He Then Went Home to the Loving Arms of Tom Brady

Monday, August 21st, 2006

It’s sad to see Bill Simons cop the snobby “I liked poker before poker went mainstream” attitude after losing his $10,000 buy-in at the WSOP in all of two hours.

After a bad beat, Simmons now believes the game’s popularity has sapped it of its skill. He played his hand “perfectly,” he whines, and because he lost, he’s now convinced that the new poker, with all these youngsters and Internet hooligans, is nothing but luck.

Maybe. But I’m not sure Simmons’ experience in the WSOP bears that out. He had two pair after the flop — the top two pair, granted, with a K-10. That’s a good hand. And no one could blame him for going all-in. But it ain’t the nuts. And it certainly doesn’t prove that the game is nothing but luck. I certainly wouldn’t have played the hand the way Simmons did. I’d have made a big bet. And I’d certainly have called if my opponent had gone all-in. But unless I’m short-stacked, I’d never go all-in pre-turn with only two pair.

The truth is, Simmons lost the hand well before the flop. Right about here, in fact:

Meanwhile, a wild Internet qualifier was calling everybody, trash-talking, even showing his bluffs after he won. He reminded me of a football QB who keeps throwing deep; eventually, you switch to zone and start to pick off his passes. Basically, he was Jeff George.

And I wanted to pick him off.

Get it? This kid burrowed under Simmons’ skin. Got into his head. So Simmons tilted, decided knocking this guy was top priority, and went all-in the first time he got the kid to a face-off . It’s worth noting, too, that Simmons went all-in. It’s not as if he correctly called a bad bet.

The kid got lucky, yeah. But he also had a more-than-respectable hand — high pair with an ace kicker. Simmons wins that hand eight out of ten times. But that he lost it this time doesn’t prove the game is luck. Eighty percent isn’t a hundred percent. It isn’t even ninety. All Simmons’ bad beat proves that he if he valued staying in the tournament more than he valued teaching the young pup a lesson, he’d have played his stack with a little more caution.

I once went all-in with a nut flush, only to find a straight flush looking back at me. That was a bad beat. Of course, I lost about thirty bucks, not ten grand.

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