Sunday, September 19, 2004

"If you want the rainbow, you've gotta put up with the rain - do you know which philosopher said that? Dolly Parton. And people say she's just a big pair of tits."
David Brent

Howdy all, thanks for stopping by this humble poker blog. I've got plenty to chat about before my Bengals appear on national TV (first time since 1996) in a few hours. It's been a long 14 years, folks, and I doubt any of you can understand the depths of despair us Cincinnati Bengal fans have gone through lo these many years.

In Marvin We Trust.

Anyway, this will be a seriously disjointed post because I began drinking several hours ago and plus, I have no idea what I'm going to blog about. Poker, I guess. I might even try to blog every nite this week before I take off for Atlantic City and Fun at the Borgata.

Damnit, sign up on Party Poker with Bonus Code IGGY. Do it now and thank me later.

Anyway, this weekend was an ugly one for poker. Damn variance.

The only fun I had was late friday nite when I decided to slum with Hel1xx and play some 50.1. Apparently I brought him some wonderful luck as he ran over the table, winning about 50 big bets. But then, poker bloggers suddenly started appearing at our table. Suddenly, at midnight, the bloggers had taken OVER the table. Hilarious.



My favorite lines were Pauly continually saying:

Pauly: alcantfold
Pauly: alcantlimp

Which was certainly true. Al played a kickass game of raise or fold.

Suffice to say, it got nuts. You can read better accounts of this drunken, funny game at Pauly's or Al's or Hel1xx's or Ugarte's poker blogs.

All were fine writeups but Ugarte had me chuckling with this line:

Iggy checked for signs of life by poking me with a stick in the chat. Frankly, I’d rather he actually poked me with a hot stick than raise my big blind every time, but guess which one he did.

Also, I think Pauly made a superb observation about:

Poker used to be a social event for me. I love a good party. In the last year or so, I adopted a more serious approach to poker. And at times, that new mentality took a lot of the fun out of the game. Sure I have plenty of poker passion, but the fun had slowly slipped away in my most recent sessions. Last night was unlike so many other nights. I actually had a blast... losing. I guess technically everyone was on tilt, playing garbage starting hands and trying to outbluff each other. Maybe it was the liquor or the pain killers or the excitement, but that table was one of the best I ever sat down at.

That speaks volumes.
We should do this again. It was too damn funny.

Also, God have mercy on the non-poker-bloggers caught in the middle of this stampede next week. It's gonna be quite the scene. Ditto for Al's bash on Saturday. Anyone who wants to come get trashed with some poker bloggers, please hit Al's site for the details. Al throws quite the yearly party.

Be very afraid.

Moving along, I'm still way behind on my poker reading. I keep reading all these posts from college drop-outs who are attempting to go "pro" by playing poker online full-time. It makes me cringe, mostly. Poker is one of those life skills that you can continually hone through experience and study, not something to be jumped into without a serious gameplan. Seemingly every day, a kid experiences an explosion with his bankroll and jumps into the fray as a pro. And for 99% of these guys, it's going to be a temporary thing, there's a psychic credit-card bill in the mail, somewhere, and I'm sad for them in advance about the eventual impending collapse.

I had a fascinating conversation once with someone who told me (not in these words, I'm simply paraphrasing) that progress towards World Class Poker Play is slow, frustrating, humbling. A question less of talent than temperment. Basically because you proceed through mastery through a series of plateaus, there's a bunch of radical poker improvements up to a certain plateau, with the only way to get off to climb the next one up ahead is with a whole lot of frustrating tough play/emotions, conceptual understandings, and mostly patience and hanging in there while you learn. This relates to anything, I suppose, and not just poker.

There aren't many who can slog along on the patient road towards mastery. Of those who can't, there are basically three types. You've got the Despairing type, who's fine as long as he's in the quick improvement stage before a plateau. But then he hits a plateau and sees himself starting to stall, not getting better as fast or perhaps even getting a little worse, and this type gives into frustration and despair. Just because he hasn't got the humbleness or patience to hang in and slog, and he can't stand the time to work. What happens? He bails.

