Okay, this one has been on my mind for a few days, so I guess I’ll go ahead and spill it here. I have a buddy who is a great player, I mean great. I’ve never seen a time where he couldn’t take down a table any time he’s chosen to. In Colorado when the biggest games allowed were $5/5 limit games, I’ve seen him make $700 profit in less than 4 hours – at a $5/5 fixed game! This guy can read players like nobodys business and as I’ve told him many, many times, he could easily turn pro if he wanted to. Now, I don’t say things like that very often, in fact I’ve never suggested that to anyone else. He has BS detectors like nobody I’ve ever seen and most of what makes him great is his gut. I don’t care how well a guy plays his hand, my buddy always seems to know where he’s at. He’s just sick. But, there is a problem.
The problem is that this guy is a losing player overall. The best player I’ve ever known is a losing player, while my ‘better than average’ game has made me profitable since 2004. My buddies problem is that about 75% of the time he plays online, he’s plowed. Some sort of Polish Brandy is his drink, and (no pun intended) it makes him play like an idiot.
While some of us actually play better with a couple drinks in us (removing fear, adding heart), most people play worse when they’re drinked. So here’s what happened a few nights ago.
While I was working, I was watching him play online. We were talking on Skype and he was at the point of slurring his words. In a 180 player tournament where the top 18 were getting paid, they were down to 21 players. My drunken friend was having fun and had a big stack with only one bigger stack at his table (and I think 3rd overall). Within a period of about 3-4 hands, he was broke and busted in 21st place.
It wasn’t a couple of coolers that knocked him out, he wasn’t put to the test against a big hand…he just gave his chips away with something like bottom pair because he “didn’t believe the guy”. WTF man? You gave away all your chips 3 spots before the money because “you didn’t believe him”?
So after watching this for the umpteenth time in the last 5-6 years I finally said it. “Dude, you have to quit drinking while you play poker.” I told him he was wasting his talent and that I was ashamed to see him throwing away his money and his potential. I told him he was like a pro athlete who throws his career away for drugs, gun charges, or because of some other stupid decision. I reminded him that a few years ago he was telling me how Ricky Williams was an idiot for quitting football in favor of weed. I blasted the poor guy, and nothing about what I said was calculated. It was an off the cuff, frustrated berating. When I was done he told me that he works hard every day, puts up with his wife telling him he’s not making enough money with his business, and that he needs the down time. (Excuse). Then he told me that when he gets drunk and plays poker he gets to escape all the bullshit of real-life and just have fun. (Excuse). He told me it was his money and he could do what he wanted with it. (Really weak excuse).
I told him that was all bullshit, and reminded him that the day after he throws away his money playing drunken poker, he always tells me he’s an idiot for doing it. I also told him that he’s 42 years old and it was time to grow up. I didn’t tell him to stop drinking and I didn’t tell him to stop playing poker. I told him to stop doing them at the same time. At some point don’t we have to grow up and be real with ourselves? And as his best friend, isn’t it my responsibility to be the one to tell him this? Isn’t that one of the reasons for having friends, to help each other when things are going in the wrong direction?
At the same time I felt like a turd after saying all this to him. After all, he’s a 42 year old man…who am I to tell him what to do? Is it really my responsibility, or should I let him continue to do this?
After thinking about it for the last few days, I think I’ve finally come to my final answer. I think I was right to say what I said. We all need to get smacked around sometimes, and who better to do it then someone that cares about you? If a stranger were to say that to him, why would he bother to pay attention? If a stranger said something like that to me I’d more likely break his nose than give him any respect. But it makes a better impact when it comes from someone who cares. I think it’s too passive to watch your friends ruin themselves and that is part of what makes good friends good friends.
I talked with him yesterday and he told me he was ready to commit to building a bankroll and start winning. He’s a tournament player for the most part, and for some reason he’s never played at Pokerstars. In fact, he’s played almost all of his poker at the same two rooms for years now. A lot of these players know about his drinking, and how he plays sober and how he plays drunk. I told him I would bankroll him and that there was a new Pokerstars bonus of $600 he could get playing there to help him build his bankroll. So, our deal is this….if he wants to play drunk, he does it with his money at the other rooms. If he wants to win, he plays at Pokerstars where people don’t know him…and he isn’t allowed to drink. While it might seem like I’m loading him up to lose, the one thing I can say is that no matter how drunk he gets, he’s always honorable. I know the money is safe and he wont play with it if he’s drinking. So, I guess we’ll see what happens.
Anyone else had to have this conversation with a friend? If so, how did it go after that?