Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heroes, Villains, and Haralabos Voulgaris

Way, way, way back when I first started this blog, Haralabos Voulgaris was one of the very first poker pros about whom I wrote a post. It was a short one, just praising him for being so friggin’ funny on an episode of the old Circuit podcast with Scott Huff, Joe Sebok, and Gavin Smith. The post was titled “Hilarious Haralabos.”

In fact, looking back I think that was probably the very first post in which I tried to write about something other than my own play or to pretend to offer some kind of pseudo-strategy-type talk. This was late May 2006. Over the next few months I’d write about other things happening in the poker world, including that year’s WSOP. Then in October came the UIGEA, and that’s when the blog really started to focus more on the poker world at large with my own little poker stories only occasionally appearing as part of the overall mix.

Voulgaris would go on to co-host a podcast with Huff, Big Poker Sundays. That show was very well liked, I recall, in part because of Voulgaris’s readiness to share opinions and not pull punches regarding things like the insider cheating scandal at Absolute Poker and other knotty matters. (People also liked BPS because Voulgaris is a funny dude, as is Huff.)

More of a sports bettor than a poker player, Voulgaris kind of receded from the poker scene a bit over the next few years, although he did turn up on High Stakes Poker and also participated in the “Big One for One Drop” at the WSOP this past summer. He also has kept contributing now and then to certain conversations in the poker community via Two Plus Two posts and his Twitter account (@haralabob).

Back in March of this year, when the extent of Erick Lindgren’s gambling debts became public and inspired one of those conversations in the poker community, Voulgaris shared some details of “E-Dog” owing him considerably (i.e., millions) and his six-year struggle to get paid. I wrote some about all that here in a post titled “Hero Call.”

There I discussed (in part) the idea of “heroes” in poker. “I can’t really say I ever thought of any players in such a way,” I wrote, “although perhaps that says more about me and my (modest) aspirations as a poker player than anything.” I went on to suggest that when it came to identifying heroes among professional poker players, it was perhaps best not to choose from those who are the biggest winners (see Phil Hellmuth), but rather to look at “those who are best able to promote and preserve the game -- the ‘ambassadors’ or others who actively work to keep the game going (so to speak) for the rest of us.”

Anyhow, I was reminded of that post and the issue again this week when Voulgaris published a post on his blog titled “Heroes and Villains in Poker.” (Apologies for having a similar title for this post, but really, the alliteration was too alluring to avoid.)

In the post, Voulgaris primarily addresses “Black Friday and the FTP fiasco,” although additionally shares more about his dealings with Lindgren. He also has some things to say about Daniel Negreanu’s calling out of certain figures (e.g., Howard Lederer) while omitting doing so with others (e.g., Lindgren).

“Black Friday turned the poker world on its ear,” writes Voulgaris. “People who were heroes (as much as a poker player could be I suppose) have since been cast as villains, and it has actually become quite difficult to discern (aside from a few obvious choices) who the heroes and the villains in [the] post Black Friday poker world are.”

Voulgaris makes an excellent point, and his post provides still more food for thought, too. And for those wanting more details regarding Lindgren and his debt to Voulgaris, he’s added a lengthy addendum in a contribution to a Two Plus Two thread discussing his original blog post.

While offering some criticism of Negreanu, Voulgaris also praises him for mostly being what I’m describing above as a worthy “ambassador” of the game. That is to say, a “hero” (of sorts), although like Voulgaris I share that urge to add qualifiers when using such a term in the context of poker and poker players.

Anyhow, check out Voulgaris’s post which offers some genuine insight and goes well beyond just dishing more dirt on another now-fallen poker “hero.”

It’s not nearly as hilarious as that appearance on The Circuit, of course. Unfortunately those old shows have all disappeared from the CardPlayer site, although as I was talking about a few weeks ago, I have a number of old poker podcasts saved and in fact do have that very show. (I’d post here, but am sure CardPlayer would object.)

Gonna go listen now. Seem to remember something pretty good in there about Freddy Deeb....

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Blogger Robert Dudek said...

I absolutely loved Bob's 50-50 rule!

BPS, though short lived, is probably at the very top of average quality of shows of all poker podcasts.

10/11/2012 6:47 PM  
Blogger Robert Dudek said...

At the risk of repeating posts...

Bob's 50-50 rule - hilarious.

The first Circuit interview was also the first time I had ever heard a big-time sports-bettor talking about his thought processes.

BPS was the highest quality poker podcast ever.

10/11/2012 6:50 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Haha, yes... the 50-50 rule = big grins. Stuff about a high chair and getting a phone book for FD also a riot.

I listened back... wasn't rolling on the floor laughing like in '06, but still pretty funny. I actually found the discussion of sports betting (something I wasn't into at all back then) a lot more interesting this time, too.

Voulgaris was on an episode of Bill Simmons' B.S. Report a short while ago (with Jay Caspian Kang), if you're interested in more of HV talk about betting on the NBA. Episode was 8/8/12 or thereabouts, if you can find it.

10/11/2012 8:53 PM  

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