K, then you've got #2, the Obsessive type, so eager to plateau-hop he doesn't even know the word patient much less humble or slog. When he gets stalled at a plateau he tries to will and force himself off it, by sheer force. Obsessively reading and studying and playing and running sims and then playing more and more, as in frantically, until he overdoes it and cripples his game with Leaks because he can't step back and watch himself. IE: Focusing too much on pre-flop standards and not post-flop or worse, taking loose aggressive to tiltable standards. Pretty soon his poker game is riddled with poor plays and he hobbles at the table still obsessively playing until finally he isn't even able to comprehend what is going on in the game anymore. His bankroll withers and dies.

And now for the worst type. The one I personally relate to the most, the Complacent type, who improves radically until he hits a plateau, and is content with the radical improvement he's made to get off a few plateau's, and doesn't mind staying at this last plateau because it's comfortable and familiar, and he doesn't worry about getting off it. Pretty soon you find he's developed a whole game around compensating for the weaknesses and chinks in the armor the given plateau represents in his poker game, still - his whole game is based on this plateau now. And little by little, guys he used to beat soundly start beating him, locating some chinks. He'll say he doesn't care, he's playing cause he loves poker and hell, the cards aren't running his way and he always smiles but there has got to be something tight and hangdog about his smile, and he keeps smiling and is real nice and funny to everybody and real good to have around but he keeps staying where he is while other guys hop plateaus, and he gets beat more and more but he's content.

At some point, perhaps when this poker blog has outlived it's usefulness and I finally put it to bed, I'll return to giving actual poker play ALL of my focus and energy and use this so-called talent. Talent is it's own expectation, gentle reader, it is there from the start and either lived up to or lost. And damn, writing this out makes me realize how complacent I've become once again. I knew this blog would be good for something cathartic, eventually.

In essence, the above is Mike's beef with Knish in Rounders. My internal rambling dialogue on this here blog. And I believe this is my first ever Rounders reference in my blog. I've officially jumped the shark.

I could have skipped everything above and simply said, "I've regressed and I'm a lazy fuck."

Go read Hank's new poker post where he makes the excellent point:


Reading players and hands is the most important skill in aggressive games-- calculating pot odds and tight play becomes far less important, since it's extremely difficult to put a loose-aggressive player on a hand

K. rambling over. Sadly, Guinness makes me overly verbose.
My humble apologies.

Let's lighten things up a bit. Here's a cartoon:

Everyone knows by now that Paul Phillips rules and RGP sucks since he left. As I've said before, Paul is actually a lot like me, only successful.

So go NOW and read this page where Paul shows shady ESPN editing in the WSOP:
ESPN vs. Reality

Can you believe I have even MORE poker blogs to pimp? I'll hopefully get to them next time. For now I shall just regurgitate all the Josh Arieh asshole and apologist posts I found interesting. Lot's of poker pro's gave their two cents below, from Edog, to Greg Raymer, to Lou Kreiger, to Daniel Negreanu, to Paul Phillips et al. Enjoy.

Let's start with Josh's apology in RGP:

My big hand with Harry, from the Ass himself

From: josh arieh (anonymous@comcast.net)

First off i want to apoligize for the way i acted after winning that hand... let me explain myself... Imagine believing you are going to win 5 million dollars the whole time you are playing and seeing it all flash in front of you at once... i was definitely caught up in the moment and acted childishly. I am definitely an emotional player, but not to that extent... As i watched tonights show, i couldnt believe the way i acted and wanted to publicly apoligize to harry, it disgusted me to watch my reaction... I should have reacted in a much more professional manner...
Now to explain the hand.. i raised in first position, then after the flop i had 900k remaining, i bet 400k, basically telling my opponents that i am playing this hand to the river... AJ wasnt a hand i thought an opponent would shove with... i was wrong, there was a moment of shock, dissapointment, and humility all at the same time... hopefully that explains the way i acted... At this point in the tournament every hand is the most important hand of your life... i lost my cool and i want to send a sincere apology to Harry, and when i see him in person i will apoligize again.. thats not like me, i just hope that people that know me explain that i am a compationate person who cares about others feelings... Dont get me wrong i looked at the WSOP this year as a war for 5 million dollars, thats why you will see me needle people here and there, but that was uncalled for and was kicking someone when they were down... i hope you understand

Of course, he was flamed unmercilessly. Rather than pick out one of 80 million individual flames, allow me to post RGP stalwart, Arlo Payne's post on the matter that doesn't directly address Josh:

When you play without class.

