Swimming with the Devilfish: Excerpt 1/5
Mike Sexton on “the poker jungle”
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(Extracted from Des Wilson’s “Swimming with the Devilfish” – now on sale)
“With the old school, the game’s the thing… I mean, back when we were playing the road in poker games, you had the thugs, the robbers, the thieves, the cheats and you had to play all those guys all the time …a lot of the older guys started playing poker in the backs of pool halls and they were in shady places with gangsters and all this kind of stuff. When the Brunson’s of this world started playing you fought fire with fire and you did what you had to do to survive. And guys were cheating and robberies were taking place and you did what you could to get the money and get out alive."
Do you think poker players are predators ?
“Poker is a jungle and it works just like a jungle. The strong feast on the weak and that’s the way the poker world is. It seems cruel to outsiders that literally you look for weak prey, and you attack them like a shark would and just gobble them up when you sense blood, but that’s what happens in the poker world. When you get ‘live one’s’ in the poker world, guys that have a big bankroll and want to play and don’t have the crucial extra ability the pros have, these are guys that you want to play with. I’ve often said you can go to the Bellagio, probably the best poker room in the world, lavish settings and all that and they have all these big games, but I could set a trailer up across the street and if we have the ‘live’ poker players and they’re going to play in the trailer rather than play in the Bellagio, that’s where we’ll play. You don’t want to sit down at a table everyday looking at all world champions because it’s going to be very tough to beat them.
“My favourite story in the poker world is about this guy called Eric Drache who used to run the WSOP. Eric was a good poker player himself, played seven card stud, and this reporter had been interviewing him, and after he did that he went to Doyle Brunson and said ‘ I understand Eric is a pretty good seven card stud player’, and Doyle says to him, ‘boy, he sure is, in fact he might be the seventh best seven card stud player in the world’, and the reporter said, “really? Wow! I didn’t have any idea he was that good.’ And Doyle says ‘the problem is, he keeps playing the top six.’”