Thursday, December 30, 2004

Putting My Foot In It....

I managed to go nearly the whole of 2004 without offending, annoying or upsetting anyone (apart from those I intended to offend, annoy or upset of course!)

Then last night "Gazza" posted this on the Mob forum:

Tsunami Relief Tourney on Stars
Posted by Gazza on 29/12/2004, 10:02 pm

A private tournament has been arranged on PokerStars with half of the prize pool to be donated to the International Red Cross to aid those effected by the Tsunami.

The tournament is to be held at 11PM GMT this Sunday (2nd Jan). The password is zoohelp

For more details please see here.

I was immdiately repulsed.

I felt it was totally inappropriate to run a poker tournament to raise money for this disaster.

Poker can easily be seen as a metaphor with what's wrong with the Western world. Greed, decadence and laziness. Tens of thousands of people are dying and we run a poker tournament. It just didn't feel right.

I had to stick my oar in:

Posted by The Camel on 29/12/2004, 10:08 pm

Tens of thousands of people die and some bright spark decides to organise a poker tournament to raise money for victims.

Is it just me who thinks this is tasteless in the extreme?

Just make a donation if that's what you want to do. But don't play a poker tournament in memorial of those who died. It is unbelieveably tacky IMO.

I also notice pokerstars are taking $1 per player. Classy.

The way I saw it, if you want to give money to the disaster that's all very laudable, but do you really need to be prompted to give something by playing a poker tournament?

Gazza and I went backwards and forwards a couple of times and then I went to bed.

When I turned the computer on this morning I had softened my stance appreciably and realised it is better to give something, however small, by playing this tournament than nothing.

I wasn't prepared for the litany of abuse I had suffered on the forum:

Vlad reckoned "I suck"
Byron Kincaid called me "a prat"
Anthony claimed I was "point scoring"

Overnight Pokerstars had agreed to not rake the event (good news), Lee Jones donated $500 of his own money to the fund (Not a surprise, he is without doubt, a classy guy) but they had also added extra prizes of hats and jackets to final tablists.

Aggressive Flair summed it all up rather cynically, but correctly:

Re: Extra prizes and Donations added by PokerStars and Lee Jones
Posted by Aggressive Flair on 30/12/2004, 2:51 pm

Will the luxury leather wool jacket be embossed with a tastefull logo depicting a large wave?
What about a nice trophy aswell.I love collecting trophies.You can keep the hats.

It is perhaps the fact the winner will make maybe $500 from winning the event which I find most distasteful and to top it off it will have a nice, cosy jacket to remember his achievement by. If there was no tsunami, he would never have made the money. Surely it would be more tasteful for all the players to just give the $11 to oxfam or the Red Cross or whoever?

Do I wish I had never made my original post on hm? Definitely.
Do I think the event is tasteless in the extreme? Yes.
Is playing this tournament better than giving nothing? Of course.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Start of a Very Worrying Trend?

Just back from Vegas (ok, ok it was over a week ago, but with Christmas preparations etc the blog hasn't been top priority...) and while out there I witnessed something I hadn't seen for a few years and I hope it isn't the harbinger of the future.

It used to be the ritual if you sat down with a very minor poker celebrity in a small cash game at Vegas, the celeb would reach under their chair, pull out a very battered bag and proffer the newcommer a copy of usually a well thumbed book about poker and encourage you to hand over some of your hard earned to buy a copy.

For a while everyone was at it.

A mate of mine came up with the ultimate put down once. He was sitting in a $6-$12 game at the Mirage reading a copy of Oklahoma Johnny Hale's autobiography when he wasn't involved in a hand.

The self styled "First Lady of Poker" Susie Isaacs (She's been called several other, less flattering names too) sat in Ian's game. Her eyes lit up when she saw Ian's head buried in a poker book. "I see you like poker books", she said "have a look at mine, it's just been published." And passed him a copy. He spent about 0.01 seconds flicking through it and passed it back.

"Very interesting" he said.

"Perhaps you would like to buy a copy? They are only $15." She begged.

"No thanks." Ian replied.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm only interested in reading famous players thoughts. And I've never heard of you"

She stomped off without playing a hand. Very funny. But 5 or 6 yeas ago everyone was at it. McEvoy, Cloutier, Buntjer, Ciaffone, Baldwin and Brunson to name but afew. The books were of very variable quality, but you could be sure to pick up a copy at your local cardroom.

The fad died out. But in Vegas this time the old bag full of books trick was in operation again.

