Ship It, Fish! - No Pro Reason 2: The Asshole Factor

About No Pro Reason 2: The Asshole Factor
Previous Entry No Pro Reason 2: The Asshole Factor Tuesday 12 June 2007 @ 13:25 Next Entry

I had built a list of reasons that I'm winding down playing of poker. I mostly wrote them out for myself, and had planned to make proper entries and post them here. As you might guess, because my decision was that I'd wind down my poker efforts, I have been slow to roll out the posts that explore the reasons that I made said decision.

My first reason dealt with the changing nature of game selection, and the second dealt with the concept that I didn't actually start playing (nor is it worth continuing to play) poker for the money. In this installment, I talk about a somewhat controversial issue, which I have long called the “asshole factor”.

In my many years of playing poker, I've discovered that once you reach “real stakes” — somewhere around $10/$20 in limit and $2/$5 in NL/PL — the makeup of people who play settles to a well-defined group. At the lower limits, you find all sorts of vacationing people, friendly folks, and various people who are just recreational players who don't spend a lot of time in the poker world. It's even fun to meet these new people; I know that I met some interesting characters at River Street, for example.

But, rarely do these recreational-focused players venture up to the middle and high limits. Once you get there, there are basically two types of people: (a) semi-pro or pro players who are moving up in stakes, and (b) assholes. The semi-pros/pros might be great people, but if your goal is to be a pro yourself, you don't want your game filled with these people. So, you're left with everyone else — the assholes. It's a simple fact: in my experience, in these games, with rare exceptions, everyone besides the pros are just plain jerks. I have some theories about this.

First, it's a certain class of people who are drawn to higher stakes gambling (BTW, if you aren't over the idea that poker isn't gambling, you should get over it — you are a gambler even if you only gamble (as I do) when you have the best of it). Usually, these non-pros are going have some set of psychological problems. They might be problem gamblers, or at least have an unhealthy relationship with gambling. And, even if this isn't their primary defining psychological illness, but it's likely that the series of illnesses they have are going to make them not nice people to be around.

Such people are often rude, nasty or otherwise generally unbearable. I've found it worse in east coast games than on the west coast, but it's often generally true everywhere. (This might, BTW, be due to the fact that the recreational player on the west coast gambles a bit higher, and therefore you have to go to higher stakes for the game-makeup to settle.)

Even if I believed (although I don't) that the point of life is to do whatever you want, I'm not sure that what I'd want to do is spend my time around these gamblers. Even the ones who aren't unbearable and are instead actually somewhat funny, aren't worth being around either. They are funny in that sad, pathetic way that makes one sick to one's stomach to laugh with (at?) them.

So, when you see me vacationing for a weekend here or there at a casino, you're definitely going to find me at the low-limit tables. If I'm going to spend my time playing poker, I want to meet some friendly people who aren't complete degenerates or pros gunning for cash.

And, if I don't want to play higher, making myself a full-time pro would be silly, because I can't earn enough at those jovial, friendly games to make a real living.

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From:i_o_ on 12 June 2007 at 18:25
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but listen - first of all the live games differ from online. Indeed, online 2-5 NL would have only semi-pros and jerks mostly.. not to mention 5-10 and 10-20..
But in live games (as u surely mentioned few times your self) stakes significantly differ in its value.

and considering your knowledge/skill level, u can not play wrong limits (aka lower stakes).

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So, when you see me vacationing for a weekend here or there at a casino, you're definitely going to find me at the low-limit tables.
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well common sense right ?
but i just recently found out that my levels are not $5 SNG/tourneys, but already a $20-$30 SNG/TRN for a while, and i haven't been moving up levels, (which was wrong because my game moved on the different level), and kept breaking even for some reason.

well, i have moved up recently. And it indeed made most positive change to my bankroll.
"know your limits, play with it" ©


u know ? )



but then it seems u got loads of inside frustration for this matter, so keep making up excuses to suppress that tiny "what u really want". :)
but hey, maybe after all this drama, we'll see u at the final wsop table eventually.
it just seem like u deserve it.. ))
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From:shipitfish on 12 June 2007 at 21:31
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first of all the live games differ from online.

