I played a turbo last night. It was the point in the tournament where the starting pot was starting to be significant. The hand was raise-call preflop, and then smallish bet-call on the flop and then it checked the turn. The leader pre shoved into a KK389 board with JJ and was called by KT.
King Ten scooped the pot, and then it started.
King Ten: Nice one.
King Ten: Thank you.
King Ten: Bad bluff.
King Ten: Donkey.
Now, I am getting better at staying out of these things, but here I could not help myself. I mean, OK, you played the hand well. You got maximum value. Don't act like you're Doyle Brunson.
Julius Goat: Classy.
Julius Goat: You run laps around wheelchairs, too?
There was nothing for another hand, and then:
King Ten: Poker.
King Ten: Classy.
King Ten: Don't really see the connection.
Julius_Goat: OK, gotcha. Enjoy your personality.
After that he got positively florid, and informed me that he was going to "slow play [me] out of the game." That's fine, I don't mind getting jawed at, especially since it was me who stuck my oar in to begin with. The great thing is that he tightened way up and basically slow-played himself out of the game. I went on to cash for like $4.60, so we know who the real winner is, don't we?
Anyway, I couldn't help myself. I understand that poker is a game of edges, and sometimes you want a psychological edge. For example, on PokerStars I have seen a George W. Bush icon (or a Barack Obama) unhinge people. It's insta-tilt for some. A player called "WifeBeat" once tilted half his table in the first minute without saying a word. So, tilting a weaker player through chat works, and can be a valid part of the game.
But what of this suggestion that poker and good sportsmanship are mutually exclusive? Why do people actually think that's true? Further, why would they WANT that to be true? You can't win without acting like you're Phil Hellmuth when you back into trips and manage to extract value?
It makes me want to punch a penguin.
And that's the point, isn't it? Mr. King-Ten wouldn't think of trying out this so-called "mandatory" classless behavior if he was within choking reach of his victim. But on ipoker sites (and even e-poker sites) all across the World Wide Web of the Internets, people think nothing of the rudest comments. King Ten was safe from punching, so King Ten decided to show us his insecurities and needle a guy with no chips. And why not? It's just part of the game, right?
Poker is a game of choices. Poker is also like life. Poker also tastes like chicken. Poker also is a metaphor for society. Poker is . . . I'm sorry, I got lost in the cliche for a second. What was I saying?
Oh yes. Poker. Choices.
Like the choice to fold your Ace Ten offsuit to five all-ins ahead of you.
Or, believe it or not, the choice to conduct yourself with politeness and good sportsmanship. You do have a choice.
I'm not a saint. I've had my share of outbursts when I've just lost a gut-punch of a hand. But I know I had a choice to react otherwise. And I don't think I've ever rubbed it in on some poor shmuck who just got bounced to the curb.
Wait. I was supposed to have one of those?
Be excellent to each other.