All sorts of people play poker in casinos and cardrooms

All sorts of people play poker in casinos and cardrooms

December 05, 2017 3:00 AM


All sorts of people play poker in casinos and cardrooms – tall and short, fat and skinny, young (must be over 21; 18 in Indian casinos) and old. You name it, they are there. And, for sure, there are also idiots – to use Phil Hellmuth’s description of a player who should have folded his hand, but instead stayed in the hand and beat him out.

There is one guy (I hesitate to call him a man) who is there almost every time I play at my favorite casino. At least once a session he loudly and unmercifully berates an opponent whose play he doesn’t agree with. “You are a terrible player,” he shouts at the top of his voice. “You ought to learn how to play! Go read a poker book.” And then, when an opponent raises him on the river, he scowls at him in anger. “Why did you raise me? It was just the two of us!” For lack of a more descriptive term, I call him Mr. Ugly. It seems to fit so well.

I should add, in all the time I have played at the same table with him, I have never once seen Mr. Ugly leave a winner. There are, indeed, times when he gets lucky and is ahead – for a while; but before long his chips are gone and he buys another batch. This happens so often.

There was a time when he was coughing uncontrollably. That happens to him quite often. (I have observed he is a heavy smoker, often taking a break from the game to go outside to smoke a cigarette.) On one occasion, I handed him a cough drop to relieve his violent coughing spell. Did he say “thank you” to me? No way. Instead, as he quickly grabbed the cough drop from my hand, he scowled and looked away as he unwrapped it and shoved into his mouth. That’s Mr. Ugly.

I must admit, never again will I ever offer him any help. In fact, I avoid communicating with him as much as possible, and pay no attention when I am the subject of his abusive words. So far, I have never seen another player react to his terrible demeanor. (Perhaps it’s because he is so big and overweight – or we just don’t have any respect for him.) I have rarely seen him attack a woman with his vitriolic language – mostly men. Interesting. The only time I have ever seen him smile was when he was talking to a pretty cocktail waitress.

Now, don’t think I shy away from playing poker against him. I love it when he comes to our table, or is already seated there as I join the game. While he is wont to berate others for how they play, he has to be one of the worst players I have ever seen. For one thing, he plays almost every hand dealt to him; so I know he plays lots of poor starting hands.

Anyone who consistently plays more than one out of three starting hands, is a PokerPigeon, to use the words of my poker mentor, George “The Engineer” Epstein. And then he chases most hands all the way to the river. (“Chasers are losers.” Again I quote George.) I do wonder: Does he know anything about the importance of outs?

Obviously, I have little regard or respect for Mr. Ugly. But, I must admit I am pleased to see him at our table; I know I will win his chips – sooner or later. And he does make the game more interesting. Just don’t take him too seriously.