I'm not one for watching metaphorical train-wrecks, but tonight's WSOP coverage had some great horrible stuff. Let's start with the usual Hellmuth nonsense. At first it wasn't Phil stirring the pot. It's fine to ask him what kind of doctor his wife is, and fine to laugh when he says that she's a psychiatrist. It got a bit much when the other players started asking if she prescribed his Prozac and stuff like that. Something got said that had Phil's upper lip curling with peevishness, and for a change I agreed with him. I'm still taping the second episode so I can't go back yet to see what it was.
But of course he lost it eventually. First he tells a guy(I believe his name was Joe Pittman, I'll correct if I'm wrong) who just suffered a bad beat that it wasn't a bad beat (which it wasn't, as Phil correctly pointed out, as Pittman started out behind, went ahead, and lost to a runner-runner full house. Tough hand, but no bad beat). Still, Pittman probably didn't want to hear that from Phil or anyone at that moment. The next hand the obviously steaming Pittman raises with KJ, Phil calls with AK, Joe shoves in his stack and Phil calls in a shot. The fact that you know what's gotta be coming puts an exquisite edge to the tension. Pittman rivers a jack, and Hellmuth goes conpletely bonkerino. "This guy can't even spell poker," was his best line, while "this guy" is sitting right next to him. Pittman should've said "P-O-K-E-R". Phil goes on and on and on about what a terrible play it was, how Pittman is a donkey, how he'd never make a play like that, he's a nine-time bracelet winner...thing is Pittman looked pretty pissed and insulted, and also looked like he could fold Phil into thirds and put him on a shelf. But he just sat there and let Phil wander off to put him down to everyone in earshot. Pittman said "What a crybaby," which perhaps he shouldn't have after they way he reacted to his earlier beat, but I'd like to see someone react to one of Hellmuth's rants with some creativity and aplomb.
It was a pretty ugly outburst. No, not ugly--it's pathetic. If it happened once, you could sympathize. Twice, sure, some people handle frustration with a bit less aplomb. But watching Phil melt down over and over no longer makes me feel the warm caress of schadenfreude.
It's pitiful. He actually went off again after Paul Magriel knocked him out, but that may have been residual fury from the hand before. He's a great talent in a field where great talent is often at the mercy of dumb luck. You could see the skill in the way he played tonight--laying down AK to the guy who made aces full was a nice play, which of course he took elaborate credit for. And then there's the way he ran the table, getting players to talk to him, to answer his questions, to show him their cards after a hand. It showed how a table captain can dictate play. But his outbursts have now so totally eclipsed his accomplishments that he's like ESPN's trained monkey. "Let's wait to see if Phil embarrasses himself again!". And he comes through time after time.
I'd think the best way to deal with Hellmuth (or any bullying player) is to just ignore them. Don't talk, don't respond, just go about your business as you see fit. Perhaps in such a hypercompetitive setting it's difficult to dial it back and be passive. Perhaps more poker players should study jujitsu.
The guy with the big hair and wearing the Beckham jersey, who kept screaming at the top of his lungs and got a penalty for language...I think he's the guy who irritated his fellow players in a different, ah, sensory manner. I think. I have to go back and read Pauly's
archives to confirm.
Good lord, some of the people they showed were dressed as though auditioning for a zombie movie. Ghastly.
Adam Schoenfeld should start a blog. Or maybe I should check to see if he does have one.
Andthen in the second episode we had Mike Matusow carpet-bombing the Rio with F-bombs. His tablemates rose to his defense when he was accused of throwing cards at the dealer, and you could see that Mike was really exorcised about it. But then he let go with a sotto voce
expletive and we were off.
The floorman hit Matusow with a 10-minute penalty, and Mike went a wee bit loco, and let go with another, and another, and another, and when he finally corralled his tongue he had a 40-minute recess. It does seem a bit ludicrous that you can't say "fuck" at the poker table, everyone's over 21, but rules are rules, right...
Man, I fucking HATE the expression "rules are rules". The last defense of mindless authority. Fuck it. Fucking fuck it all. Good fucking night.