Some weeks, you might want to hear from the elite players in poker to inspire your working week, other times it’s all about the champions. This week, however, it’s the turn of some of poker’s little guys to send you into the week with cheer in your heart. No, we’re not specifically talking about players of reduced height, but more the underdogs of the poker world.
From the World Champion who coined an era to the superfan who became the man, underdogs are the poker narrators of history. Let’s read them in their own words, their inspiring, moving words.
- “Just fold and I can go to the bathroom.” – Sebastian Malec
OK, maybe not those words exactly but if you know the context, then you’ll get the meaning. That was what EPT ‘superfan’ Sebastian Malec said when trying to elicit a call to win his the EPT Barcelona Main Event. He sat in the crowd, and his emotional reaction thereafter will go down in poker history.
- “I play this stupid game all the time and get f**ked. I was ready to quit.” – Ben Keeline
Just like a million memes, Ben Keeline proved that just when you’re about to give up is the time to press on. In an interview with the WSOP immediately after his epic Colossus victory, Keeline described how close he’d come to giving up the game he loves. “The two biggest scores in my life have come at my lowest points,” Keeline told reporters after the win. “I’ve had a really hard time lately, and I’ve just tried to stay positive. I can’t believe it. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m elated. It’s unreal. I almost didn’t come to the Series because I couldn’t pay my bills if I didn’t have a winning Series.” Talk about pressure! What a performance from the underdog in 2016.
- “When I was broke, no-one ever offered to buy me a beer. Now that I have quite a bit of money, everybody tries to buy me beers.” – Chris Moneymaker
In an interview with Bernard Lee on ESPN, Chris Moneymaker, who was the biggest underdog in WSOP Main Event history, revealed the price of success – that bittersweet look at life before it comes. Roger Moore said the same thing about when he became James Bond, on millions for every movie and no longer needing to pay for a thing. Moneymaker is the James Bond of poker and continues to leave us shaken and stirred with his inspiring words.
- “I don’t want to make any rash decisions, because when you do that that’s when you make mistakes.” – Scott Blumstein
In an interview with High Stakes Database after his WSOP Main Event victory in 2017, Scott Blumstein reveals one of the secrets of the game, which is to always stay calm at the felt – and perhaps beforehand in choosing when to play. It’s hard to argue with one of the most popular underdog champions in recent years.
- “It’s just something that was on my bucket-list for ages. My aim was to finish in the top 1,000 and have some fun.” John Hesp
It’s impossible not to love John Hesp. The Bridlington caravan business owner swapped Hull for Las Vegas in the same year Blumstein won it, and in doing so swapped his £10 pub game back home for the $10,000-entry WSOP Main Event. Sure, he had to put up the $10,000 buy-in, and sure, this is a man who owns a DeLorean modelled on the one that features in the 1985-1990 Back to the Future trilogy, but he still counts as an underdog and no amount of loud shirts will convince us otherwise.
- “The mindset is always to go for it.” – Ramon Colillas
Winning the PokerStars PSPC gave Ramon Colillas one of the best comeback underdog victories in poker history. The genial Colillas, who had to beat some top players on his way to winning the Spanish league which gave him the Platinum Pass in the first place, went on to claim $5.1 million after ‘going for it’ in Barcelona. It completely changed his life and he is now a ‘Stars ambassador. Well played.
- “Poker is not a game of cards played with other people, it’s a game of people played with cards.” – Unknown Underdog
It may be impossible to track down the bearer of this particular poker quote, but they’ve got to be an underdog, haven’t they? This sounds like something a player says after they’ve seen their full house rivered by quads. Anyone who attracts attention to a bad beat is by definition lacking in professionalism and therefore we surmise that they’re an underdog.
We don’t know which people the unknown underdog is referring to, here, but if you’re letting it get personal, the game’s got to you.
Enjoy an inspiring week at the felt, everyone. There will be more inspiring words from poker past and present next week right here on Calvin Ayre.