Actually, I'm talking primarily about live games here. Online, it's easy to ignore assholes: just mute the chat. Even at 2/5 in casinos, I don't see as many random tourists who play for only a few hours and move on. Those are generally the nicest people to meet (that aren't total sharks :)

maybe after all this drama

I don't think I'd call it drama. I just decided most poker isn't worth playing.

From:(Anonymous) on 18 June 2007 at 14:07
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Man, what is up, sounds like drama to me. I actually enjoy beating assholes at the table - makes taking their money that much easier to do, not that I feel guilty taking money from the nice guys... I'm a good poker player (netting over 10K a year over the past 3 years) and don't think I'm an asshole or a semi-pro. I play at Foxwoods once a month and only a short list of the people at 20-40 (where I play) are assholes. Yes its more competive than splashing around at 2-4, but then it should be. I would argue you get more assholes at 4-8 and 5-10 than 20-40 because the college frat kids that fill most of the 5-10 tables can not afford to be playing that level and the money means more to them the the older well-to-do players that play 20-40. So when a kid loses his weekend clubbing stash of $500 playing 5-10 he's more likely to have a tantrum than a retired business man who lost $1000 playing 20-40. Also those same frat punk kids play NL - where you have been hanging around lately and the egos in NL are even more intense and the asshole factor is even higher. I enjoy poker as entertainment and for the extra cash flow... yes it has assholes, just like any other kind of competition. I mean that's why the worl loves whatching Mike Matasow or Phil Helmuth - they love watching their tantrums... not because they are assholes, because they are passionate about the game.
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From:shipitfish on 18 June 2007 at 18:58
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Actually, I think the world loves watching assholes on TV. :) Anyway, if you are a winning player, you are effectively a semi-pro. What else could you be?
From:(Anonymous) on 19 June 2007 at 13:59
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Honestly if you understand poker - you understand Phil and Mike are not assholes. They are professionals who want to win very bad and they may have some self-esteem issues. This is why Phil enters all the WSOP events, he thinks if he holds the most braceletes he will get more respect, but I think deep down he knows he needs to change his table manners before that happens. Mike gets it more - his loud behavior is 1/2 act 1/2 him - he knows it gets ratings and drives people to watch him play, he never even has to win an event, his personality is all he needs to become a poker legend. And they both are still beloved by their fellow pros who poke fun at them and care about them all at the same time. I've only met a couple true real jerks in the game over the past 10 years - and don't see it as a reason to quit playing. You have to love the competition and crave it - poker isn't a social round (oval) table where friends are gathering to discuss sports or politics - although those discussions come up often, it's still just a GAME, where real money happens to be on the line and that brings out emotions in different ways for each player.
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From:shipitfish on 19 June 2007 at 16:44
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I think Hellmuth and Matusow are true jerks, precisely because they have psychological problems (maybe self-esteem issues, maybe others too) that they don't get treated. Matusow talks about lots of medication, but he doesn't talk about being in serious psychotherapy. I don't think Hellmuth could even get his ego in check long enough to consider psychotherapy at all.

The poker world really does attract some sick people, in the same way alcohol or other activities that are quickly and easily abused do. This is why I make the distinction between the higher limits and the baby stakes. At baby stakes, you find lots of good people who aren't really immersed in the poker world but are merely vacationing for a weekend. in it. At the higher stakes, there are mostly people who have psychological problems that compel them to be there (or, they are semi-pros trying to take advantage of those psychological problems).

Either way, it's not something I want to be a part of. Perhaps roryk eventually convinced me — people playing poker are generally all pretty sick people most of the time.

From:anne1204 on 11 January 2011 at 17:10
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I understand what you mean, but for me poker is still a great way to have fun. Perhaps that is because i play it online, on most USA casinos websites and i don't have to deal with people unless i chose so. It's sad to hear someone like you so disappointed by the higher level players, but i guess you know better, i haven't got that far yet.
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