Part 3 – April 1st, 2017 through July 31st, 2017

Originally posted: April 5th, 2017

The 3 People Sitting At Every Poker Table

No matter where you play – online, live, in an established online poker room or in your best friend’s garage – if you sit at a full table, there are certain types of players you always seem to face off against at some point during a session. You might even know everyone at the table ahead of time and consider them friends, but if you haven’t played poker against them before, there’s a good chance they’ll morph from the pal you know into a poker stereotype that will make you roll your eyes in bemusement or gnash your teeth in frustration!

Try as we might, it’s impossible to escape the three types of player that are found at EVERY poker table…

1) The Insanely Angry Guy

This guy has a hair-trigger temper at the table, and it doesn’t take much to set him off. Outdraw him in a standard spot? He explodes. See through his obvious bluff? Cue total meltdown. Have the nerve to outplay him? Prepare for a profanity-laden tirade, calling into question the legality of your parents’ marriage, your status as a member of the homo sapien species and enough ‘F’ words to shock the crustiest of sailors.

Angry Guy truly hates the world. He’s angry at you. He’s angry at the other players. He’s angry at the software, the dealer and even the waitress. In his heart, he’s angry at himself. You wouldn’t trade places with him for all the stacks in the world, he’s that angry – it can’t be very healthy, now can it?

2) The ‘Gamble-Gamble’ Guy

Some people play poker because they like the challenge of taking on other players and trying to outwit them; others play because they know they’re good at card games and enjoy making a few extra dollars playing their favorite hobby. Others play because they live for the thrill of the gamble, and whether they end up or down isn’t as important as the excitement of getting their chips into the middle and seeing what happens!

Gamble-Gamble Guy isn’t stupid; he can work out when he’s ahead, when he’s behind and can see when a call isn’t the right move for someone who plays ‘by the book’. He doesn’t care about the book though, he knows there’s much more fun to be had throwing caution to the wind and gambling it up. Only has three outs and is getting even money to call? Why not – think of the rush if one of his cards hits!

Better to embrace the risk, go big or go home and have fun than play like a nit and grind out small profits, that’s the motto he lives by.

3) The Wannabe Pro Guy

You definitely know this guy. In a live setting, he rocks up wearing a hoodie, massive headphones and sunglasses – for a $10 Sit & Go with friends. Online, he can’t resist butting in after each hand; a question mark here, a smug smile there, just to let you know that he’s seen your play and judged it – and you’re not up to his high, high standard.

He’s read the books. Or maybe just the one, but it was Super System 2 , so obviously he really REALLY knows his stuff. He thinks he’s the next Isildur1 or Phil Hellmuth, he’s just been unlucky so far, and he can’t believe he has to play with mere mortals like you. Yeah, it’s a tough life, playing your way to the top!

In over a decade of online and live play, I’ve come across dozens, nay hundreds, of players who fall into one of the three stereotypes above. Are there any major player types I’ve missed? Let me know!

Originally posted: April 14th, 2017

Poker in the Past: Eleanore Dumont

Eleanore Dumont, along with our old friends Poker Alice and Lottie Deno, was one of the most famous female card players of her time. Also known as Eleonore Alphonsine Dumont, she lived much of her life under the pseudonym Madame Mustache. This nickname was due to the appearance of a line of dark hair on her upper lip. Other sources claim she was born Simone Jules to Creole parents in New Orleans. Across all iterations of the story, almost nothing is known about her early life until she began working as a dealer at the Bella Union Hotel in 1849, or even as late as 1854. Madame Mustache was an accomplished card dealer and made her living working in casinos playing twenty one and other casino games. Never in one place for long, she was a born wanderer, travelling all across the USA, reportedly working in California, South Dakota, Montana and Nevada to name a few.

She gained a reputation as someone who could deal with the pressures of a hectic card table and could calm unruly customers from their white rage using her trademark charm and wit. She was excellent at her job, so good in fact that it aroused the suspicions of the hotel owners. She was eventually let go from the position after being accused of card sharping but not before amassing a large amount in savings.

