Alex Rodriguez plays high-stakes poker, but is he any good?

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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.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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