OK, so at this point we know that Alex Rodriguez regularly played poker, usually for a lot of money and with some shady people, but one thing I haven’t heard addressed is whether he’s actually any good. Until yesterday, that is.
I was watching a recent episode of NBC’s late-night show “Poker After Dark” on my DVR when the players at the $100,000 buy-in table began sharing their experiences playing in cash games with Rodriguez.
Their talking about him was purely a coincidence, since the episode was taped months before the various allegations surfaced this week, but I thought the discussion was interesting. You can watch the episode online, but here’s a transcript of the Rodriguez-related banter that occurred as part of some more general chatter about high-stakes mixed games:
Mike Matusow: I heard A-Rod was playing $50-$100 no-limit.
Jean-Robert Bellande: Yeah, we’ll add no-limit [to the mix] for the right guy.
Michael Mizrachi: Does he play mixed [games] or just no-limit?
Mike Matusow: No-limit.
Jean-Robert Bellande: We just play no-limit with him. And then we just switch right back to the mix as soon as he gets up [from the table].
Chris Ferguson: How does he play?
Jean-Robert Bellande: I thought he played fine. I wouldn’t say he plays great, I wouldn’t say he plays awful.
Michael Mizrachi: If he plays fine, that’s really good.
Roughly translated: Rodriguez plays strictly no-limit hold ’em, but the professional poker players are willing to abandon the other games in their usual “mix” to accommodate his action. So while Jean-Robert Bellande says “he played fine” the fact that high-stakes pros are willing to completely alter the games being played in order to keep him at the table tells you plenty about whether Rodriguez can hold his own or not. He’s the fish.
And there’s no shame in that. I’m pretty much obsessed with poker and would probably get my clock cleaned if I sat down at the table in question, with the main difference being that Rodriguez can actually afford to sit at a $50-$100 no-limit table and probably doesn’t mind dusting off $50,000 in the name of having a good time playing with the big boys. After all, he makes about $200,000 per day at his real job.