Touching Poker Greatness
One of the great plusses in playing poker as a semi-pro is the lack of financial pressure when you hit a flat spot in your tournament results. Taking a break is not as punishing when you don’t have to rely on poker as your sole source of income. So, if you are not playing purely for financial gain what is the big attraction? I’ll tell you.
It’s all about playing against top drawer A-list poker cognoscenti. With all due respect to Devilfish, Wolfie and El Blondie I am talking about the true heavyweights. It doesn’t get much better than sitting next to Doyle Brunson for a couple of hours in a WSOP event or Gus Hansen in the London EPT event at the Vic.
If your game is half decent which mine threatens to be all too rarely it can be great fun to imagine you are in the same league as them. But the sad truth is that they are blessed with better cards and enjoy a great deal more luck than your average guy. How else do you explain two WSOP championship victories won with the monster hand of 10-2?
During my annual pilgrimage to the WSOP I have had more than my fair share of luck when it comes to playing partners. The name TJ Cloutier didn’t mean anything to me until someone explained that was why his 6-9 off-suit cracked my K-K.
Next up was Chris ‘Jesus’ Ferguson. All I would say, Chris, is that I think you possibly overplayed your 2-2 on a board of K-10-A-9-8. Not even celebrity luck could get you out of that one. I was quite sad to see him go – he was the undoubted value at the table.
In the same year as my encounter with Jesus I locked horns with a Mr Lederer. He’s a seriously nice guy and was kind enough to split an enormous pot with me holding A-7 against my A-K. Hold on, I think I know what’s going on here! The star-studded status means they don’t expect you to call their ambitious raises with mediocre holdings.
I did go one better against Amarillo Slim, defeating him on the first hand of heads-up battle in a one-table satellite when my A-A managed to outrun his 4-4. I was so excited and busy getting him to sign my copy of Tony Holden’s ‘Big Deal’ that I left the chipset they gave me for winning at the table, never to be seen again.
This year I have also suffered defeat at the hands of Hansen (his A-7 beat my 8-7), Brunson (because I put him on 10-2 every hand) and Johnny Chan (because I am allergic to the oranges he brings with him to the table).
But I treasure every one of these memories because this is what poker is all about. I know what separates these guys from the crowd and it has nothing to do with good fortune. They have a Zen-like focus that is quite awesome when you are up close and see it at first hand. You can reach out and touch it. And when you have touched it once, your craving for more will never be satisfied.
Warren Wooldridge is the co-founder of www.pokerverdict.com, a site for the European online poker community. The site features an online tournament search engine, player blogs and online poker news. Warren is also the CEO of www.easyodds.com