From: Arlo Speaks

Many of the new young players (mind you, not all) just don't understand what is involved in making real money playing poker.

Sure you can grind out in the low and mid range games but when you reach the high levels you must consider who is feeding and funding the game. Oh you can hit it big in a major tournament but this really only happens to a few each year and one year does not make a life time.

In low and mid level games you have a lot of people trying to grind it out or dealers feeding back in their tokes. These people you can abuse if you must. However I have never understood how someone could find a reason to bad mouth someone based on their play. You should love it when people play bad not bitch about it.

The true feeders in the higher games are mostly people with money that like to play cards and also enjoy a good time. When you have an ass or two in the game many times the players feeding in the money walk away.

I have seen big game after big game killed by one or two jerks that don't know how to control their mouths. When I was playing high limits you can bet I was a real sweetheart to those that lost week after week. Those in the know know you never ever say anything bad because you want these people to want to play with you. I would
always make it a point to remember anything they told me about their personal life and would always make it a point to ask about their kids or what ever interest they had going.

In the 90s when I was playing almost full time I had a day job making around 125K per year and winning around 120K per year playing cards. I had no time to grind it out nor did I have any need to put up with jerks. Many times we would just freeze the jerks out of the game and by the time they got in on any given day we would just break the game.

For many different reasons I found myself in Tucson. I was part of a pretty sweet private 1k 2k mixed game. However this game has faded away due to the summer plans of most that head out of the heat and my back that really stuck me to the house almost all summer. Now Arizona has killed off the pot limit games and in Tucson when you go out to the casinos there is nothing worth playing unless you want to grind it
out for a buck or two and deal with nut cases. Now do you really think any of the jerk asshole types could get into a private 1k 2k game? Not a chance the people in the game just will not have anything to do with anyone that displays no class. The only reason I was in the game I am from this area and my family is well known in a few correct groups and I can be so much fun and just a sweetheart to play with :)

I no longer need or care about making money but I do hate to see people go down the wrong path for the wrong reasons.

If you are going to play poker and try and make some real money remember where it is coming from and take care of your sources.

An email sent to Norman Chad about Josh Arieh from Erick EDog Lindgren

Thanks again for the beer at the wsop it went down nicely for warm miller. I have a few thoughts about the wsop broadcast and wondered how you felt
about them.

I sweated Josh from the minute I was knocked out of the tournament....in fact I became his coach. I decided the only way to make it thru the tournament and all the highs and lows was to make him a warrior. I'm not talking your average aggressive poker player, I'm talking Kellen Winslow locker room speech. For the duration of the tournament he was the best player and to be honest I'm not sure there was a close second, tho the play of john murphy and greg raymer was very good. Josh was in the zone. He was picking up chips by stealing like a madman and picking off bluffs.

It was his tournament. I preached to him that this was his shot and he was the best and fuck luck, he was going to win. This is why when Harry Demetriou made a very questionable call that he was shooting glances at me and wondering why Harry had called. I won't get into the specifics of the call but with Josh raising up front and then betting half his stack on the flop there was no way that Harry had him beat unless Josh held exactly what he did, a straight and flush draw. After five days of blood sweat and tears his tournament was on the line. The one thing we had talked
about was eliminating luck as much as possible, this wasnt the situation Josh wanted to play but with the price he had to. In this instance it is hard to defend Josh's behavior but I will. His tourney was on the line and sure he got lucky. His celebration is no different than Ray Lewis making a great tackle and trash talking or T Mac smoking his defender and letting him know about it on the other end. I felt it wasn't fair to portray Josh as such an ass. He broke no rules, nor did he attack anyones character. He challenged Harry's call just as a hoopster might say you reach, I teach. The berating of Josh continued as in his interview Josh claimed he outplayed his opponents 95% and that he was the best player at the final table and was going to win. Now he was "cocky" and a young punk. What he said he believed and I wish each player at the final table had felt the same way, but they didn't. In all honesty the only players who played to win and thought they could were Dan and Greg, the others simply tried to move up. Go ahead, ask them who the best player was and they would readily admit it. Josh made one of the best laydowns in poker television history when he made his flush and laid it down, but it was hardly a blurb on the show.

