Protecting Your Assets

Note: I wrote this article for PokerPages in 2005. It started from a pitch I made to Capital Sports and Entertainment (the company that represents Lance Armstrong). I wanted to see if they would start a business unit dedicated to representing professional poker players. As part of my pitch, I wrote three commercials: Phil Hellmuth for Preparation H, Phil Ivey for Nike, and the Feduniak’s for Ensure. They eventually passed on the idea, but this article was born.

No. This is not an article about managing your bankroll or defending your home game against marauding bandits. Although after you read it, you may wish it was.

Something happened to me last week that made me think about Bobby Ojeda. Ojeda was a pitcher for the New York Mets and missed the last three weeks of the 1988 season, jeopardizing his career, when he severed his middle finger while trimming his hedges. I mean, he was a major league pitcher. Maybe he could have hired a gardener?

Most athletes know the importance of safeguarding their physical assets. In the movie Bull Durham, that theme is echoed in the advice veteran catcher, Crash Davis, offers rookie Nuke Laloosh, “When you get in a fight with a drunk, you don’t hit ’em with your pitching hand.”

I grant you that poker players don’t need much of a fastball. And a vertical leap doesn’t necessarily come into play. I used to think if poker players had the mental stamina to play a ten-hour session, they were good to go. But I was sorely mistaken.

A Painful Realization:
I spend a lot of time in front of the computer, writing and playing poker. To get some exercise and gain a little perspective, I take a two-mile walk every day. Last week I was accosted by a neighborhood dog, whose run extended past the sidewalk. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t bite me right on the ass. He didn’t break the skin, which I verified by pulling down my pants for all the neighbors to see. But he left a pretty good-sized bruise. I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my lack of butt. However, in this instance, it served me well. If I were J Lo, they’d still be trying to pry that dog from my seat.

For the next few days, playing poker was a brutally painful experience. And it dawned on me. While we often talk about protecting your hand in poker, there really should be more emphasis placed on protecting your butt. Your butt is a crucial poker ass-et (or in my case, ass-ette). We literally play by the seat of our pants; our very livelihood depends on it. While most athletes complain about bench time, we live there.

Preparation H Commercial: Take One:
Reflecting on my newfound appreciation of the hind region, I think the hemorrhoid cream company, Preparation H, is missing out on the marketing campaign of a lifetime. Poker players have to be the sweet spot in their target market. And what better “pain in the ass” spokesman could you find than Phil Hellmuth?

You see Phil Hellmuth checking into a hotel. The desk clerk says, “Good luck in the tournament this week, Mr. Hellmuth.”

You see Phil enter his room and unpack his toiletry kit in the bathroom. He pulls out a tube of Preparation H.

The next scene shows Phil playing heads-up in the tournament. Phil looks confident, while his opponent squirms uncomfortably in his chair.

In his post victory interview, the interviewer asks, “Phil, you have 9 World Series of Poker bracelets and won today’s tournament. What would you say is the most important element of your game? What gives you the edge?”

Phil looks into the camera with a twinkle in his eye and says, “I’d have to say it is preparation.”

More Now than Ever:
Maintaining a sharp mental focus is critical in poker. But the butt factor is gaining in importance. The expanding fields in tournament poker mean that players are doing more seat time. A player that makes the final table at this year’s WSOP Championship event may have to do more than a hundred hours on their derrières. Lower buy-in events are routinely running twenty hours. And that is nothing compared to the time online players grind out on their backsides, each and every week.

So when you are doing an inventory of your poker assets, consider your bankroll, your skill, and your mental stamina. But don’t forget to look behind you. “Protecting your butt” may take on a whole new meaning.

Now don’t you wish this had been about bankroll management?


  1. Posted October 16, 2009 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    You’re too funny. I wish I had read this before because last year I developed Blogger Butt. I’m working on it…

  2. Posted October 17, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Yer great!! Do a subject about where the sun don’t shine. MUAHAHAHAHAHA. And use Phil, PRICELESS. YOU GO, GIRL!!!

  3. Posted November 6, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    “I’d have to say it is preparation.”