During her time working at the Bella Union, Eleanore was a notoriously private lady, something that was unwavering throughout her life, but this didn’t stop her from partaking in mild flirting, if only to keep her all-male clientele on the seat on their pants. Noticing her gift for the game Eleanore decided to open her own casino, ‘Vingt-Et-Un’, which means ’21’ in French! A female dealer would have been an extremely rare sight in this period so men from all around would flock to her parlor just for the privilege. After the initial rush of business, Vingt-Et-Un also introduced other popular card games like ‘Faro’ and ‘Chuck A Luck.’

Faro was the most popular game of the era. Cheating was more common across all games but Faro more than most. In fact, cheating was so common in this game that it lost much popularity and ceased to be played in the years following World War 2. Players would go through such extreme lengths in order to cheat that parlors had to appoint two or even three staff to oversee the games. Firstly the dealer and then the Casekeeper, who would count cards for the players, and thirdly the “look-out” who has hired to throw a watchful eye on the table and make sure nobody was cheating.

After the modest success of her own parlor, Eleanore decided to go into business with Dave Tobin, an experienced local gambler and entrepreneur. The duo opened up Dumont’s Place, a popular spot for cards and casino games until the gold started to dry up in California. Dying were the days of bushy bearded men in long johns slamming shots of whiskey and chucking gold nuggets into the pot. Eleanore packed up and set her sights on Carson City. Upon arrival, Eleanore purchased a homestead and some animals. It was in Carson City that she fell in love with Jack McKnight, a well-dressed and well-tempered man who claimed to be a cattle rancher. Eleanore, knowing farming was not her area of expertise, signed the management of the property over to McKnight. McKnight turned out to be a con man and late one night sold the ranch and slinked out of the town under cover of darkness, leaving Eleanore behind to deal with the debts. One month later, McKnight went missing. Rumors abounded that Dumont had tracked him and ended his life with two quick blasts of her shotgun. Dumont was not prosecuted and served no jail time due to a lack of evidence. Some sources suggest Dumont may have admitted her guilt in the twilight years of her life but realistically, we may never know the entire truth.

After this heartbreak, Eleanore packed her bags and set off, travelling from saloon to saloon gambling and trying to build her fortune back up. Eleanore often relied on her good looks given her preference for male clientele but Father Time spares no one. The once radiant specimen was beginning to show signs of her age and the beauty which had one entranced prospectors in the height of their gold lust was beginning to fade. This was when Eleanore’s famous mustache become more prominent. The hair darkened and thickened on her upper lip. Eleanore, being both mustached and female, was still able to pull a crowd and had a reputation for dealing fair but her fame would not reach the heights it had in her youth. As time wore on, women in mining camps and settlements became less of a novelty. It was now commonplace for working men to move their families out with them in the hopes of striking rich.

Dumont still had decent success as a gambler at this point in her story, but nothing compared to the glory days. Eleanore became the madame of a brothel in the 1860s. Dumont followed the money and roved from through the Montana mining towns and then eventually back to Utah and Virginia City, Nevada.  By way of advertisement, Eleanore would parade her ladies through the streets in broad daylight from the back of the carriage, much to the chagrin of the ‘proper’ ladies in the town.

Since Eleanore was following the trail of gold, she began to see many familiar faces arriving as each new settlement was erected. Eleanore had a strong reputation to uphold. The commonfolk saw her as an attractive, upstanding French lady with a soft, charitable side along to compliment her no-nonsense attitude. Stories of her foiling multiple robbers at once and forcing plague-ridden steamboats to turn back at gunpoint only added to her growing legendary status.

Eleanore’s last stop was Bodie, California. Though years of travelling around the united states had taken her toll on Eleanore, one Bodie reporter said “Madame Moustache, whose real name is Eleanore, has settled for the time in Bodie, following her old avocation of dealing twenty-one, faro, etc., as a force of circumstances seem to demand. Probably no woman on the Coast is better known… She appears as young as ever, and those who knew her ever so many years ago would instantly recognise her now.”

