’s the fish in this scenario? ME, FOR SURE. As if we are on the same frequency, my husband sent me a text that couldn’t have been more on point or come at a better time.
——I just walked into the condo and saw a picture of us lying on the beach in Bahamas during the PCA. “Remember why your life is so good,” is such an amazing quote (This was something my poker coach, Andrew “Balugawhale” Seidman, always used to say). Think of the things that poker has given to both of us. Think of the things it teaches you about yourself. It shows your true inner self when you face adversity. You seem easily broken and insecure deep down. That shows in poker and in life. Use poker to help you fix these areas of your life also. I found out so many things about myself over the years and am still learning. Most of those were negative things, but I guarantee that you have noticed I’ve made improvements. Poker shined a light on these areas, and I continue to grow. I need you to do the same. Phil Galfond said it best, “You probably took up poker to make your life better and to have freedom. Don’t sit at a table when you’re miserable inside then. Enjoy your life and freedom and only play when you are back to your normal self.” I know this is hard, but it’s truth. I love you babe, I know you are strong willed (more so than I) and will learn these things as I am learning them now.—–
After reading his text, I literally felt a weight lift from my chest. I felt light and happy again. Everyone has the opportunity to work on his or her faults, improve their character, hone their skills, and enjoy life.
As for the specific things he said, about me, he’s right. I am insecure often in poker and in life. I can feel incredibly confident at times, but my view of self worth lives an dies by variance. I talked about it with Lauren Kling in one of my latest podcasts. I constantly wear a chip on my shoulder and have a nagging want to PROVE SOMETHING to everyone. But, I have the power and will to work on these things.
So with this all said ,I want you to ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?” And from there, look at what you project to the world. Do you improve the lives of those around you? Or do you just bring them down because you’re constantly complaining, telling bad beats, or just being mean?
Or, if you just don’t give a fuck like the honey badger, that’s cool. That’s your prerogative. Just don’t expect to feel fulfilled by anything in your life or the people around you. Chances are the people you surround yourself with are negative too.
LIFE IS NOT A BITCH. IT’S SHORT. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME, AND THEN YOU DIE. SO DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME BEING AN ASSHOLE AND BE FUCKING HAPPY.