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November 12, 2005

Play The Game Or Go Away

Posted at November 12, 2005 07:01 AM in Personal Rants , by Sack.

I can’t sit here and pretend to be some old timer who’s been around the block in the poker world for years and years. I can’t say I sat down with the likes of a Johnny Moss back in the good ol’ days. I can’t even say I’m some historian who can track the progress of poker through it’s lifetime. But what I do know is about sportsmanship, professionalism, and respect. Three things that are unfortunately taking a downward trend in the game we love.

Thanks to Al Spath for an article I read of his from pokerpages, he opened my eyes to something I already saw-- but did not have the experience to realize exactly what I was seeing.

Although poker is a game that requires certain “dirty deeds” to simply play, it has also always been considered somewhat of a gentleman’s game. Obviously any genre of anything you can imagine will have it’s share of asses along the way, but overall, for all of what poker is, it has always been respectable if nothing else. There is a fine line between confidence and asinine cockiness. That line is being crossed by more and more people.

You see it on the broadcasts on TV. Idiots jumping up and screaming, bragging about how great they are because they played crappy cards that one. Banging fists on tables, pounding chests, causing complete commotion because in their pathetic brains they ARE the poker world and all should take notice. There is a certain acceptable amount of table chatter and such… even a little pump of the fist with a sigh of relief as you win your all-in is fine. But berating other players and acting like a complete buffoon has become something seen more and more often as of late.

Let’s take pool as an example here. Back several years around the time of the great depression, pool hit and incredible high in popularity. At the time it was a gentleman’s game and in general matches were done with respect. Over time the lure of hustling and shady characters began to take over the scene, and eventually the simple act of going to play pool was not of any interest to your average Joe. It just wasn’t worth the time and the hassle. Many world famous pool halls were forced to close down, and the game was left with not much more than a tarnished image. Eventually years later certain governing bodies of the billiard world have taken some incredible steps to revamp the image of the game, and over time it has now become respectable again. Suddenly pool is back on an upswing and growing in popularity once again, but it has taken an amazing amount of work to get it back to an everyman’s type of hobby.

Why is poker such a booming business right now? Because anybody can learn to play, play it well, and do it as cheaply as they want to. It’s fun for anybody that wants to play… period. The pros have always played the game and always will, that will never change. But what makes prize pools of millions on top of millions of dollars is the Joe Nobodies that are able to enter the tournaments because they love to play the game. When Mr. Jackass is at your table acting a fool, a lot of the fun part of the game is compromised and will eventually run Joe Nobody away from poker if he’s not getting rich off of it. Eventually the true pros will eliminate the Mr. Jackasses, and all that will be left are the professionals and rounders (eerily similar to billiards being left with only “pros” and “hustlers” when it reached it’s bottom).

So to the hotheads and the idiots out there: learn a little something about class and respect. Eventually your chip stack will dwindle away to nothing. But respect is something that can never be lost unless you throw it away. Win a hand, be happy and gracious and get ready for the next. Lose a hand, suck it up and hope to do better next time. Say nice hand, nice play, smile and shake hands. If you’re going to try to play with the big boys in a professional setting, at least pretend like you should be there.

respectfully yours,


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