Your Suspicions Confirmed

Secrets of the WSOP Revealed

by , Jun 22, 2010 | 12:45 pm



To start, I must address the reasons for obscuring my identity. Matters such as the ones I’ll address in the coming paragraphs should be open to free and intelligent discussion within the community. Perhaps a person of stronger will would view the open airing of a difficult topic as so beneficial to all that he could ignore the personal discomforts. I think we all remember the second Star Trek movie, when Spock so logically stated that the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the one.

Sadly, however, I’m not the man Spock was, even though he’s only half man. The fact is, I fear for my safety, and you’ll understand why shortly. I must ask any poker media that wish to interview me after reading this piece to respect my desire for anonymity. All video must be shot in backlit silhouette so that my features are obscured and my
nose doesn’t look too large. I will conduct audio interviews if I can be assured that a filter will be applied that will make my voice indistinguishable form Alec Baldwin’s.

There are only two possible explanations for an onslaught of events such as these. The first is that ugly outcomes are a near mathematical certainty in tournament poker. The other is that you are terribly unlucky. If you run bad, there must be someone who runs like God.

The Truth of the WSOP
I’ve spent the last five summers in Las Vegas working around the WSOP, and every year I hear the same desperation. About two and a half weeks into the events, most players are feeling worn down by the tournament poker. Draws fail to materialize, decks run colder than an Alberta February, and beats so bad they leave scars occur constantly.

There are only two possible explanations for an onslaught of events such as these. The first is that ugly outcomes are a near mathematical certainty in the construct of tournament poker. The notion is that simple statistics all but guarantee that over a stretch of hundreds of hands that something either inescapable or unfortunate will occur that will relieve you of your chips. This, of course, is the more common and obvious explanation.

The other less frequently discussed possibility is that you—I mean you, the guy reading this—are terribly unlucky. You’re fortune’s bitch. A palm reader might look at your hand and say, “You poor fucking bastard.” Tony Robbins would tell you to give up as there’s really no point in trying.

If this second possibility is the case, there would be an inevitable corollary. If you run bad more than you ought to, there must be someone who continually runs like a fucking God.

I’m here to tell you that I’m that guy. I am the luckbox. I continually run great. If I happen to miss a flop, I nail the turn. If the river ran any better for me, I’d be pulling Chinook salmon off the felt. I don’t enter a race I don’t win. In several east coast states they’re considering rebranding the term “flopped set“ to my surname.

I won’t go into the specifics of my win rate or my ROI. I’ll just say that the numbers are terrific. They’re more than enough to prove what you suspected all along—that you are one unlucky piece of shit who has been cursed by whatever cruel deity has seen to making your life at the table one extended session of pure fucking misery. Any reprieve that you glimpse is just a sapling of hope that will be burned before its first bud sprouts.

You were right: your life sucks. And it sucks because mine is so great.

So now you know. You can go back to whining in good conscience. Bore your friends and tablemates with bad beat stories. It’s okay, you know you’re in the right.

I’ve discussed my conclusions with some poker playing friends and they took issue with my logic. They point out that while my returns are enviable, I don’t play excessively high. Further, they say that I tend to play only when I’m prepared to enjoy the experience no matter the outcome. My wife notes that I have a challenging job that rewards my expertise, education, and experience. So I’m prepared to look at poker as a pastime that happens to bring in some extra cash. A “great hobby,” she calls it.

But I know better. I’m lucky and you’re the pathetic bastard who manages to claw his way out of bed in the morning despite knowing that you’re skill and savvy have no way of overcoming the shit storm that’s going to befall you.

I’ve only played a couple of events so far this WSOP, and I’ve bricked everything. But I really don’t care. I’ll get back to winning, I always do eventually.

There, I’ve said it. But going forward I must remain unknown. I don’t want to be harassed or jeered. I’m happy with my life the way it is. I’d like it to stay that way.

Jay Greenspan is an industry veteran and author of Hunting Fish: A Cross-Country Search for America’s Worst Poker Players (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2007).

2 Comments to “Your Suspicions Confirmed ”

  1. Otis

    Well done, JG. Well done.

  2. Jules Winfield

    What, no Ezekiel 25:17 quote?