Thursday, March 07, 2013

Stirring the High-Stakes MTT Pot

A couple of nights ago I was up late following PokerStars’ Super Tuesday, the weekly $1,050 no-limit hold’em tournament that tends to attract a lot of top players and familiar names in the world of online poker.

The tourney has grown remarkably over the last several months, breaking records as far as field sizes go. A week ago 614 played (making for a $614K prize pool), establishing a new all-time high and thus more than doubling the event’s $300K guarantee. This week the field was 580, which as usual pushed the scheduled first-prize up over six figures. (A two-way chop in the end meant the final two made about $95K each.)

I found myself diverted a little late in the evening around the time the money bubble burst, and thought I would share the reason why. I noticed with 72 players left that the leader was a player from Portugal going by the strange-looking username “T 54 T 97s.” A search of the name soon led me to a thread in the High Stakes MTT forum over on Two Plus Two begun last month titled “War challenge!” And for the next little while I was fairly entertained to read what I found.

The player -- real name Tomás Paiva -- started the thread with a kind of manifesto-looking, pot-stirring screed in which he addresses the high-stakes MTT community as mostly comprised of “so many retarded regs,” “sad nerds,” and “nits.”

Having established his insensitive self thusly, he goes on to quote Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, cut-and-paste an old New Zealand war cry (the “haka”), then add a second post in which he listing around 250 MTTers by their usernames as his “black list” of players whom he particularly wishes to “destroy.”

The list included tags clarifying whether a given player is a “****ing nit,” a “top idiot,” or an “elite idiot.” Among those listed appear many who regularly play the Super Tuesday, including some who have won it in the past.

Unsurprisingly, the “war challenge” earned a lot of response.

Some were critical or less than amused (“u mad bro?”). Some championed Paiva’s hubris (“OP confirmed awesome”). Meanwhile others variously played along with Paiva’s attempt at fashioning a kind of new, provoking poker personality (“nerd version of Tony G?”).

Some of the funniest responses came from players not appearing on T 54 T 97s’s “black list,” but who were humorously complaining that they should be, such as from Adam “Squee451” Sherman (“respectfully ask to be added to black list [heart]”) or David “Bakes” Baker (“damn where am i at”).

I also enjoyed Sam “TheSquid” Grafton making a similar complaint and plea to be added to the list. I was just following Grafton at EPT Deauville where he made a relatively deep run in the Main Event to finish 24th, during which I had several opportunities to witness him demonstrating his sense of humor.

“Incred thread. Really brightened up my day!!” began Grafton. “T54 you continually berate me in chat and yet haven’t made your list! I know a small time grinder like me appears as little more than a microbe from your god-like vantage point, but SURELY you can find room for me on your list. Did all those insults really mean nothing to you??? They seemed so heartfelt at the time....”

Paiva quickly responded by adding Grafton to the list, with “TheSquid” voicing his appreciation soon thereafter.

The contribution of Thayer “THAY3R” Rasmussen (also not on the list) probably had me laughing the loudest, though:

“First they came for the nits, and I did not speak out because I was not a nit,” said Rasmussen.

Eric “sheetsworld” Haber also chimed in to say “OP is my hero” and speak wistfully about how Paiva’s post reminded him of the relative lack of personality in online poker these days.

“Back in 2005-9 whatever there was so much trash talking and insulting of other players,” writes Haber. “People got chat taken away on a regular basis and there were challenges and personal attacks 24/7. I miss that.... I don't know whether it was black friday or this new regime of regs who keep quiet but online poker should have more guys like this.”

Paiva went on to final table the Super Tuesday, finishing eighth, with a number of railbirds (all obvioulsy aware of the 2+2 thread) chatting frequently until the final table at which point observer chat is no longer allowed. Paiva himself did take to the chatbox occasionally along the way, sometimes typing “(flex)” after winning a hand, or congratulating another player at the final table once for having “heart” (again, recalling Tony G) when he cracked the eventual ninth-place finisher’s pocket aces with T-8-suited.

The thread continues, revived a bit thanks to T 54 T 97s’s deep Super Tuesday run this week, some other tourney scores, and Paiva’s frequent returns to the thread to add still more taunts as well as further names to his list.

Like I say, I found it all kind of diverting. And while I’m not necessarily pining for the trash-talking and personal attacks like Haber, I get what he’s saying about how online poker can sometimes appear to be overpopulated by characterless button-pushers.

But there are some characters out there, including those who aren’t as obviously making an effort to create and shape their online personae into something worth following.

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