Friday, November 04, 2005

Nice Guy Tony

The PokerNews Cup at the JPPA last night was good fun. We had a full house, since fifty people had signed up for the tourney and the room has five tables, so several folks wanted to sign up and had to be put in as キャンセル待ち, Waiting For A Cancellation, like they were trying to get a flight to Seoul on a Friday night.

Tony showed up shortly, dressed smartly in a grey suit with a blue PokerNews.com dress shirt, to applause from a packed poker room. He began with a short talk about his poker playing and thoughts, and then answered questions from the crowd, with Bluejay handling the translation to and from Japanese.

It caught me by surprise - "gracious" is the first word that comes to mind, and Tony was friendly and very approachable to everyone. Tony spoke a little bit about his play in the Aviation Club WPT episode that was on the tv as he arrived, and assured everyone with a grin that he does in fact know about figuring odds and which hands are good and which are garbage. But he suggested that at times in a tournament, particularly when it gets down to heads up, the odds aren't so important and it comes down to a coin flip anyhow, so your attitude and your willingness to get in there and mix it up without being sure you have the best hand becomes a lot more important. He noted that for most tournaments he would start out tightly, like most players, but would continue to loosen up as he got further in. "If you sit and play tight, you will not make it to the final table! You can't win a tournament playing that way."

He signed photos and posed for pictures for a while, chatting with everyone and answering more questions. I was impressed - I had been preparing myself for a obnoxious, egotistical, overbearing player, but Tony knew his business. He was there to spread goodwill and enthusiasm about poker, and he did the job excellently. But maybe things would change when the games started?

Not that I saw. I was actually knocked out fairly early (me with KK against 88, who called my reraise, hit trips, and sucked me in for the rest of my chips), so I didn't get a chance to play with Tony. With five tables, they assigned the five seat at each to one of the PokerNews.com crew, and would rotate them through the tables so that hopefully everyone would get a chance to face off with Tony G. Tony was also allowed one rebuy, so if he got busted out he could continue on and give the other players a shot at him and the bounty. It seemed to work pretty well - when I got knocked out on table 3, he was still playing on table 1 and had a decent stack of chips in front of him. I checked in later and his stack had taken a few hits and he got knocked out making an all-in call of another player. First bounty!

He bought in again and moved to table 3, my former table. Table 3 had been a rough table until that point, knocking out around 3 of the first 10 players, then bringing in players from full tables for balance, and continuing to cull the herd. When Tony got there, stacks were high and I think around 6 of the 10 or so players who had busted out had met their end at Table 3. The JPPA has a lot of sharp, solid players and Table 3 had some of the strong ones seated - Tony started with a short stack and didn't seem to catch anything good, so when I checked back again later he had been knocked out.

Was this really the guy from TV?

Most people have the capacity in them to become an obnoxious ass. But usually this comes out only in certain situations, when alcohol, stress, rejection, having your "buttons pressed", or the anonymity of the internet put you in that place where you go fuck it! and let your inner shithead out to rampage a while.

Usually you regret it afterwards (except for the internet one, maybe), but if it puts your opponents on tilt, making bad decisions, your inner shithead could end up making you a lot of money. Suddenly, being able to release this at will becomes a profitable skill.

I've heard the stories about Phil Hellmuth actually being a reasonable human being and nice guy away from the poker table - they usually make me roll my eyes and say yeah, right to myself. But now I can see it.

A lot of us don't want to see behavior like this at the poker table. But it seems to be working for these players and there are no apparent repercussions (other than Howard Lederer refusing to shake your hand). As players, we're going to need to learn to deal with it, or come up with some repercussions.

2 comments:

Marius said...

Hello,

is it possible to exchange links with you to http://jp.pokernews.com?

Best regards,

Marius
Pokernews.com
Marketing Manager
marius@pokernews.com

James said...

Sure, will do. Most of the folks who read this blog (there must be all of five or six of them) are probably English-speakers, but let's see.