I know - I've been a bit down on the male poker population as of late. And I figure it's time to give props to those who deserve it. There really are some good guys out there on the felt.
It's a bit hard to spot them, these nice poker guys, because they're all endowed with these brilliant poker faces that sometimes just make you want to run away and hide. Sometimes though, they'll crack you a little smile or give you a cordial little nod.
With that being said, let's get down to business. Here are five of the nicest guys in poker:
Thor Hansen is not a degenerate gambler. He knows who to play, what to play, when to play, and when to quit.
This guy is always in a good mood. And he has those friendly little wrinkles around his eyes that get all scrunched up when he smiles. Even when he's getting chastised by Mike Matusow, he keeps it light and shrugs it off. He always asks how you're doing as you slip by him, scrawling down illegible notes, and he sounds like he actually cares how you're doing. He asks about other players, how they're doing, not because he wants to know how far ahead he is - but because he cares about how those players are doing.
Currently he is still chipping high in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament, and he has already made the money
Sure, this guy drinks a lot of beer and uses the word "baby" superfluously, but he's not a mean drunk and he is not derogatory. He saunters into the tournament room in his leather and jeri-curl juiced mullet and you can't help but smile when you look at him. He'll shoot you the two-fingered gun and say hey even if he doesn't know who you are; he probably thinks he does know you and is just covering his bases.
Apart from poker, this guy's also a family man, by his own admission. He loves to be at home. He never yells or loses his cool at the table, and often he'll coerce his opponents into a friendly drinking fest, as was the case at this year's World Championship Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo final table with Eli Elezra.
He's the legend of the legends, and probably the most recognizable face when it comes to poker. He's 84 years old but age doesn't stop him - he plays in as many events as his son Todd, and his fans always come out to watch him.
And he doesn't mind it one bit. He fulfills all requests for autographs, poses for pictures, and shakes every hand. During one tournament, a fan called out to him from the rail, and he got up, hobbled up to his crutches, and slowly made his way over, just to sign a t-shirt. He doesn't take his fame for granted.
Unlike other players who may have been jaded from the industry after playing for so many years, it seems that Doyle maintains an air of decency and control. He even has a master's degree in administrative education. How cool would it be to be sent down to Principal Doyle's office?
He is the pinnacle of poker class. Every day, Mr. Luske gets decked out in a dapper suit and hits the felt with his fellow sweat-shirt wearing, cowboy hat sporting players. It's just nice to see someone who has that much respect for the game.
Or maybe he just really likes nice clothes. Whatever the reason, Luske is one of the most entertaining men in poker. He sings, he jokes, he really doesn't stop talking - and sometimes it's hard to understand what he's saying but as long as you smile and nod, it's okay because he's never really talking about anything serious.
Danny Negreanu is a fun guy. He raps for his tablemates, speaks with a fake Brooklyn accent and is just an all-around nutty guy. Sometimes he'll chase you down the hallway, yelling "Whatcha doin'? Where ya goin'?" until you finally turn around and pay attention to him, at which point he'll continue talking to you in the same loud voice, as if you're twenty feet away even though there's only three feet of space between you.
And, he's a vegan. Yup, this guy doesn't eat animals, so he's gotta be a good guy. He even invited us over to his house to hang out for an interview, but unfortunately had to cancel because he made it to the final table of an event.
So there are nice guys in poker, and these are only a few of the many. Some of them will even smile for pictures, giving the poker-face a momentary break; these shots are money!
And if you really can't find a nice guy at the WSOP, just hang out at the final tables. The winner will almost always crack you a smile and thumbs-up sign.
Sometimes, money really can buy happiness.
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