Professional poker players will do just about anything to give themselves that extra edge at the felts. Vanessa Rousso, for example, has just signed an endorsement deal to promote the EQ Energy drink.
Apparently the Smart Energy drink is a tablet that is dissolved in water, contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee and consists of ‘essential vitamins’. I haven’t used that line since the time I got caught dropping some rohypnol in a girl’s glass on a first date. Funnily enough it was the last date too, but I don’t think she remembered much about it.
Even Daniel Negreanu and Doyle Brunson have been shamelessly bandying around Endura Strips as their new best friend. Of course these strips are not drugs, you understand, they just contain “a unique blend of intrinsic energies that are formulated to affect certain conditions of the human body”. So how is it not a drug?
The company says, “Since the Endura Poker Strips are non-transdermal, nothing enters the body.” Ah ha. Clever. Nice technicality. It’s still giving you an advantage, though, isn’t it. Just because you’re not actually ingesting something doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you in some way. I mean, put me on a table with Joana Krupa and she won’t have to actually touch me for physical changes to start happening to my body. And if she did those physical changes would happen pretty fucking quickly.
Brunson says, “What I have experienced is that these strips keep me focused and from getting tired, which equals money.” So there you have it. But is it actually cheating? In fact is drug-taking of any kind cheating? Hundreds of thousands of pounds are at stake in high stakes poker matches, so you could argue that it is. Maybe they should enforce compulsory drugs testing, but then what would you outlaw? EQ, coffee, cocaine?
It’s always difficult to calculate the effect of so-called performance-enhancers in mind pursuits such as poker, because they will affect different people in different ways and those effects are almost impossible to determine. The effect of steroids and stanozolol on Ben Johnson’s system was obvious because he ran 100 metres in 9.79 but you can’t really say that Daniel Negreanu is the No2 in the world because he takes Endura Strips. It’s more likely that Endura Strips have hooked up with Negreanu because he is No2 in the world.
Players who are taking coke might do so because it gives them more confidence when they play. But if they do they are probably only kidding themselves because they will be more likely to play unnecessarily aggressively. I’ve watched Nik Persaud having a beer as he approached the bubble during a UK tournament and I’m sure he was doing it to lull the others into thinking that he was pissed.
Poker has evolved from fun pastime into big business but the fact that you can play whilst hammered or high is part of its intrinsic charm. I daresay there will be more and more of these so-called energy drinks and tablets and drugs doing the rounds as poker becomes more mainstream and people can either take them or leave them. One word of advice, if Joana Krupa’s around, take Viagra. Just make sure you don’t buy it off this guy. Read more.