Showing posts with label Poker Nicknames. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poker Nicknames. Show all posts

How Phil Galfond Got His Nickname
—A Poker "Just So Story"

October 03, 2010

Last night, the sig other (the infamous "Jack") and I enjoyed a fun evening with our good friends, Mr. & Mrs. Jugweed.  A combination of delicious brisket chili, a few Dark 'N Stormys, a little prosecco, and a Hawkeye victory over Joe PA St. made for a perfect start to the October portion of the college football season.  At one point in the evening, Jugweed and I started talking about the recent WSOP Main Event coverage on ESPN.  As the talk turned to the significant coverage of online poker wunderkind Phil Galfond, Jugweed pointed out, "You know, Jack gave Phil Galfond his nickname."

Now, for those readers who have never met Jack, let's just say he enjoys the party side of the Vegas experience.  Gambling doesn't much interest him, other than running an occasional $20 through a Wheel of Fortune slot while enjoying a smoke and a free drink.  No, Jack is one of those tourists who bought into the whole "What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas" marketing campaign—hanging at the pool during the day, wandering from bar to bar on the Strip at night, generally having a fun, booze-fueled vacation getaway.

On one of our early couples' trips to Vegas, Jack and the Jugweeds had spent the day sunning and boozing at the TI pool.  So after a late dinner (with drinks), and the Harrah's piano bar (with more drinks), I managed to pour Jack into bed shortly after midnight, then headed down to the TI poker room for a lucrative late night poker session.  Around 5:00 am, I called it a night and headed up to the room where I discovered ... no Jack.  This was vaguely alarming, in a "Is my poker bankroll big enough for bail?" sort of way.  After calling his cell phone several times, he finally answered:

Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  I woke up and wanted to have a drink.
Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  I don't know.
Me:  Where are you?
Jack:  In a bar.
Me:  Where?
Jack:  On the Strip.

With that helpful information established, I finally had Jack pass the phone to someone sober who told me he was at Bill's Gamblin' Hall O' Apostrophes'.  I walked up the Strip to retrieve Jack.  As we walked—or in Jack's case, stumbled—back to TI, a limousine pulls up along side us in front of the Venetian, leading Jack to declare:

"I want a limo!  I'm too pretty to walk!"

Now, Jack has a long-running obsession with limos in Vegas.  Perhaps his favorite Vegas drunken game—other than pinching strangers and security guards who don't wear green on St. Paddy's Day—is to run up to tourists outside Strip casinos, point to a random person getting out of a limo, and scream in his best celebrity stalker voice:

"Oh my god!  It's Beyoncé!"
"Oh my god!  It's Mariah Carey!"
"Oh my god!  It's Britney Spears!"

There have been dozens of these faux-celeb sightings in Vegas, which never cease to amuse Jack, annoy me, and alarm the poor tourists sucked into the hilarity.  In any event, this brings us full circle to the "Just So Story" of "How Phil Galfond Got His Nickname".

Once upon a time, back in the good ol' days when online poker was a veritable Garden of Eden filled with juicy games, easy deposits, and great rakeback deals, a scruffy kid was playing in a WPT event at the Bellagio.  The Kid happened to wind up at the featured table with poker legends Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon, and Phil Hellmuth.  After winning a couple of pots each off Ivey, Gordon, and Hellmuth, the Kid started talking some smack:

The Kid:  "Looks like I'm the best Phil when it comes to tournament poker."
Ivey:  "Care to make it interesting?"
The Kid:  "Sure.  What you got in mind?"
Ivey:  "If any of you Phils bust me, I pay you a million dollars.  If I bust any of you, I get to pick the online poker nickname that you have to use for the rest of your life."
Hellmuth:  "I'm out.  Nobody would insure that bet."
Gordon:  "Why can't I get a table with a bunch of celebrity players?"
The Kid:  "You got a bet!"

Later that same orbit, the Kid raises in early position, and Ivey calls on the button.  The flop comes down Ad-4d-5d.  The Kid bets.  Ivey raises.  The Kid chatters a bit, does a little Hollywooding, then pushes all-in.  Ivey turns around to pay his massage girl for another hour, then calls. 

The Kid proudly rolls over AcAs for top set.

Ivey quietly tables 6d-3d for the rather unsuspected flush.

The Kid stands up and screams, "One time!"

Phil Gordon looks puzzled:  "What the hell does that mean?"

Phil Hellmuth mutters, "He means it's the one time he's had a real hand all day.  Idiot."

The dealer peels off the turn card:  the case Ace, giving the Kid quads.

The Kid starts whooping it up, running around the rail, giving high fives to his friends.  "One meeellion dollars!  It's bottle service tonight, boys!" 

Gordon breathlessly murmurs, "Wow! Wow!  Wow!  The Kid was only 32% to win on the flop.  Very unlucky card for Ivey."

