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Saturday, May 21, 2005

My Poker Fantasy
This is from Roy West's column in this week's Card Player:
There are, in most areas of public poker, some excellent players whose names you have never heard — and they want to keep it that way. They don’t enter tournaments, but they are at every major tournament, playing the side games. While the tournament players are trying to grind their way to the final table, with most of them never getting there, these no-names are playing and winning each day of the tournament. They have no desire to have their names known. (A good hustler has to remain anonymous.)

There are players with whom I’ve talked who say that if I ever mention their names, they will beat me silly with one of my own books. They want no limelight; they just want to sit quietly and win. They are the pros of the game whose names you never hear, but many of them make as much money as those whose names you do know. Don’t underestimate your competition just because you don’t see their names in Card Player every issue.
If tomorrow I were to suddenly acquire the bankroll and develop the skill to go pro, that's the kind of player I would want to be. The WPT is fun to watch, and sure, having a WSOP bracelet would be pretty cool, but my secret poker fantasy has always been to be the hustler.

I'd be at cocktail parties with my wife's high society friends (just kidding B) and the conversation would go like this:

Polite chitchatter: "So, what do you do for a living?"
Me [acting slightly uncomfortable]: "Me? Oh, I, um, play poker."
"Oh, like on TV?"
"Kind of."
'Do you make a lot of money?"
"I do okay."
"Have you been on TV?"
"Have you won any tournaments?"
[Polite chitchatter, assuming I must not be very good, changes subject.]

I can't really name you many pros who are true hustlers. By definition, if a low-limit playing WPT fanboy like me knows who they are, they can't really be hustlers. Tommy Angelo might come close: He plays for a living, and he sticks mostly to live cash games. (I like this article by him on the subject.) But mostly I think of him because I saw him once at Foxwoods and was struck by what he was wearing: Blue jeans, nondescript white t-shirt, uttlerly plain black jacket, and a black baseball hat devoid of any logo. That is what a hustler should wear.

Coming back to reality, I am not a hustler. Since I don't get to Vegas that often, when I do, I'm more likely to dress like Hawaiian shirt guy and, wherever I'm playing, I like to go for the Dean Martin routine as described by Joe Speaker. But I do own a nice plain black jacket.

This is exactly why I don't understand why Barry Greenstein gets so upset about not being more famous. He constantly has to talk about how great he and Giang and Reese are and about how the tournament players can't touch them and couldn't play in their cash game. While I'm sure it's all true, I find it bizarre that he cares so much what the media, who makes darlings of the tourney players, thinks or doesn't think of him. He's obviously beyond being anonymus, but I'm with you, if I could make that kind of money in the cash games I wouldn't care if I was on tv or on someone's list of the best.
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