Positive Experiences With Pros Influenced Me To Continue With Poker
Gillian Epp wrote an editorial piece the other day over on Ivey Poker that urged today's poker pro to be more social friendly. If you haven't already read it, click here to read her thoughts. Her piece, and the recent announcement that Harrah's Tunica was closing, had me thinking about my first time playing live poker down in Tunica, MS.
The very first circuit event that I played, I was seated with two well-known players on the live poke circuit. The first was Al Barbieri and the other was Chris "The Armenian Express" Gregorian. You may have seen Chris on ESPN TV with the "Anyone can Win" hat.
My first ever live poker tournament was a Seven Card Stud tournament with both those players at my table. Both had their own style at the table and their own way with associating with players. Chris was much more friendly while Al pretty much played his game. However, Al didn't have any type of attitude and would talk, he just didn't know this group of "random guys."
Well, my dad ended rather quickly thanks in part to Al being rolled up with aces and filling up against my straight. I left, pretty much thinking that was the last I would see of them.
The next day, I ran across Chris in the gift shop and he actually approaches me and starts chatting. By this point, I know exactly who he is etc and thought it was pretty cool we were sitting there "shooting the s**t" so to speak. From there, Chris and I remained friendly through the events at the Circuit stop and I was beginning to feel a bit like maybe I belonged.
That changed for me in a big way a couple of days later after first meeting Mickey "Mouse" Mills in a NL event. Mickey was somewhat impressed with a couple laydowns I made in spots where many folks would have went bust and we started chatting.
A day later, we wound up playing in a sit and go and I tell Mickey that the Circuit was my first live event. He then proceeds to tell me a lot about the poker scene out what, what to look out for, pitfalls to avoid, etc.
The conversation continues after the satellite and we wind up talking for close to two hours. The next day, Mickey introduces me to Bill Boston. Bill wrote a well-known Omaha Hi-Lo stats book and at the time I thought "this is cool. I know a poker writer."
Little did I know that the chance meeting would change my poker career. A day later, Bill and I are playing together in the Stud 8 or Better event. I was struggling a bit during the game and busted early. Bill at one point asks if I want to meet after and talk strategy.
Naturally I agreed and after he busted the event (five hours later) he catches up to me. I probably shouldn't admit this, but when he caught up to me I was on my way for a date with someone I met down there. I ended up standing her up to talk poker.
For the next couple of hours, Bill pretty much schools me in everything Hi-Lo and flat out offers to mentor me in the games. I was beyond shocked, but I wasn't about to say no. We exchanged contact info and for the next couple of years, Bill helped me immensely in my poker game.
As far as Mickey, I saw Mickey a lot over the next three years as I decided to try out the live scene in Los Angeles. He helped acclimate me to the scene, introduced me to certain folks, and in a couple of cases helped me find accommodations.
Both Mickey and Bill helped to educate me about the realities of the game, both good and bad. Their reality check helped me make a lot of important decision at the table and away.
When I went to Tunica, I only went because I was decent at a couple of games and wanted to try my luck in a live setting as opposed to online. I had no intentions of making it a career in any fashion.
I can honestly say that the pros who reached out to me and the two that took me under their wing so to speak were the main reason that I played the game semi-professionally for a couple of years and then transitioned into writing.
As poker players, we don't have to be as outgoing as some of the guys that I have been associated with. Gillian accurately points out that many amateurs are playing just to have fun. They don't really care about the money. A positive experience will keep them coming back, just the same way as my positive experience in Tunica still has me associated with the game eight years later.