I apologize for going off and enjoy what you bring to the show minus a lack of some knowledge of the game. It seems you may be to focused on what the cards are not what the thought processes are in the players minds. ( David Williiams play with the two fives vs josh was awful) I just felt he didn't get a fair shake in the coverage and wish it would have portrayed poker talent more than character. After all we arent paid athletes, the only way we get paid is to win and that's exactly what he deserved.

best regards
Erick Lindgren

Hrmm, the football analogy is just plain stupid, imho. Erick was flamed pretty hard as well, but would you expect anything less?

Lou Krieger did chime in, though:

Poker reveals character like little else. But the way one behaves at the table is simply a matter of choice. Although he might have been the best player at the table, that's no guarantee that he was going to win, and if David Williams made a poor play with his pair of fives and got lucky, that's poker too. I watched the final table from the stands and was very impressed with Arieh's play. I thought he and Raymer played extremely well, as did Dan Harrington. But you couldn't hear the remarks Josh made from where I was sitting, so all that revealed itself was the stunning quality of his play. It was only later, on TV, that the quality of his character revealed itself. But I'm betting, and hoping, that Arieh learns from this and behaves differently in the future. He's a terrific player and he might as well decide to be a terrific person too. But only time will tell, and the choice is his.
Lou Krieger

Daniel Negreanu couldn't resist his two cents. Check out his new poker site in his sig file at the end of his post.

My thoughts on the whole "Josh Arieh Thing"

From: Daniel Negreanu

I consider Josh a friend but the purpose of this post isn't to defend his behaviour during the WSOP broadcast. Anybody who watched it, INCLUDING Josh knows that he was out of line on a few occassions.

The reason for this post is to illustrate how much power we (the players) give over to the people putting on a show when we sign those release forms. Basically, once we sign those papers they can tell any story they want to tell, and they can tell it any way they feel with get the best ratings. Hey, I can't say I blame them.

What I can say is that it was pretty clear to me that they took those few bits (where Josh was out of line) and summed up his character based on those actions.

For example, there was one clip where they focused in on Josh looking flustered by Matt Dean's call with JJ. Josh was just looking over at Erick like, "What the?" He wasn't saying anything to Matt, he wasn't going off on him or anything like that, but they used that shot to make Josh look even worse.

There were two hands left off the show where Josh played brilliantly. Two stone cold bluffs that would have showed how well Josh was playing. That wasn't the story they were trying to tell though. They were selling Josh "the Punk" not Josh "the Great Player." The hand where Josh makes a great laydown with a king high flush, there
was NO mention of the great laydown really. Instead, they said something to the effect of, "John Murphy with some great play continues to build his stack."

Again, I think Josh acted like a jerk on several occasions, but I know Josh and know that he is not a jerk. At this point, there is little Josh can do to prove to anybody that he is truly embarrassed about the way he acted. He's already apologized here publicly, and I'm assuming learned a great deal from his first TV appearance.

Back to the point, again I don't condone Josh's behaviour on the show one bit. I just want to warn the viewers that you may not be getting the whole story. If the producers want a villian, they can make anyone a villian just the same way they can make a chump look like a hero.

I guess this applies to all television, especially reality shows. Personally, I try to avoid judging anybody based on what I see on TV. It's not real, it's edited.

Daniel Negreanu

Some peanut gallery observations:

The notion that he *didn't* think it would be overheard is even more telling. It reveals his true nature. A mean-spirited, cocky, arrogant prick. Defend him all you want. He may possess keen poker skills, but his social skills are sadly lacking. I was thrilled when Raymer busted him.


i respect your view as well as Ericks but maybe you are too close to the subject. ESPN did not edit Josh Arieh telling David Williams to beat that mutherfucker..twice. Any more then they edited Scott Fischman doing the fosbury flop on the table. any more then they edited Mike Matasow telling Greg Raymer about his balls.

They may have edited out other evidence Of Josh, Scott and Mike being good sportsmen but who cares? Someone who is a good sportsman some of the time and a bad sportsman some of the time is a BAD sportsman. Someone who shows class some of the time and a total lack of class some of the time has NO class.


Very well said! Like the reality tv slut: "They didn't show the 8 out of 12 days I didn't get blindingly drunk and bang a random dude!"

Sheesh. As if the producers put the words in Josh's mouth.
Where do you people come from?

