15 Bigs: Joe ‘Stapes’ Stapleton


It’s not easy for anyone in lockdown, but for gregarious stand-up comedians, this quarantine period feels like a tough gig.

15-bigs-joe-stapes-stapletonWe spoke to Joe ‘Stapes’ Stapleton, currently relaxing on the back of recording exclusive new commentaries on classic European Poker Tour coverage as part of the revolutionary ‘EPT Retro’ series for PokerStars.

How will the regularly quick-witted comedian and poker commentator deal with our posers, however? Let’s find out.

If you were to be shot at dawn, what would be your last meal/drink?

If you were to have asked me before quarantine, I probably would have said McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But now that I’ve been doing so much of my own cooking…I would still have to say McDonald’s or Taco Bell. I miss it so much!! I still order it a few times a week, just less now.

You’re on a long-haul flight and can only choose one TV Show or Movie to watch on repeat, which is your pick?

I’ve never seen Sons of Anarchy. I bet I’d like that.

Stranded on a desert island, you have one book for company until you are rescued. What is it?

The Bible. Ahahahah, just kidding. I would bring The Revisionaries by A.R. Moxon – it’s a novel written by a guy on Twitter that I just think is the greatest. Apparently, it’s good for multiple reads, so it seems like a good choice.

What’s the song you could listen to on repeat forever?

Absolutely nothing. Did you know I’m pretty whatever about music? I can’t think of a single song I’d rather have access to than none at all. That shit sounds like some Black Mirror torture porn to me.

What’s your favourite place to play poker and why?

My place. I have a loft upstairs in my apartment with a poker table. We have some pretty epic $2/$3 games that take place there with a mishmash of people from the entertainment industry. Yes, some names you might recognize (that I won’t name here), but holy shit are these guys some of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.

Where’s your favourite non-poker holiday destination?

I haven’t been on a non-poker, non-work, non-family obligation holiday since 2014. Well, that’s unless you count a few weekends in Amsterdam. I guess Amsterdam. I would tell you some anecdotes from there, but the only ones I remember would get me canceled.

You can play poker every day for a year or play no poker for a whole 12 months – which do you choose?

You’re saying I get to spend a whole 12 months without playing poker? How much would I have to pay for something like that???

Who is the person you don’t have around anymore that you miss the most?

Man, I have the best friends. We used to have massive after parties at my place every time I’d do a show at the Comedy Store. We’d celebrate a five-minute set like I’d just won the Super Bowl. I miss all of those friends a whole helluva lot. By the way, are you crazy? I’m supposed to name one person? Are you trying to get all my other friends to hate me? All three of them would be pissed!

Which person would you most like to meet but never have?

You’ve heard the phrase ‘Never meet your heroes’? Well, sometimes that’s sadly true, so I have to choose very carefully here. I’d really like to meet Adam Sandler. Everything I’ve heard about him is that he’s just the greatest guy. I don’t think he’d disappoint, and at the very least he’d be nice. I’d love to meet [Jerry] Seinfeld, but I’d be too afraid of upsetting him or him not liking me. Can’t do it.

When’s the last time life put you on tilt?

Haha, is this serious? I showed my girlfriend Justified recently and at the end of the pilot, Raylan is sitting on the porch with his ex-wife and he explains to her that he’s been feeling a lot of rage lately, and it’s kinda weird because he’s never considered himself to be an angry man. His ex looks at him and says “Raylan, you’re the angriest man I’ve ever met in my entire life.” At that moment, my current looks at me and says, “That’s you!!!”

You can’t play it yourself…so which family member do you trust with your $10k WSOP Main Event entry?

I’m pretty sure I can play it myself! The World Series of Poker let me go two years ago, so I don’t think there’s much stopping me other than bankroll, desire, nerve, and skill.

What’s your best poker skill?

I’m actually not a terrible reader of body language and intention. It doesn’t matter for dick these days at the poker table, but I’m pretty good at sussing out what someone’s behaviours and intentions are.

And your biggest leak?

Fear. Not only do I have a fear of losing, I’ve got fear of winning. I have too much empathy for poker. I know how absolutely gross it feels when I lose so I actually have a pretty frustrating fear of winning too.

If you became the world’s first global president, what would be your first unbreakable rule?

“Be excellent to each other.”

You have just ten seconds to call anyone in the world on the phone… but what do you say?

“If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it.”

OK, we’re toast – Stapes more than doubled up through those 15 bigs. He’s some kind of massive chip leader right now, and if you found that funny, then you’ll love his Twitter, where the man himself is currently deep in a Twitter joke-telling competition that’s on fire.