Never Judge a Book by its Cover

In this day and age, poker players at all levels have access to endless amounts of information on how to play the game. Practically all the major books and poker gurus stress that it’s very important to study your opponents and to work out what sort of category they fit into. This is indeed very good advice, but it’s normally a good idea to go a little bit further. You may place a player in a particular category and later discover that while you were right at the time, this was only because circumstances dictated that a guy deviate from his normal game. Tilt is one example, or having a bankroll too big or too small. To illustrate this point, I’d like to tell you a story involving the legendary Mike Sexton.

 

Before Mike experienced a change in fortune a couple of years ago, he was a frequent and very popular visitor to the Aviation Club in Paris. Mike’s the only guy in the history of the Aviation’s restaurant to have a personal bottle of ketchup kept for him by the restaurant manager from trip to trip. He holds the interesting record of having eaten steak and chips on 53 consecutive visits. Mike has quite a tasty tournament record in Paris, including a memorable victory over local favorite Claude Cohen in winning the European Championship. Mike also frequently played the Aviation’s cash games, at which he was less than successful. This surprised him, as he played a very tight and steady game, which should have been a winning formula against the French players back then. At that time, if you were to ask any of the French players to put Mike into a category, tight was exactly how they’d rate him — too tight, maybe. Imagine how surprised they’d have been if they knew the bluffer hidden just beneath the surface.

 

Mike lost his case money one afternoon in the Aviation Club and was so shocked by the beat he’d just taken that he left the club before realizing that he didn’t even have the price of a metro ticket in his pocket. He was so fed up that he decided to take on the long walk to where he was staying rather than having to face going back into the club to borrow some money for the trip. The inevitable happened, and when Mike was halfway home, the skies opened. Mike decided to take cover from the downpour and stepped inside the door of the nearest hotel, which just happened to be The Crillon, one of the classiest and most expensive hotels in Europe, and a little beyond Mike’s budget at the time. When you approach The Crillon, two doormen open the door for you, a sure sign that you can’t afford it, but very nice, nonetheless. As Mike stood in the foyer, he was approached by the manager, who asked if he could help. Mike took a look back out the door, saw that the rain was still bucketing down, and decided to make a big play. He told the manager that he was an American businessman who visited Paris five or six times a year and was staying with one of the hotel’s competitors, but that The Crillon had been recommended to him by a colleague, so he had come along to check it out, with a view to upgrading his accommodation on future visits. The manager was absolutely delighted and proceeded to personally show Mike around. After showing Mike the lounges and the dining rooms, he took Mike upstairs and showed him one of the bedrooms. As it was still raining, Mike decided to play for more time and said that although he was quite impressed with the room, he was really looking for something a little larger. The manager got very excited and took him to see the best suite in the hotel. It was called the Leonard Bernstein Suite and cost a mere $4,800 per night. Mike carried out an inspection of the suite and, as soon as he noticed the rain easing off a little, told the manager that he was very impressed with what he had seen and was looking forward to staying there on his next visit to Paris. Obviously, the tight game that Mike had chosen to play in the Aviation Club wasn’t the game at which he was best.

 

Free is Too Cheap

I like Jeff Shulman. I really like him, and it’s got nothing to do with his daddy owning this pkv games magazine, because his daddy doesn’t pay me enough to like anybody. Jeff would be a much more famous guy than he is (and we’d think Jesus was still just a God guy) had he not lost with a pair of sevens against Chris Ferguson’s pair of sixes for half the chips in play during the 2000 World Series of Poker. I’d like to think that I’d have taken this setback as well as Jeff has, but there’s no way I nor most others would have. Jeff is absolutely amazing for an American poker player, because he’s got a good sense of humor and is great fun to play with. But everybody has an off day, and Jeff certainly had one recently when he wrote an editorial in the American offshoot of Card Player Europe.

 

Ten years ago, Mike Sexton told anybody who’d listen in the bar of the Metropol Hotel in London that one day we would all be playing on TV for free. The English thought he was mad, and the Irish thought it was just the drink. Everybody else thought it was both. Imagine our surprise when the Professional Poker Tour commenced this year and 200 poker players were invited to play in five $500,000 events in a place known to us as America, and to Americans as the world, for free. Wow. Everybody was absolutely delighted, except for Jeff, seemingly. Jeff, by his own admission, played badly at the recent PPT event in L.A. and was struggling to find an excuse for his performance. He found one. He blamed his lack of concentration on the fact that he hadn’t had to part with any money to play in the event, and came up with the wonderful suggestion that we all pay an added entry fee to the free tournaments for his convenience. I rest my case.