Wimbledon, the Academy Awards, the Masters, and even the World
Series of Poker — everyone picks his favorite, the person he wants to
win. Should I root for the underdog or the favorite? This poor guy has
never won anything and plays so hard, but on the other hand, this guy
is so good and wins so much, he deserves to win. I hear this dilemma all
the time, and I have my own answer: I want the “nice” guy to win.
I root for Tom Hanks, Cal Ripken, the firefighters of New York City, and
my dad — the nice guys. Of course, I automatically root against Mike
Tyson, Gary Condit, Tonya Harding, and any team associated with Al
Davis. They are not on my nice list.
When my husband plays in poker tournaments, I always want him to
win, of course, but then I go to my “nice person” list. I always want Ron
McMillan to win because he is nice, friendly, good-natured, and a
gentleman. He is the whole “nice” package.
If I see Barry Johnston playing, I want him to win because he too is a
gentleman. It is always a pleasant experience watching him play. I know
I am not going to see any ugliness from him. Chris Ferguson is one of
the consummate nice guys. He is so nice that I have seen him lose a big
pot and then come over to speak to me, as if he had just won a big pot.
Barry and Chris are both admirable World Series of Poker champions
because of their exceptional demeanor at the poker table.
Howard “Tahoe” Andrew is a good friend, and is very good-natured. If
he gets to the final table, I like to see him win. I never have to worry
about seeing or hearing anything seedy from Howard. Chuck Thompson
is also very nice, and always cordial, pleasant, and amicable. I am
always happy when I see his name on the list of money winners. And if
all the other foreign players were half as nice as Chris Bjorin — wow! He
is one player who should give lessons in poker etiquette.
Unfortunately, my “not so nice” list is longer than my “nice” list. I don’t
have to list those not so nice individuals, because most people know
who most of these players are. Most poker players can be nice at times,
but at other times, they’re not nice at all. I never cease to be amazed at
how nice some people can be around the breakfast or dinner table, but
around the poker table they become downright ugly. They’re almost like
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
And please don’t tell me that poker is a competitive game and players
need to be that way to win. No one in a competitive endeavor needs to
be crude, mean-spirited, vulgar, nasty — well, you get the picture. Just
talk to Ron, Barry, Howard, Chris F., Chuck, or Chris B.
Most poker players, fortunately or perhaps unfortunately, fall into that
middle/median area. They are nice most of the time, some of the time,
occasionally, once in a while, or every now and then. And it’s not to say
that I don’t root for these middle-of-the-road guys. I often root for them
because I know it is difficult to be on that ultimate nice guy pedestal with
the select few. I know that most of you might be nice for a while if you
win a hand, or maybe if you win a tournament, you might be nice the
entire next day. I said, you might!
Anyway, you may be a very good, or even great, poker player, but if you
are not nice, I (and probably many others) am not going to be rooting for
you. Many poker players will say they’re out to win poker tournaments,
not a popularity contest. There is nothing wrong with that, I guess, but
just remember Ebenezer Scrooge. The ghost of poker past, poker
present, and poker future will eventually come knocking at your door.
For what it's worth ...
My Picks By Debbie Burgio
By Vince Burgio