Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Chessmaster

Callipygian (the resident math nerd in small stakes hold 'em, which is a title not won lightly I must say) recently suggested that I do some more posts regarding the characters I run into on a daily basis now that I've changed venues. While I don't think I have anybody as interesting to write about as WTK or Neal, nor do I currently seem to have the energy to do any of the characters great justice, hopefully what I'm about to say will at least make somebody chuckle. As an aside, over the last two years I have learned enough about poker to understand that a lot of what WTK was doing really made a great deal of sense. Pete and I developed some theories on him, one of which being that since he bought in with purple chips he must have been a long term winner, and my personal favorite "I don't like playing with WTK I like playing with people that are playing with WTK." Rereading my post about him really makes me wonder. I had a lot of it "wrong" back then in terms of how I was dealing with him, and yet back then I seemed to crush every 20/40 game I sat in where as now a days, well, as you all know things haven't exactly been going well for over a year at this point. Anyway....

First of all, part of the reason nobody stands out in my mind as an obvious candidate for this post is that there are just so many assholes out there that it really takes tremendous effort to stand out from the crowd. The HG 20 ecosystem has at least 5 regulars I can think of that are more irritating than all but the worst of the worst players I ever encountered up north (really only Clark from GC and the great Neal himself make the cut). But I must chose one for the current roasting and therefore without further adieu I present to you The Chessmaster. The man earned his name by basically challenging someone to play chess at the table, after said someone declared that he was pretty good at chess and suggested they play for money. Chessmaster grandly claimed he was "ranked" and kept using that word "ranked" over and over again until we all knew that he was ranked but as usual when the Chessmaster speaks had no fucking clue what it meant. Eventually the two started playing air chess (which is decidedly less cool than air guitar) by announcing moves to each other and (apparently) keeping track of the board state in their heads. Within 10 moves other guy ceded, saying "yeah you're a lot better than me" and that was that for everyone except Chessmaster, who didn't stop telling the story for what felt like three days.

The first thing you need to know about the Chessmaster is that he is one of those players who thinks he knows what is doing but in fact is often the biggest fish at the table. That sort of delusion is getting harder and harder to find these days, and I really do thank my lucky stars every time he's in the game. The man honestly thinks he's a winning player; he's not one of those people who accept that they are getting somewhat the worst of it (like I do when I play something like craps or blackjack in Las Vegas) but are there to have fun. He has literally one of the largest gaps between his perceived and actual skill level that I have ever seen. And his sins are the most basic and common sins of limit hold 'em; he plays way too many hands, cold-calls way too many raises, and calls way too many bets post flop. That's really it, and that's really all it takes. If he were an online player his stats would probably be something like 80/8/.3 or some such redonkulous line that I would immediately color dark blue which is my fishiest of colors (I pressed it into service for the truly gifted, the players for whom purple simply does not suffice). And compounding his looseness is the fact that he is very easy to avoid paying off. I find myself making what would be considered absurd lay downs to him all the time, not only confident in my decision but often getting it confirmed by him flashing me whatever the current "it" happens to be. The dude is just awful.

But that doesn't stop him for berating other people for their bad plays. His favorite lines are "nice catch" when you pair up on the turn to defeat his pair of 4s, or "raising with the worst hand" to describe anyone who open raises basically anything less than Ace Jack preflop. He loves to turn to whomever is unfortunate enough to be sitting next to him (which is very often me as this guy usually gets must moved over later in the day and is decidedly a king maker, or in this case Zeus Seat maker) and explain why what the other player did was so bad. His explanations are comical, mostly because his ability to read hands is practically non-existent. Without going into detail, he usually puts someone on a preposterous hand for the situation, and therefore just assumes that other people will do the same thing. Like, he definitely hasn't figured out that people who bet the flop after raising before it don't necessarily have top pair, and he assumes that when he bets the flop everyone knows that he has top pair or better. Now truth be told I do know that, but as he himself proves every 15 minutes or so, it is decidedly not difficult to crack top pair....anyway. Last week I made an absurd call down after the following action:

Some people limp, I raise the AQ, a fish cold calls the CO, one of the blinds caps, I just call, the fish caps it, we all call, and the flop is 5 ways. The board runs out:


