Running in the Rain and Poker & Drugs

At about 9:00am on Saturday morning the sky grew dark and a cool wind started to blow through. By ten, the skies had opened up to a beautiful torrential rain. We’ve been battling a drought and I was already registered for the Run Good WSOP Seat Challenge, so I was content with nature’s whims. I was content, that is, until exactly 12:43pm, when I lost power. I evoked Katitude, and started cursing falling water.

Unfortunately I had just washed my hair, but I hadn’t dried or straightened it yet - which meant it was channeling Angela Davis. I threw on my hoodie (the one Grubby stole for me), packed up the laptop, and headed out into the rain. I drove until I saw working traffic lights, and then I scoured the strip malls for a coffee shop. With no time to spare, I ordered a $3.69 latte and booted.

I think I only missed a couple of hands by the time I got online. I hit the mother load of tables, one that was great for blogger company, but very bad for my chances. Pauly, Al Can’t Hang, Change, F-Train, and PokerListings’ host Matt Showell surrounded me. I had a couple of decent winning hands, but was having trouble getting an above-average stack. With 12 bloggers left, I woke up with pocket aces and my foe and I got it all in pre-flop. He had pocket jacks and caught his two-outer. I won’t name names, but he knows who he is. And besides, how bad could I feel when Iggy went out next when his pocket aces were cracked by a suited 4-2? The Poker Grump went on to claim the $1500 WSOP seat, and I am left to wait until next week for revenge. In the mean time, I’ll be thinking about drugs and poker.

When I walked into the Amazon Room for the first open event of the 2005 WSOP, the first words I heard were, “This is going to be tough for me today. I’m trying to play without Percocet and Red Bull.” During the 2003 WSOP, I sat at the Starbucks outside the Golden Nugget. It was crowded on the patio and a player asked to share my table. He wasn’t a full time pro, but he had played them all over the years. During our conversation I asked about a well known pro who had behaved erratically the night before. My companion responded, “Oh yeah. It’s been almost a year since he gave up coke and he’s still having a tough time adjusting.”

Drugs and poker are hardly strangers. Stuey Ungar might have been an unfortunate outlier, but within the six sigma of players, there are many that dabble or use. If we had to put an asterisk beside the names of drug using/abusing players, the page might start to look like a decent sized constellation.

In Des Wilson’s Ghosts at the Table, he talks about the 1979 Championship heads up match between Bobby Hoff and Hal Fowler. He quotes Bobby, “Oh yes, I was taking cocaine during that tournament and I probably played as well if not better on cocaine. I would put two lines of coke by the bed every night and take it when I woke up.” And Fowler? Crandall Addington recalls, “I sat right next to Hal and he had his pills out there on the table. Of course a lot of guys used to get up and go sniff and snort in the bathroom in those days, but he had some Valium and also some amphetamines, the real strong ones, and he actually put these on the table by his chips. I really believe that much of the time he didn’t have any clue what he was doing.”

Mike’s book had gotten a lot of nice coverage in 2+2’s Book forum. A number of posters admitted to reading it in the bookstore rather than buying it - but I can’t fault a poker player for freerolling. I had been waiting for a thread to pop up in the News, Views and Gossip forum. I suspected it would be about Mike’s illegal drug use during WSOPs past - or the scene with the porn star. But I was wrong. In this thread, the OP takes exception with Mike’s legal drug use, specifcially his ADHD medication. If he had an issue with Mike snorting meth during the 2001 Championship final table, he didn’t mention it. The OP suggested drug testing at the WSOP and banning players taking prescribed medications like Ritalin and Adderall.

The OP got soundly leveled. But I totally lol’d at this poster’s reply: “I have 2 degen friends who buy ritalin before playing the Thursday night $30 home game. Needless to say it’s hard to have a conversation with them since they are so focused. They are like dogs watching squirrels.”

I’ve heard a number of players talk about trying Ritalin for focus. But for the non-ADHD afflicted, its focusing ability might be a little too hard to control. I remember one player telling me that it did give him focus - but unfortunately he spent over an hour directing his focus to a piece of lint on the table felt.

And that’s before all the lovely side effects. Two points to the first person who knows what side effect Mike is most embarrassed by.

Half the field drinks Red Bull. Bill Edler averages seven cups of coffee during a tournament. Cyndy Violette swears by a macrobiotic diet for focus and energy. Banning prescription drugs like Ritalin would be a pretty random line to draw.

Artwork of Angela Davis by GUANOdesign

One Comment

  1. Posted May 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    DRUGS???? Let’s go back to the 60′S on the drag… Nah let’s not