Hellmuth lectures the table, "That's why you don't play 6-3.  Only donkeys play 6-3.  I bet Phil there can't even spell 'donkey'."

The dealer puts out the river:  the deuce of diamonds.  A straight flush for Ivey!

The crowd erupts!  The Kid sinks to his knees, head in hands.  Suddenly, a tourist stumbling down the hall, wearing an Iowa t-shirt, and sipping an oversized Fat Tuesday Hurricane slushie points at the Kid and blurts out, "Oh my god!  It's Clay Aiken!  It's Clay Aiken!"

Ivey smirks.

And that, dear children, is how Phil Galfond got his nickname.

Phil Galfond with his 2008 WSOP bracelet for $5K PLO.
(image via Wikipedia).

Galfond's celebrity twin, Clay Aiken.
(image via Wikipedia).

Take the red pill! ... There's more to see ...

Poker Nicknames

September 09, 2010

When at a poker table with strangers—which is common even in my local casino—I tend to assign nicknames to the more memorable folks.  It rarely has any real connection to their playing ability, but is more a way of labeling folks who stand out from the usual riff-raff at the tables.  A lot of times, the nicknames are pretty obvious, based on things like their resemblance to an actor (e.g., Doogie Howser/NPH, Steven Seagal, Richard Simmons), their professed or implied profession (e.g., Sheriff, Professor, Pimp), or their favorite sports team/athlete (e.g., Tex, Colt, Gator, Jeter).  Occasionally, I will needle a friendly player with his/her nickname, but mostly I keep the nicknames to myself or share them with friends in relating hand histories or a trip report.

Flamingo:  A tall stork-like kid wearing a bright pink shirt while playing poker at ... Bally's.  When he got a call from friends to line up the night's clubbing activities, I made a dry crack asking, "Aren't they expecting you back at the Flamingo for the night shift?"  He gave me a confused look and said, "Oh no, I'm not from here, I'm from Florida."  Of course, I was the only one who saw the humor in his reponse, but at least I got a chuckle out of it.

Montana:  Short guy who looked all of 16 years old who I played poker with at TI.  He managed to win a ton of money at roulette from Steve Wynn on Encore's opening night, then gave it all back, "instead of getting a couple of hookers and some Cristal like I should've done."  His nickname is because he was from Montana, which seemed so incongruous with his party boy attitude that it has stuck with me.

Cowboy:  Guy I've played with a few times at Planet Hollywood, always has a big cowboy hat, western style shirt, big ol' shiny belt buckle, and polished cowboy boots.  If this guy has ever actually branded cattle in his life, I'll eat his hat.  Horrendous bluffer, btw.

Sherminator:  This nickname isn't even mine, instead being bestowed on one unfortunate young donkey by Santa Claus and Lucky during IMOP-II.  This poor kid truly thought he was a poker pro, snidely stating, "I play the player, not the cards."  Santa and I tilted Shermy during a late night session at the Venetian, when we managed to trap Shermy's Kings with Santa's Queens and my Aces, everyone all-in preflop for a monsterpotten.  Sure enough, short-stacked Santa stole the main pot with a river Queen, while I managed a nice profit with the sidepot.  While Shermy was debating the preflop call, Santa even threw in a gratuitous, "I play the player, not the cards."  I'm wondering if the Sherminator ever played poker again.

Chris Owen, a/k/a "Sherminator" in the
"American Pie" movie series (image source).

Dragon Lady:  This is an older Chinese woman who plays a lot at the Venetian.  Long red talons ... errr fingernails, and an angry, combative personality make her rather memorable.  I'm fairly certain she hates every dealer and every player involved in any hand she loses.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of those dealers or players wound up dead.  Seems like an obvious villain for the next James Bond flick.

Fish Sticks:  An older nit who would be otherwise utterly forgettable, except on three occasions at three different Vegas Strip poker rooms, I've seen him open up his backpack and pull out a baggie filled with his lunch/dinner.  You guessed it—good ol' frozen fish sticks.

Garanimals:  This is a new one from my recent visit to the Riverside Poker Emporium & Donk-A-Rama.  There was a younger guy, clean cut, most likely a student at the nearby University of Iowa.  He was a terrible player, chronically grinding a short stack at the 2/5 NLHE game, routinely limp-calling preflop for $20-$30, then check-folding the flop, despite having invested over 20% of his stack.  Just a very curious playing style, though I didn't find many hands where I could try to exploit his weak-tight style.  In any event, he was wearing an orange polo style shirt with a green crocodile on the front.  I immediately nicknamed him "Garanimals".  Apparently, I should be placed on gay probation, as I had no idea what brand was represented by the croc logo.  But, my sig other gave me a huge eye roll and derisively advised me the brand was Lacoste.  Who knew?  This poor guy will forever be known to me as "Garanimals".

Take the red pill! ... There's more to see ...

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