The Life And Trials Of Benny Degenerito
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2007-11-18, by Ozone, TwoGunIt has been estimated that only 10-15% of poker players are long term winners at the game. Unfortunately for Benny Degenerito, he's not one of them. Even more unfortunate for Benny is that it took him a long time to realize this. That's because Benny, like many poker players, went through a long, five-step process in confronting the fact that he is not a winning poker player.
Mr. Degenerito's poker career started in 2003. After watching Chris Moneymaker win $2,500,000 at the WSOP, Benny thought, "Hey! I can do that!" Benny promptly deposited $50 on Party Poker, lost it, deposited another $50, and lost that too. Benny repeated this process over a dozen times. That was, until a year later, Benny won a $5 multi-table tournament for $1,400. His co-workers couldn't believe it. The win prompted Benny to take poker more seriously. He began to fashion himself as a semi-professional poker player, kind of like Fossilman. Benny even bought Fossilman sunglasses to wear for good luck while playing online.
After his multi-table tournament win, Benny grinded out a couple thousand dollars from small stakes no-limit hold'em games. Everything was working well for Benny, so he quit his job and moved to Vegas to play poker professionally.
It was in Vegas where Benny's luck took a turn for the worse. Between playing six-way football parlays and enjoying $3.99 steak dinners (which was later raised to $5.99, much to Benny's dismay), Benny was beginning to lose at poker.
Step One: Denial
Benny's first step in his journey to a realization that he is not good at poker was denial. Shortly after turning pro, Benny began logging his sessions on PokerTips's very own Check Your Bets. An interesting thing happened to Benny's Check Your Bets database: all of his winning sessions were recorded, but somehow, Benny failed to record many of his losing sessions. He rationalized this by claiming that he would have won if not for all the fish sucking out on him. I mean, why log a losing session that would have been a winner if that idiot hadn't hit his flush draw, right?
As these "idiots" seemed to continue getting "lucky" against Benny, he entered the second stage in his realization.
Step Two: Anger
Normally a mild-mannered gentleman, Benny's frustration with his poker woes began to boil over. When he first started his professional career, Benny would sarcastically say "well played" or "nice hand" when a fish sucked out on him. Eventually this progressed into full-blown berating. Benny found himself openly calling his opponents "morons" and "dim-witted idiots". His fury would only be compounded when these people would smile and say, "thanks for the money," while stacking the chips that formerly belonged to Benny.
Benny soon stopped playing online poker altogether, due to his firm belief that it was rigged against him. He was also very suspicious of the dealing at the Bellagio, Mirage, Treasure Island, and other MGM-owned properties. He seemed to be ok with the dealing at the Harrah's-owned properties, but had his doubts about the swing shift workers.
Step Three: Bargaining
With his bankroll in a dire situation, Benny made a pact with the "poker gods" (whom he found himself citing regularly now): if he promised to take poker more seriously by reading some books, they would help his luck turn around.
For several weeks after this, Benny spent most of his time railbirding the WSOP and reading Super System. He even got Ivey's autograph during one the breaks! "That Brunson is a genius," thought Benny, "I'll just start semi-bluffing all-in when I have a flush draw! No one will suspect a thing." And thus began Benny's play-it-by-the-book saga at the poker tables. He kept various books and magazines with him at the table in case he needed a quick reference. One of Benny's favorite guides was Howard Lederer's starting hand guidelines. Benny took his "work" so seriously that he bought an iPod to drown out the table chatter. What was on his iPod, you ask? Ocean sounds to keep him focused on pot odds.
Apparently Benny's pact with the poker gods wasn't working. Even though he had memorized Phil Hellmuth's Play Poker Like The Pros, Benny continued losing at the tables.
Step Four: Depression
All the vodka tonics and lap dances in Vegas couldn't get Benny's mind off of poker. He read all the books. He memorized all the starting hand guidelines. He wore the right sunglasses. What had he done to deserve going broke? Why him? Didn't the poker gods know that he's a professional?
Benny constantly talked about his bad beats at the table. His opponents kept on getting lucky against him, but he wasn't unlucky enough to win the bad beat jackpot. The one thing that brought him solice was frequenting poker discussion forums and writing about his terrible bad beats. Benny was confident that other serious poker players took pity on him based on the posts he wrote.
After months of sulking and pissing away the rest of his life savings on teaser lines and private dances, Benny was left with one undeniable conclusion... poker is not for him.
Step Five: Acceptance
After moving back home, Benny decided to get his life back together. He began going to church. He came to regard poker, and gambling in general, as sinful. If he, a professional poker player, can't win at poker, then who can? Benny shared his story with his gambler friends. He even convinced a few of them to stop playing poker online after ensuring them it was rigged. When the U.S. passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, Benny wrote his Congressman praising him for taking a moral stand against gambling.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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