Monday, November 16, 2009

The Green-Eyed Monster

EnvyNoticed over the weekend that a new thread had popped up on Two Plus Two begun by the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event champion, Joe Cada. Cada’s post begins “Lets first by saying if anyone thinks I'm denying I got lucky at the final table then im not.”

The rest of Cada’s message is a bit difficult to parse, but he appears to be both acknowledging his having been the beneficiary of some good cards on his way to winning the Main Event while defending himself as a skillful player who made some good decisions, too.

“Did I run like god at the final table 100 percent correct,” he admits. Then, referring to that big hand versus Antoine Saout (Hand No. 272), Cada writes “Now 22 when your playing 3handed opening basically every pot and the person to the left of you is really aggr and has 3bet a lot and you have 40 bb with tons of fold equity noting 1hand he thought up to 5min getting it in preflop to a button 4bet after he 3bet with ak in bb is not bad.”

Like I said, a bit difficult to parse. More than a bit, actually. “Some may not understand this but oh well,” adds Cada. Not sure if he’s referring to the play or the way he’s described it.

The post generated many responses, with some congratulating Cada for his win while others took it as bait to issue further challenges regarding Cada’s poker playing ability. The responses are somewhat interesting, I guess, but more intriguing to me is the fact that Cada felt the need to defend himself at all. His post obviously responds to other threads and reactions to last week’s final table, particularly those that characterized Cada and his opponent Darvin Moon as somehow undeserving of having landed the top two spots in poker’s biggest tourney.

Casino City Gang podcastThe thread made me think of something I’d heard on the Casino City Gang podcast late last week. Have been enjoying that weekly show -- hosted by Vin Narayanan, Gary Trask, and Dan Igo -- quite a bit. In this most recent episode (the 11/12/09) episode, the trio shared reactions to the November Nine. Toward the end of the discussion, Trask noted how disappointing it was that so few of the top pros -- many of whom had been there on Saturday -- did not come back to the Penn & Teller Theater on Monday night for the heads-up portion.

That led to some speculation about why so few were there for the finale, with Narayanan suggesting that some of “these pro players are stung by the fact that they are not winning the Main Event,” and that until one of them does, it will continue to be “a big sore point among the top professional players.”

Narayanan then talks a bit about Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, who had been there to see Phil Ivey bust on Saturday, but did not come back on Monday. Matusow did send some tweets on Monday, however, showing that he was following the action. Narayanan notes how Matusow “was just killing” Cada and Moon on Twitter, “talking about how the two biggest luckboxes of the tournament were sitting there playing for [the championship] and that poker was not a game of skill anymore.”

Indeed, over @TheMouthMatusow the pro starts by saying “I can't go see the two worst players of the final 9 play for pokers biggest prize its too embarrassing,” then adds “These 2 hu os a new low point for poker as any kind of skilled game so om staying home gl to both.” He goes on to call Cada “a stone idiot” who has “no clue how to play poker,” before finally signing off with less-than-sincere sounding congratulations and a final message that “this is a lesson on bow not to play hu poker.”

Kind of an interesting phenomenon, the way that this year’s final table generated this sort of response. Of course, it happens just about every year -- doesn’t it? Not sure what I think of the whole “pros are jealous because they aren’t winning” argument, but I think we’re all pretty familiar with how one poker player’s success at the tables tends to elicit others’ envy. One could argue there is something in human nature that makes us that way. As Jonathan Swift once wrote in his elegy to himself “Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift” (1731), “What poet would not grieve to see / His brethren write as well as he? / But rather than they should excel, / He’d wish his rivals all in hell.”

Speaking of good writers, I just finished Vicky Coren’s For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker this weekend, and it is absolutely terrific. Very smart, witty, even “literary.” I plan to say more about the book here eventually, but I will share one passage she includes about poker players and “schadenfreude” -- that weird, German-derived word that refers to our tendency to derive pleasure from others’ misfortune.

“Poker players are the bitterest, most resentful, most grudging, most jealous humans on the planet,” writes Coren. “They enjoy nothing more than schadenfreude. They hate nothing worse than someone else’s success. They are happiest when describing a huge pot lost by a regular opponent. They don’t care who won it.... That delights them.”

“God, I love them,” Coren adds, a kind of winking punchline to the discussion.

And really, you have to. ’Cos that’s how people -- especially poker players -- are, for the most part. So all you winners out there, don’t expect everyone else to rejoice in yr triumphs.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Reading Cada's post, which originally appeared on the blog, he also brought up the "ESPN edits the hands" excuse. Also, blogging at 4am usually doesn't bring out the best results (like the posts in the thread suggesting he go back to school).

The pros won't be happy until one of their own wins the Main Event, and Ivey was their best hope this year.

Matusow apparently had $80,000 riding on Cada winning, which can explain some of his Tweets regarding Cada.

11/16/2009 12:34 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, Kevmath. I should add also I don't mean to imply here that Matusow is "jealous" or doesn't have a reasonable basis for his criticism of the FT play. Thought his comments worth sharing, though, as they were brought up by the Casino City guys.

11/16/2009 12:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I agree Shamus, but Matusow has those types of opinions on just about everyone in poker. Because Mike knows poker, as the commercials for DeepStacks U that aired during the 2009 WSOP streaming would announce, repeatedly.

11/16/2009 1:21 PM  

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