Putting 3 spades on the river. The fish in the CO has bet every street, and on the river the preflop 3-bettor in the blind folds and it's on me to call or fold closing the action at like 16:1. As I'm pondering my decision Chessmaster (neatly tucked to right and $100 light thanks to this current pot) says "what are you thinking about? He's got a big pocket pair, I don't know what you're thinking about." Now first of all it's extremely rude to even address me in this situation. Second of all, he definitely definitely definitely shouldn't be telling me what to do. And third of all, as should be obvious, this guy doesn't have a big pocket pair. When two people limp and somebody raises and you're in the CO, you don't just call hoping it will get 3 bet so you can cap with your aces. You just don't do it. He continues "Do you have a pair" to which I respond kind of angrily "of course not" and just keep trying to talk myself into a call. Finally I do call and the fish rolls A8. Of spades. For the runner runner nut flush. Chessmaster declares "See I knew he had it" and the table is just speechless as I muck (it's one of those spots where people who are half paying attention and think they have everything figured out realize that something is going on that they were completely unaware's kind of a funny moment to be honest).

So horrible play and attempts to educate the fish as to the folly of their ways aside, the Chessmaster is also one of the most obnoxious people I have ever met. He will literally interrupt you, from the other side of the table, to make a point that has absolutely nothing to do with what you're talking about. He will say the same thing 4 or 5 times in a row, restating his point even after you respond directly with "I understand that you need to prove to everyone that you are right and I am wrong, but would you mind stopping so I can finish my story?" It's as if he literally is incapable of hearing the words that come out of your mouth. Back on the day it was 113 degrees (my life....fuck my life) I was reading CNN's blog giving a direct quote which was something like "The temperature in LA just reached 113 degrees, setting an all time high for the county" and before I could even finish he said "That's not true it's been hotter." My response was "Well, it says here, on CNN, that it's the hottest it's ever been" and the conversation deteriorated from there, with him basically making ass of himself repeatedly explaining how I was wrong and it had been hotter, even after I said clearly "Look, I am just reading a quote from the internet" he continued to insist I was wrong and it was just amazing.

Today someone brought up the fact that Massachusetts is a commonwealth and I attempted to dazzle the table with my knowledge that their are four commonwealths in the United States, specifically Massachusetts, Pennsyltucky, Virgina, and Kentucky (which should be known as The Patron State of Shooting Stuff no matter what Marky Mark says), to which Chessmaster responded "Like New England, when they banded together for gerrymandering." I want you, dear reader, to think about all the ways in which that sentence is preposterous. Myself and the other two players in the conversation were just stunned by it's inappropriateness. It had NOTHING to do with what we were talking about. Zero. He went on to mention New England again, taking our astonishment to mean that we were unfamiliar with the term. "Don't you guys know what New England is?" was his next attempt to take control of the conversation and show us that he was the smartest guy at the table. "Yes I do, but that just has nothing to do with what we're talking about" was my response. I'm getting bolder with this guy, testing how big of an ass I can be, and so far it would seem I'm nowhere near the limits. Apparently he really doesn't listen when you speak and has no ability to discern subtext, mockery, or sarcasm (just like he can't read hands). He continued to explain to us that the New England states banded together for gerrymandering, and that that was in fact what we were talking about. At this point there really was nothing left to say; the Chessmaster once again got the last word, with his foils left in stunned silence, wondering which was more probable (or less impossible): is he actually this dumb or is he somehow putting on an act?


Captain R said...

I think poker is the only social activity where you are allowed to be a total dipshit and there's really nothing the other participants can do about it.

Not only can they not do anything, they are trapped hours on end having to deal with smelly, annoying people with poor bodily hygiene and poor social graces. Unless you are breaking the rules, you're basically allowed to act however you want.

In some respect, the asshats are paying for the privilege of being obnoxious.

Dan said...

I get the impression Chessmaster may be autistic. That, or he may be the world's biggest fishtastic douche.

Hamking said...

.......they ACTUALLY played air chess????????

OMF-GOD that kills me.... XD

jesse8888 said...

Not only did they play air chess. They played like 4 matches, with other guy ceding quickly every time. This guy named Joel who is always just busting everyone's balls told them he was unimpressed and that they needed to play "....." (fake word I can't remember) which is where you stack 3 boards on top of each other and play in 3 dimensions.

bellatrix78 said...

"is he actually this dumb or is he somehow putting on an act?"

I find myself thinking this so often in live poker, great quote...

bellatrix78 said...

Oh, I played air-chess a couple of times when I was in chess club for a few months in high school. Got whooped every time!

Dave said...

@Captain R: Being a software engineer is a lot like that.

@Jesse: I challenge you to a game of air chess right now. I go first. Ready...GO! Ok...Q-b5. Checkmate! I win! Seriously, how does one resolve differences in air chess?