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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Poker Plus - Not all Fun and Games

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Why do you play poker? Because it is fun or you just like card games? Do you just like to gamble? Or, maybe you are trying to grind out a few bucks to help pay for the liquid gold that goes in your car. Whatever the reason, playing poker is not all fun and games.

The only real pitfalls for the strictly fun and games group is if they get in over their head, or are harassed at the table and get into a chat war. Losing money you can’t afford to lose, playing in limits above your bankroll or ability is a slippery slope. And the slope slides straight down into a debt filled hole that you can’t afford to be stuck in. Being verbally blasted for being an idiot while losing that wad of cash, only makes it worse. Not only are you losing but now you aren’t even having any fun. If this is the case, you may want to change your game plan.

Online poker has gone through a lot of changes, some good and some bad like the UIGEA and we have had to change along with it.

The only good thing (for some) about the UIGEA is the restrictions it placed on the banks. No longer can the “loosey goosey” player in the US who loses too much just flip out the Visa card and buy more chips after too many cocktails. I like a good drink as much as anyone, but let’s be honest, too many toddies and we can all feel 10 feet tall and tilt proof. The temptation was too much for those with little self control; it was way too easy to fan out the credit cards on the desk and play “pick a card - any card” for the next re-buy. For those players, the banking laws did protect them from themselves which they needed. But what about the majority of us who don’t need a big brother watching?

Assuming you didn’t log-on and sign-up to a poker site right after watching the WSOP and decided to jump in a $25/$50 game; you have probably been around poker for awhile. A huge amount of us online players made our jump to online poker after years of playing live in a B&M poker room. We learned the differences, the do’s and don’ts and had to learn to develop bankroll management. If we didn’t we were broke and out of the action until we could afford to re-buy. A very few players took the freeroll route and built their bankroll up from nothing and are still riding the gravy train. This road takes much longer and requires more time and patience than most players are willing to invest.

For the “average Joe player” the UIGEA is nothing more than a big thorn in their poker balloon, making the choices of where they can play more limited. The “Joes” already know how to play and play within their limits because they all learned the hard way; by losing and figuring out their plan.

Players who play for the money are not in it for the fun and games; they are there for the profit. That doesn’t mean they don’t have fun, but the fun usually comes in the form of winning. A common theme among the money players is “the more I win the more fun it is” while losing or getting sucked out on is enough for them to blow a gasket. It is usually at the suck out point that many grinders start insulting those they feel are inferior players. Too many players who are there only for the money have the attitude they should always win because they play better than anyone else. This is a slippery slope too, one that is made more treacherous by over inflated egos. Let your mouth override your brain and you will be running off the very players that give you the money that makes you a winning player. Then see how well you do at a table full of rocks, where no one is playing anything but the nuts.

It is no secret; poker is huge business now with everyone and their mother wanting a piece of the action. It has emerged from the backroom to the boardroom, bringing its own version of celebrity along on its crest. But just what image has poker developed and how is that image perceived by the wanna be poker playing population?

Believe it or not I have very few poker playing friends or relatives. This gives me a great vantage point to see just what non-poker players think of all the new poker hype. And I can tell you, their opinions by and large are mostly negative.

While watching TV with a channel surfing male relative, he came across a major tournament event and stopped to watch it for awhile. Knowing my poker background, he may have done this for my benefit. I couldn’t care less about watching poker on TV, but it was interesting to see his reaction to the game play and the players. I watched him - while he watched the name brand “ego laden mouths” rant and rave about how their opponent was so stupid, they shouldn’t have been in the hand, how can you play that trash…..after their far superior hand was trashed of course.

My relative’s reaction was, “Why would anyone want to play poker if that is what it is like? I would want to play because I picture a poker game to be fun and friendly, those players are jerks.”

I did reply that what he was watching wasn’t a true picture of a poker game, but yes, the jerks are out there in large numbers and many of them were on TV. I did try to explain that any B&M poker room worth their salt will not let players get away with being abusive idiots. Problem is; I haven’t worked in many B&M poker rooms worth a pinch of salt when it comes to enforcing rules fairly.

No matter if it is at the WSOP, EPT, WPT or at Mom & Pop’s poker parlor, some players seem to be above the rules that the rest of us must abide by. It is a blatant double-standard that makes the rest of us shake our head. In Mom & Pop’s place, live ones that regularly let their chips fly and create action are usually given miles of rope and seldom hang themselves. The games depend on the fish pumping up the regulars, so a blind eye and ear is turned towards the abusive drunk giving away his paycheck.
Is this fair to everyone else?

Not in my opinion, yet I have seen players who are more than willing to put up with anything while stacking the chips. And, what about those dealing the game? If they are the target of the abuse, many of them will take it if the tips are good; others don’t think it is worth it no matter how well they are being compensated. Personally I respect the dealer who won’t let money dictate who should follow the rules and who shouldn’t. The times I have seen the abusive live-one reprimanded and even removed from the table, an amazing thing happens; they always come back. The amazing part is; when they return, they are usually on their best behavior and while they still throw chip parties, now they make the game enjoyable and profitable for everyone.

The bad part about letting a select few get away with “mouth murder” is what it teaches the new players. Do we really want tables full of arrogant and nasty mouthed abusive players? Is this a welcoming environment where the rookies feel comfortable learning the game? And, do we want the players of tomorrow thinking this behavior is acceptable and expected when playing poker?

Recently at the WSOP Main Event Phil Hell-mouth went off on his opponent who beat him. It was an episode that would have embarrassed anyone who had an ounce of class, but anyone who has ever seen this “poker ambassador” in action has come to expect his childish outbursts. His moniker is not the “Poker Brat” for nothing. Sadly, there are even those who only watch The Brat in anticipation of what foolish thing he will say or do next. The whole WSOP story is a disgrace to poker, from management imposing a penalty then removing it, down to the Brat’s lame excuse of it being a “performance for the cameras. “ Who says there is no justice in poker? The Brat busted out before making the final table. It would have been far worse if he had been further rewarded for his inexcusable behavior by winning yet another bracelet.

What does the whole scenario say to the poker playing world? That it is ok to be as big of a jerk as you want - as long as you have a good reason and are a big enough name? Too bad the rules which were supposedly made for everyone in reality are: “the rules for everyone except player x, y or z - as determined by management.”

There are hundreds of big “name brand” poker players out there who have class and truly are good ambassadors of poker. These are the players that the up-and-comers should strive to emulate. Too bad the attention is drawn to the bad apples who continue to blight the face of poker in the public eye. Of course most of the pros have egos of a size that would dwarf the Goodyear blimp, but the real professionals know how keep it in check and not let it override their mouth.

For the rest of us, it still can be fun and games when we play poker. That is why playing online is so great- you can mute the mouths and enjoy the game!

Grab a chair…..see you there!

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