Sitting in the stands, watching the final two tables of Word Series of Poker Omaha 8 Limit tournament, I get into a conversation with a pro who famously had a top-30 finish in the 2008 WSOP. I don’t recognize him, but then again I don't recognize a lot of players. Followed by the ESPN cameras that year in his Lakers jersey as he made his improbable bid for glory, this near champ also had a top 20 place finish in the 2013 Million Maker. Despite these accomplishments, he could really use a stake for the $1,500 WSOP hold’ em tournament tomorrow.
Coincidentally, there is an older fellow at the table who is developing a gaming app and needs a social media team to promote the product. Since I am an Internet writer, I must fit the bill. We are all soon chatting away, with app guy and the near-champ getting into a heated discussion––they concur Helmuth and Negreanu are luckboxes who simply play in a lot of tournaments to earn their bracelets. I’ve heard this sort of argument on the rail before. Which doesn’t quite explain how––less than one-third of the way through the series––Negreanu has already achieved a second place finish in the $10,000 2-7 draw lowball and Helmuth is closing in on a final table in the $3,000 six handed NLHE, which attracted a field of more than 800.
The conversation eventually snakes its way around to what, for our near champ, is its real purpose: putting out feelers for backing. The app guy has backed a few horses but tells the near-champ that he refuses to back no limit hold’em players, considering it a game of complete luck. Despite this, he calls it an honor to have been asked if he would consider such an arrangement. I investigate the roots of the app guy’s flippant antipathy to hold’em with a couple well-timed questions. Turns out he has never made a final table in any of the 60-runner, $500 tourneys he has played––so obviously NLHE is a game of luck. Given this hard grained sentiment, I could have have told our former near-champ 20 minutes ago that he was barking up the wrong tree. Our player will have to look elsewhere for his stake, that’s the gambling life.