In poker, some believe, myself included, that the cardinal sin is to invest emotional capital into a single hand of poker. Unless your name is Wild Bill Hickock, poker is not life and death.
If the above is true, then why are players like Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow and Will Kassouf so successful with their investments of emotional capital?
Here's my take. Their outbursts scare people off their games.
Now how do you go about accomplishing the same things without the investment of emotional capital? The answer lies in several key facts about me.
First, I am a keen observer of people's mannerisms at the table.
Second, I have been known to use something my dad, a former Marine Drill Instructor, taught me. Its called command voice inflection. I learned how to raise my voice without yelling. Third, I have a very quick wit, dry sense of humor and little to no filter between my brain and my mouth.
For example, at a tournament I played in at The Sahara Casino in Las Vegas, the player to my immediate right had been a jerk to every one all night. I had had enough of it. When he opens the betting, I immediately go: "Raise to 28,000." He goes: "Jesus, Michelle, you don't have to yell." My response: "I said raise to 28,000. Want me to repeat it louder so you can understand me? The amount is 28,000."
He told me later that my voice plus my short response convinced him of 2 things. One, he was beaten in the hand (I flopped a set). Two, he was out of line with his actions.
In my forthcoming book, AN UNCONVENTIONAL SYSTEM: A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO PLAYING POKER TOURNAMENTS AGAINST MEN, I teach women how to use voice inflection against men.
Are there ways to combat overly emotional men? I will use a quote from Patrick Swayze in the movie "Roadhouse": "Be nice. Be nice until it's time not to be nice."
In poker parlance, this is exact right time to fore back at the loudmouths!!! When I play against Phil Hellmuth, I have the perfect way to shut him up.
"Phillip, do you, me and Cathy need to have a private conversation?"
A couple of key points here. First, Phil absolutely hates being called Phillip. Second, his wife Cathy is friends with my gender therapist. Third, he knows that anyone brave enough to invoke his wife's , he crossed a line.
On to Mike Matusow. My take on Mike os this, he is a clown without makeup on. How do I deal with this type of player? First, it's player specific. Knowing their back story helps a ton. As for Mike, I use his admitted drug use against him. It goes like this: "Mike, you still hitting the pipe?" Or like this: "Mike, lay off the junk. Your brain is fried." My personal favorite is this one: "I know your back is bugging you but please lay off the pipe. You're sounding goofier than normal."
Will Kassouf. The name alone brings a wide range of responses. So, how do you deal with a loudmouthed jerk at the table? First, ignore them. Play your game and avoid falling into the trap of split-focus. Let them run their mouths. If they cross the line, call the floor and say player abuse. Nothing frustrates an attention seeker like Kassouf more than someone who refuses to engage in their antics. Be patient. Eventually, they will write a check with their mouth that their game can't cash.
Another example of a player who is a jerk at the table is Allen Kessler. Kessler is well known for his hatred of women players and female dealers. He is rude, abrasive, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic. How do you deal with jerks like Kessler? Use every trick in the book to set him off. When he does, call for penalties!!! For the record, I have little iuse for him as do a lot of female players and dealers.
One final thought. My wife says that I play better when something sets me off before I play. She calls it playing "pissed off poker". I think being aggravated about something allows me to channel that energy into playing better. There are times that I swear she does it on purpose. Especially if she sees me down or lagging mentally. My wife, at times, has to be an amateur psychologist to deal with me when I am prepping for a tournament. My wife, Sue, has the patience of a saint. For her to put up with my insane schedule is a true gift..