Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Sick In The Head (1)

The title refers to one of my favourite pieces of online chat, received by the Camel after his opponent made a mystifying all-in call on the flop only to go runner-runner ftw. It seems like a good fit for the post(s) I'm going to make though.

Here's an interesting thread on 2+2 : Negreanu bashes Hellmuth on radio. Negreanu, apparently [1], lays into Hellmuth for "not being good enough to play with" Ivey, Antonius, Durrr etc. Now, anyone who's seen the excellent current series of HSP [2] will spot an immediate degree of irony. My initial psychological read was that this was a clear case of projection, and I was going to leave it at that.

Obviously though, being 2+2 and in particlar NVG, words were said and someone made an offhand comment about how they didn't think DN could beat 10-20 online. Up popped the man himself to immediately throw down a challenge, oh I bet I could beat it, let's play this many hands for this amount of bet.

Also as usual, there followed a lot of back and forth about what the terms should be. I don't think DN came out of that very well with his insistence on 1-tabling, I basically agree with this post FWIW, but that's not really the point I'm focussing on here. The real point is that Phil Hellmuth is a sick man, and not the good kind of sick. Here is a man who is totally running on ego. Totally. It's not so much that he thinks he's better than he is ; it's that he can't take the slightest (even implied) criticism without feeling obliged to attack his "enemy", start reeling off all his achievements, etc. etc. His uncontrollable ego is the source of all the self-aggrandising comments he makes.

These are the comments that Negreanu is "bashing" him for, but the great irony is that as soon as DN feels under threat he reacts in almost exactly the same way, and the cause of this reaction is the very same as the cause of Hellmuth's. E. G. O. I don't mean to single these two guys out but the thread in question, with DN's own comments, is a fantastic example of how this all works. You watch any of these TV programmes and they'll be rife with this kind of thing, riddled with it, and particularly among the American "live elite" who are so rattled by Durrr basically coming in and owning them out of nowhere. And by no means is this restricted to the top players ; it was very noticeable in Dublin in particular how many players of all abilities were so wrapped up in their egos.

I still have a way to go myself (and anyway, saying "I'm the best at having no ego" would be more super-lol than anything above) [3], but seeing the problem is the first step, and it's a very big step.

[1] I know I should listen to the actual interview. But I can't be arsed.

[2] Up until this week's where the new line-up really sucks.

[3] IIRC Matusow said something like this once although my memory could be playing tricks there.

Update : I'm sure some of you have spotted the inconsistency of me saying I was coming off 2+2 and then referencing 2+2 threads in the next two posts ! Well, I thought I could stay on it without getting involved in discussions in the sort of "proving I'm right" style. But in fact I couldn't, so this time I am going to drop off it for a week or two at least. Probably :-)

Durr might be good, but:

1. His ego is just as big as DN and PH and the rest of them. Hence his bets with Bad Beat on the Premier League.

2. He isn't bombproof. His play almost throughout the Premier league was mediocre at best.

99.9% of poker players think they are better than they actually are.

It's an ego driven game. With no egos there would be very few games.
Love the fact that the title reads "Sick in the head (1)". Hope this meands that there will be a "sick in the head (2)" and why stop there? Surely in the world of poker there should be enough material to make this a daily coloumn?

Aim for "Sick in the head (three digits)".
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