|Jesse May, multiple
author in the gambling field and sometimes dubded the "voice of poker", writes
a bi-weekly column.
|Most people know Jesse as "the voice of poker" from his
colourful commentary in CH4's late Night Poker. Jesse is also the author of the
widely respected novel, Shut Up And
Deal, which looks deep into the poker playing life. Its the hard faced
21st Century Cincinnati Kid.
also the creator of The Gambler's Guide to
the World, an insiders look at the action and games around the
||First I heard of Ted Forrest was as a freak.
Ted Forrest, poker player, the freak. As in, "You know what that freak Ted
Forrest did? Listen to this hand he played
" The stories were always about
limit poker, oftentimes Razz, and people would tell them like they were
describing a train wreck. "You're not gonna believe this
and then he hits
a jack, and then he check raises this guy!" Or, "
and then he turns up a
king and a three! He started with king, nine, three! Against an ace!" People
were always mad when they were playing this guy. He was driving them crazy.
In the beginning nobody ever accused Ted Forrest of playing good limit
poker. Back in the early nineties he just sat there in the chair wearing a long
haired hippie smile and boyish looks, sipping diet Pepsis and orange juice.
Smiling, calling, raising, and winning. Winning, winning, winning.
lot of people think successful limit poker players, really good limit poker
players, are uncreative. They claim that they are staid, patient, rockish
grinders with nothing better to do than freeze their faces in a cool rider mask
for eleven hours straight and watch other people go on tilt. That style might
get you far, it might get you steady money every hour and every year, punching
the poker room like a time clock with tips deducted and standard deviation as a
lord above all. But I'm talking about winning piles of money, stacks you can't
see over, and when I've seen Ted Forrest play limit poker, when I've seen him
playing almost every hand that gets dealt to him, when he is running over the
table, nobody has any idea what is going on in that head. Don't tell me it's
simple, don't tell me it's all been thought of, that there's no more to learn,
like now we have the book and that's the bible as well and the only real game
is no-limit, because that's where a man can think. Open up your mind and smell
the beauty, just because you don't see it don't mean it ain't there. Ted
Forrest is one weird freak, but don't think he hasn't done his homework.
I don't know Ted Forrest very well. Haven't talked with him much,
haven't played with him often. But as far as I can tell, about eight to ten
years ago Ted Forrest got into running poker simulations through a computer. He
got together with the Eight or Better Kid, that maniacal pudge faced
infuriatingly always right paranoid control freak from the Midwest USA, and
they started running simulations that nobody had thought of. Weird simulations,
flexible maybes, particular situations with certain kinds of players involving
percentages of things that might possibly be happening. I don't know what I'm
talking about. But I seen what it did to them. I seen strange looks on their
faces and strange glints in their eyes. They don't play like everybody else,
and I seen them spin people round and round and round. And the Eight or Better
Kid is one of the other all time biggest winners in the game of limit poker. As
in he ain't giving it back. As in the house gets very little, while he scours
the graveyard shift looking for bleeding bums who give him their money.
I'm no genius. My poker skill could fit in a mushroom cap. The limits
to my talent became painfully obvious while watching the development of the
poker star known far and wide as Johnny World, that Philadelphia talking, wise
headed, fast moving bundle of limitless talent who told me he'd gladly pay a
hundred grand not to have seen all the episodes to the Sopranos again, so he
could watch them fresh. Funny, the man's life is his own TV movie, coming into
the world as a pool player and turning genius at whatever he puts his mind to,
when he ain't on the pis. I played with him the second time he ever played
poker, between stints at the crap table when he didn't know an ace from his
ass, shooting his load at three-handed Hold'em. It took Johnny World about
three weeks before he could play better than me, soon after he could turn me
like a top. Within a year he was space age, a limit poker playing guru, hard to
even follow in a conversation.
Nowadays Ted Forrest is establishment.
Now that he's won his World Series bracelets, now that he plays with Jerry
Buss, now that he lives in Las Vegas, now that everybody's looked around and
tried to find where the money went and realized, "Oh yeah, Ted won it all." Now
Ted's a great player. After years of marginalizing him first as a freak, then
as a lucky asshole, and finally as a rich guy, now they're all starting to talk
about him again as a great player who's won more money in limit poker cash
games than anybody else. Well, I got news for you. He didn't win all that money
The world runs around saying that there ain't much skill
to limit poker. No, it ain't magic. But people assume that they know
everything, that science is absolute, and limit poker is something to be
dismissed. Or that it's no more than 2+2. But what if the books on limit poker
are about as scientifically complete as astronomy in the sixteenth century? You
try and say the earth is revolving around the sun, you're gonna get yourself
thrown in jail. And Forrest, man, that's one heretic. He is one long haired,
hippie looking, freaky playing, mild mannered guy who's won a whole lot of
money, and sometimes, if you're lucky, he just might give you a glimpse into
that head of his. Check out the High Hand of the Week he wrote one time for
Phil Hellmuth's website. It's a thing of beauty.
With all due respect to
the book writing level headed mathematicians who have embedded their stamps on
poker and contributed to the bones of the science of the game I love, I don't
see any of them inventing relativity. Actually, I see them calling Einstein a
heretic. I see them putting Copernicus in prison.
Don't you know physics
still has no unified theory? Don't you know there's still no explanation for
the order of the universe? We're still grasping at straws, writing books and
hollering loudly. Don't throw the heretics in jail. Maybe they got