Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Name:
Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No No, After You, You Fucking Idiot

Poker is full of contradictions and paradoxes. That's one of the things I love about it. One of my favourites is the way that some of the rudest people you will ever meet suddenly leap up onto the highest of horses about issues of "etiquette".

Speaking of horses, obviously the recent televised $50K HORSE event is a good example of this. Check out the montage of the "Prince of Poker" staggering his way to a $2 million prize while drunk as a skunk. Now, I don't particularly have an issue with the way Nyugen behaved. It's not as though I ever looked up to him, as some people seemed to do, and nor do I subscribe to this ludicrous picture of Chip Reese sitting on a cloud strumming his harp, breaking off only to shake his head at the way his memory is being disrespected. Life is wasted on the living, as Douglas Adams would say. The only real issue I have with it is how he was never penalised at any point, but there are about 20 reasons why I'd never be drunk off my ass calling everyone a motherfucker at a $50K final table and having to say "That's not fair ! You never gave Scotty a penalty !".

What I'm really interested in here is the way this was all triggered off. 2nd place finisher Michael DeMichele received some criticism from other players for (IMO) tame stuff like turning around and smiling at his friends after winning a pot and taking 45 seconds to raise Greenstein when he had a lock hand. By all accounts, Scotty then took it upon himself to "teach the kid some manners" by, erm, acting about 100 times worse. All rather childish, but the point is that DeMichele's mild "breaches of etiquette" seemed, to some at least, to be more deserving of censure than someone shouting "where's my fucking cocktail" at the hapless waiter, and so on.

On top of that, I came across this a couple of days ago, which illustrates the point better :

Poker After Dark - Hecklers

Let's just set the scene. What we have here is six poker players who have been pre-selected, from a very wide pool, for being the rudest, most self-absorbed and generally most obnoxious members of the species. And might I say that the producers made excellent choices. If you fast forward to about 4:00 (believe me you don't want to watch any more of this than you have to), you will see a huge "feeding time at the zoo" argument break out between just about everybody. And what caused it ? A slowroll ? A personal insult ? Something said about someone's mother ? Nope. These guys are all standing up, shouting over and insulting each other, and generally acting like pre-schoolers because two of them are disagreeing over the correct "etiquette" as to who should show their hand first. I could belabour this point to great length, but I would hope that the ironing is head-asplodingly clear.

The disconnect seems to be all about what "etiquette" actually means. Most people in the real world would think that it means being polite, and nice to people, in the hope that we can all get along with basic respect for each other. People like Hellmuth, on the other hand, use the word with a very specific meaning of "following pre-determined, almost arbitrary, unspoken conventions in certain situations regarding the procedure of betting and concluding a hand". I mean this is a guy who will talk about you like you're a dog, all day long, even when you're sitting right next to him, if you happen to commit some grievous insult such as outdrawing him or raising him so light that he can't accurately estimate your range.

I'd love to think that this oblivious attitude towards irony is an American trait, but of course it isn't. What fun we've all had with the "moody rule" here in UK card rooms, the local equivalent of the lollapalooza IMO. I've asked several times what a "moody" actually is without ever receiving an answer. And then of course there's the infamous "20 seconds to raise" rule at Russell Square. Nor indeed is it confined to poker ; footballers, for example, will dive, cheat and kick each other black and blue on a weekly basis but the only occasion (that I can think of) when someone felt so bad about something that happened that they agreed to replay a won game was when a player didn't throw the ball back to the opposition after an injury as "etiquette" decreed.

So what is my conclusion ? Cliff notes if you will. Well, for one, "pro" poker players (and by extension people) are delusional, self-absorbed idiots, and it's fun to LOL @ them. Secondly, I guess, if you're concerned about "etiquette", try being polite to people. You will find it helps things run a lot more smoothly. If you're concerned about being a rules nit, and worse than that, an "unspoken rules" nit, then fine, but please don't pass yourself off as Debrett's Guide to Etiquette while you're doing it.

Addendum : I forgot the best thing about the $50K HORSE which is Scotty's "apology". Go to post 54 to read it with the benefit of paragraphs. As classic non-apologies go, it's right up there. It just checks all the boxes :

[x] long list of excuses
[x] say there was no excuse
[x] blame everyone else
[x] refer to self in third person
[x] ludicrous contradictions ("I wasn't drunk" / "They couldn't even beat me when I was drunk")
[ ] actual apology to the people who deserve one

He practically says "I'm sorry for being more awesome than everyone else". As ever, the rambling, self-important "apology" is even more embarrassing than the original problem the person is "apologising" for. When are people going to learn that they'd be much better off saying either a) nothing, b) "I'm sorry, I acted like a twat" or c) "Yes, I did all of those things and more. So what ?"

4 Comments:

Anonymous Nev said...

Hi Andy

As ever, your stuff makes good reading. I'm just breaking my lurker's silence to acknowledge that I enjoy your blogs a great deal.

Even the title of this post has put a smile on my face each team that I've read it. There are too many players that I can easily picture delivering the line.

Thank you

Nev

10:11 AM  
Blogger Shane Schleger said...

Good blog (though you cheapen the writing needlessly by using internet-isms like "lol" and "head-asplode," if you'll forgive the observation).

What's the 20 second raise rule?

8:36 AM  
Blogger Andy_Ward said...

Cheers Shane,

The 20-second rule is legendary in London poker, and also illustrates the point to a degree. It all happened a few years ago in a cardroom run by a manager who, although he was very popular (and rightly so), was known for his eccentric rulings.

A cash game pot developed between two players who hated each other. One of them umm-d and ah-d for about 3 minutes on the river before finally raising, and of course turning over the nuts when called.

All hell broke loose. In response, instead of telling people to just calm down and/or deal with it, the manager instigated a rule whereby if you wanted to raise at any point during the hand, you had to do so within 20 seconds. If you thought for more than 20 seconds, your option to raise was gone. In cash games, tournaments, everything.

This ludicrous rule which, as you can guess, was much loved by angle-shooters, stayed on the books for a good few months and even threatened to spread to other casinos at one point. Good times :-)

Andy.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "Moody" rule was an all purpose rule used largely by angle shooters to confuse and rob less experienced players.

In one of my earlier trips to a card room having hit a gutshot straight on the river I shook my head in disbelief before checking to my opponent who moved all-in with a flopped 2nd nut straight I called only for my opponent to cry "Moody"

The floor was summoned after 10 minutes ill tempered debate I was awarded the pot. Apparently because my show of weakness was non verbal it was not a moody. I wished I had hoodwinked my opponent by some subtle ploy but alas it was just a random reaction to the board.

The player concerned was at the time a moderately sucessful player who about 8 years ago would have been a biggish fish in the small pond that was UK poker. I do'nt see him around much these days.

Ross

12:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home