This time it was Ron Rose doing the hawking. Rose is perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the WPT cult of fame when a player doesn't deserve it. He is a very moderate poker player (and a whinger in the extreme) who happened to get lucky in a WPT event when the field were tiny and found himself a poker celebrity.

His book "Poker Aces" further promotes poker players as neo celebs. He profiles the history of about 100 famous players. I doubt very much if he details the child assault case of Amarillo Slim, the cheating allegations against Doyle Brunson, Men the Master and others, the disgraceful behaviour at the table of John Bonetti or the fact David Benyamine in barred from entering and Amir Vahedi is barred from leaving the USA. The fact is, I wouldn't trust about 15 of the "Poker Aces" with a the keys to my house because I would be worried it would ransacked.

I haven't read the book. But, it doesn't take a genius to work out it is almost certainly sycophantic claptrap and should be avoided at all costs.

The Magic of Marcel Luske

Anyone who been around the poker scene for more than 5 minutes will know the somewhat shady rumours about Marcel's past. I have no idea if they are true or not and before anyone asks, I have no intention of reproducing them here.

There was also the episode where he "bought" the trophy in a heads up a deal with Jan Boubli at the Vic a couple of years ago in order to gain the extra ranking points in his quest to be European Player of the Year.

I played with Marcel for the first time in the States at the Bellagio a couple of weeks ago. Marcel is a bona fide star in the USA. His impressive performances at the WSOP tv table on ESPN (the show is way more popular than the WPT) have made him a huge name. He sang at the table, gave almost clairvoyant assessments of other players hole cards, dressed like a Hollywood superstar and mentored young David Willaims even while Marcel was still playing the tournament.

The railbirds crowded round and watched his every move. Even other players seemed in awe of him.

His reaction to the bally hoo impressive beyond belief. He had a kind word and a wink for everyone. He shook the hands of seemingly hunderds of railbirds. He signed more autographs than David Beckham could ever hope to get through. He had his photo taken with countless fans. He even made the heart of a middle aged female fan go fluttering by giving her a quick peck on the lips. He didn't disappoint his legion of fans by bursting into song a couple of times.

If he ever produces a Dvd like Hellmuth and Lederer I guarantee it will be a best seller.

Marcel is not a great poker player. I would far rather be on his table than that of Gary Jones, Rob Hollink or Shar Koumi or lots of other European players the Yanks have never heard of.

But Marcel is a star. He does something I have never seen any other poker player do consistantly.

He puts smiles on peoples faces.

And for that he must be cherished.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Vegas Diary (condensed version)

Free upgragdes to First Class on journey to Vegas: 1
Lifts cadged in Devilfishes stretch limo to Hotel: 1
Bets on American Football mtches which manage to lose after winning by 10 with about a minute to go: 1
Winning Craps sessions: 0
Losing Craps sessions: 0 (Impressive huh?)
Long explanations by Harry D why he didn't Christen himself "The Wise Owl": 3 (and counting..)
Tournaments played at Bellagio: 1
Tournaments at Bellagio where I've spunked my chips away despite having 5 times chip average at one stage: 1
Excellent NFL bet for Sunday identified: 1 (Cincinnati +11)
Healthy meals eaten: 3 (No, McDonalds doesn't count in this catergory!)
Discovery of Padraigs nickname for Lothar Landuer: 1 ("Logo" Landauer, anyone who has met him will realise how funny this is..)
Pai Gow lessons from Kevin O'Connell and Ram Vaswani: 1 (and very short, due to appauling bad luck. However, I am somewhat dubious of Kevin's claim to have won 14 straight times earlier in the year)
Expensive lessons learned: 2 (Don't come to Vegas when skint and Don't put in third reraise with QQ against chip leader)

Going to try and play Saturday's No limit event and the Super satellite for the big event on Monday.

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Crickey, Another Great Stockingfiller!!!!

In case you need something for Auntie Gladys on December 25th... the perfect gift:

I can only marvel at Mark Napolitano's arrogance and egotism that enables him and his missus to be the subject for November.

Was I hearing Things?

For my sins I was watching the Pacific Poker UK Open on Challenge last night.

The deck ran over Jac Arama and he waltzed to victory.

Did I hear Gary Jones say in the background "Jac Arama is a lucky fish!"?

Why do they bother?

have you ever been playing a tournament on 'Stars when an observer message like this: "malamoney [observer]: Malamoney Open 11:55pm EST NLHE $10+1 All welcome" pops up?

I can accept people occasionally want to run a private tournament for friends.

But why would someone want to run a private event that is open to all?

What on earth is the point?
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