On September 7, 1879 Eleanore borrowed $3000 dollars from a friend to open a table and had lost the entire sum after only a few hours. Dejected, Eleanore wandered out of the saloon and to the outskirts of town, where she committed suicide by drinking a bottle of red wine laced with morphine. Eleanore left a suicide note explaining that she had “grown tired of life.” Her body was discovered early the next morning by passing travelers. The people who first discovered the body claimed she looked at peace in death, her head resting on a rock as if she were sleeping.

Local residents were grieved by her passing and raised enough money to cover her funeral, said to be the largest the town ever held. The exact site of her grave is unknown and likely lost to the sands of time.

One miner lamented “Poor Madame Moustache! Her life was as square a game as was ever dealt. The world played against her with all sorts of combinations, but she generally beat it. The turn was called on her at last for a few paltry hundred; she missed the turn, none of the old boys were there to cover the bet for her, and she passed in her checks, game to the last. Poor Madame Moustache.”

Mike D

Originally posted: April 21st, 2017

4 Strange Rituals of the Poker Elite

Poker players are a superstitious lot.

Every player, from the fishiest fish to the proiest pro has their own ritual. Whether you take measures to ensure no black cats cross your path or fast the night before, it can’t be as weird as these guys!

Sammy Farha

Sammy Farha should be well known to anyone with a penchant for poker, having won multiple WSOP titles and with a whopping net worth of over $100 million. What makes Farha instantly recognizable is the unlit cigarette permanently pursed in his lips. Farha has been a lifelong non-smoker but the ‘lucky’ smoke never leaves his mouth while he’s at the felt. Farha goes on to swear that the magical cigarette gave him the extra pinch of luck he needed to reach the final table of the 2003 WSOP Main Event. Hearing that a high level poker players keeps to superstitions isn’t exactly news to write home about; stick with what got you to the dance. Also as an Irish man, I’m no stranger to a pinch of salt over the shoulder and a dance around the maypole at Lughnasa but get this – if Farha loses a hand, he will immediately switch to another cigarette!

Johnny Chan

Johnny Chan is a Chinese-born American poker player with ten WSOP bracelets to his name. Johnny’s claim to fame, outside of his skills at the felt, is the orange that sits near his stack at the table. The strange ritual first started in the days before the smoking ban, Chan would lift the orange up to his nose when the cigarette smoke got too thick in the air and inhale deeply to clear his sinuses, but in 1998 when Chan won the WSOP main event, the orange became a symbol of good luck and now has a permanent role in his poker ritual.

Doyle Brunson

The most famous of the players in this list, Hall of Famer Doyle Brunson is an old school poker legend. Doyle has always claimed not to be a superstitious man, that was until he started speaking to his card protector Casper. The small ornament is decorated with said friendly ghost, Brunson first started conversing with this poker poltergeist as a joke, requesting luck and good tidings. Strangely, it seemed as though Casper was fulfilling his every request! Other players began to notice Brunson whispering to the ghost and wanted in on the magic. Brunson, ever the shrewd businessman, saw the opportunity and put his phantom friend up for rent. Players could rent the card protector for 30 minutes for the paltry sum of $500! Casper still sits with Brunson at the tables but has been sold to fellow poker pro Howard Lederer for $3,500. The caveat is that Brunson keeps the charm in his possession until such a time as his passing, and then it will be passed on to Howard in the will.

Pius Heinz

Now for our final entry we have a superstition not unique to poker. You know sometimes when you’re watching football (American, not soccer!)  and you see a player wearing the same mud-caked uniform, frayed bits of material poking out from the seams like a backcombed cat, time and time again? Well when you win a game in a big way early in the season, why change a winning formula? Even if there’s only one strand of cotton imbued with magic luck, that’s one more bit of luck than none. Well WSOP Main Event winner Pius Heinz took this the the Nth degree, wearing the same white hoodie for the entirety of the 2011 Main Event. By the time Pius reached the final table, half the room behind him could be seen clad in the same ivory finery to support their man!

So that’s all of our crazy superstitions for today. Is your favorite ritual missing from this post? Let us know your barmiest traditions in the comments!

Mike D