How you handle stressful situations *is* your character.


Dude showed zero class when he lost.

Bust that MFer?

Seriously, this isn't high school.

You learn a lot about people when they lose. The guy won $2.5 million dollars. More money than most people can ever dream of having in their entire working lives. And all he can exit with is Bust that MFer?

Seriously, Daniel, I even buy the fact that ESPN tried to make the guy look like an ass, but he showed zero grace, zero class, and deserves the criticism. It is pathetic to win that much money and act like a spoiled little 12 year old. 99% of the people in the world would take that kind of payday and be thankful, not spiteful. He played well, but acted like a bitch.


Well, Dan, I know you have assumed this odd role of World Class Player's apologist for jerk-like behaviour.

You did it for Hellmuth and now you're doing it for Arieh.

"They're not really jerks, they just played jerks on television"

I've said this before and I've said it again -- how you behave when things are at their worst demonstrates something at the core of your character...

I remember when you got busted out of that tournament on TV and you were kind of pissed off at your finish (something about "not being able to get a car" with what you'd won)

A couple of people trashed you for that, but I thought you were mostly angry with yourself -- you didn't blame other players, and you didn't trash them when they busted you. You showed class.

Phil doesn't show that when he gets busted and neither did Arieh.


John Harkness

And I loved this post:

Subject: If Josh Arieh was someone else...

If Josh Arieh was Howard Lederer:

"You are the worst player ever Brunson. How the hell did you ever win one
of these things. Putting all your chips in on just a flush draw? I had a
set of 7s. I could beat you any day of the week. I'm the best player
here...I should have won." (Actual Lederer response: "Good hand Dolly")

If Josh Arieh was Doyle Brunson:

"WTF? You called my all-in with A7 offsuit? What kind of loser freak are
you. You are the worst player I've ever met. I'm the best player in this
tournament and some freak beats me with hand like that." (Actual Brunson
response: a smile and a wave)

And from the King of Snark, Paul Phillips weighs in from his poker blog. I'm still gonna quote it here, though, for the two of you don't visit his site.

josh arieh

In the post-WSOP discussions on rgp and twoplustwo, everybody I've seen who was at the final table with josh (mike mcclain, greg raymer) or knows him personally (erick lindgren, daniel negreanu, myself) has said that he was quite unfairly portrayed on television. I think that should be a clue to everyone willing to hate the guy based only on what was shown. Neither mike nor greg is the sort of person to have ANY reservation about calling a spade a spade.

Mike said: "I also think Josh was unfairly portrayed. I played with him for two days and never witnessed anything that was shown by ESPN. Still, he obviously gave them something to work with, since they were able to find a few snippets of poor behavior. I know of a few things that I said and did during the telecast that could have been used to portray me rather poorly, but they chose Josh as the bad boy."

Greg said: "I think he's mostly a nice guy who said a couple of things he now regrets, and most of them being things he thought he was saying privately. [...] If anything, I take his "bust that MF" comment as a compliment."

Plenty of people just don't seem to believe that it's possible to take film out of context -- I mean, the guy obviously really did what you just saw, right? I see these as the same kind of people who walked out of "Fahrenheit 9/11" and "Bowling for Columbine" saying "wow, michael moore is a genius who has opened my eyes to the truth."

And let's finish with 2004 WSOP champ Greg Raymer and his wise thoughts:

Re: Paul Phillips comments on Arieh and Williams

In what I think will be food for thought for many posters here, my opinion is a lot more like Paul's than it is like most of the posts about Josh here. I think he's mostly a nice guy who said a couple of things he now regrets, and most of them being things he thought he was saying privately.

If anything, I take his "bust that MF" comment as a compliment. I am going to assume, at the risk of being wrong, that I got under his skin without ever being a jerk about it. That is, having me behind him for a day and a half, and my frequent playing back at him got him at least somewhat upset with me. Such that, when it came down to Dave and I, Josh was cheering for Dave (since Dave didn't make his poker life so difficult during the proceeding couple of days).

Later, Greg Raymer (FossilMan)

Geez, that was a ton of formatting. Thanks to anyone who read this far.

Dear Lord, what a drunken, awful post.

Please consider bonus code IGGY on Party Poker. The fish are in full-force and you owe it yourself to give it a whirl.

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