Getting it Quietly

Getting it Quietly

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Not all publicity is good publicity says Jeff Kimber

Self-promotion is one of the many skills poker players need to possess if they are going to grab one of the big sponsorship contracts with one of the major poker sites. Some poker players are fantastic self-promoters. You can’t pick up a magazine without seeing their pearly whites smiling back at you. They’re active on Twitter and Facebook (or they have someone who pretends to be them acting on their behalf), and whenever a quote is needed or an interview during a tournament sought, the same guys are there waiting.

To maintain this public face and to be a good site ambassador, they have to be seen to do and say the right thing, win and lose with grace and generally maintain their good public image, and that’s no mean feat. Note, while winning is preferred, it’s by no means essential to maintain or even attain.

It makes sense that all of us as poker players should be aspiring to reaching the status of “sponsored pro” – this is the peak of a career as a poker player. I think that for a time this was probably true, but I’ve noticed a definite change as poker players have started to realise the benefits of anonymity, rather than fame.

At last year’s British Poker Awards, I was sitting with Sam Trickett and, in between him getting up to pick up another award every five minutes, I asked him about the big games he was playing in Macau. It’s been well documented that those games are not well documented – it benefits no one if one of the players starts reporting the big hands, the big losers and the questionable standard of play.

I’ve known Sam for years and played with him a lot. Of course he could sit there tweeting all sorts about how bad seat five just played and how many times the fella in seat one has reloaded, but what’s the point? It would be the beginning of the end for his golden goose.

Sam even said that last time he’d been to Macau, he and Tom Dwan had been playing in the biggest game, but Phil Ivey had literally been on the outside looking in. I asked why that was. Surely, if they’re allowing pros into the game, they’d love to play with the best, but Sam just laughed.

“They’ll play with anyone, but me and Tom give plenty of action. Anyone who doesn’t soon gets kicked out of the game.”

It was evident that being the best, or most famous player, was neither here nor there in cash games, and as the saying goes, “it’s tournaments for show and cash games for dough”.

The Macau games are secretive, the super whales are never outed and the pros who do get in the game conduct themselves in such a fashion that that remains the case. However, it was only recently that I realised this is being taken a step further.

I’m working with a new strategy community site called, and as such I touched base with a number of friends and acquaintances whose games I respect in order to sound them out about contributing strategy articles and videos. Most were keen to get involved. A couple were in the ‘let them learn the hard way, I’m not giving my secrets away’ camp, which I think is understandable, given that before strategy sites and videos, learning to be a top poker player was a lot more time-consuming and costly.

But a couple of others replies were much more interesting. I’ve a good friend who is a fantastic poker teacher, explains the game very well, and understands and can simplify some very complex poker theory in a way that would be perfect for PokerWinners.

I tried to get him involved, but it turns out his latest get-rich-scheme is the big cash games that are currently becoming more common in India. He has friends out there and is cultivating more friendships to enable him to get into these big juicy games. Maybe he is just too busy, or they’re too lucrative, for him to bother with writing strategy for a website?

Another friend of mine has won huge amounts in tournaments and is also a regular and very good NLHE and PLO cash game player. I spoke to him about our new site and how much I’d be interested in reading and learning some strategy from him.

He wasn’t interested either, but he went further and explained why. He said he’d love to be involved and support our new launch, but that he couldn’t write any strategy as it could spoil his action in the private games he was trying to get into in London.

“How am I supposed to keep up the premise that I’m just some clown who likes a bit of a punt in between bottles of Dom if they pick up a mag or see a website with me explaining some complex cash game theory – not that they’d understand.”

He even went on to offer to write some man-about-town playboy type pieces which would help him cultivate his image! There are huge cash games in London every week, some in casinos, many not. I was round another friend’s house, watching the cricket, while he was filling me in on the game he’d played the night before. Guy Laliberte was in town and a game had been hurriedly arranged. As we were chatting, Tom Dwan phoned him to ask where his invite was as he was in London too.

These games remain quiet, and in turn the players playing them remain quiet. When you’re world class at something, it’s great to be able to tell everyone how fabulous you are and receive the plaudits, but poker isn’t like football or athletics, or really like anything else. We’re not playing for trophies or Olympic gold medals, we’re playing for cold, hard cash, and sometimes the best way to get the lot is to get it quietly.

Tags: Jeff Kimber, Sam Trickett, Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Guy Laliberte