It's Tuff for the Fish Sometimes

Published On: 11 June 2008 / Modified: 29 June 2018
Created By:
Antanas "Tony G" Guoga

Following on from my last blog which focused on bad beats and my own personal reaction to them, I want to draw attention to one of the most celebrated exponents of the bad beat story and to the poker community's reaction to him.

You may think I'm talking about Mike Matusow, who picked up the nickname The Mouth through no accident, but from his propensity to fire trash-talk at his tablemates, especially after a raggedy beat. His tilty blowups and insulting demeanor have become the stuff of legend, and he is certainly a poker character worthy of a blog entry.

But no.

Perhaps you feel I am about to shine the spotlight on The Poker Brat, the one and only Phil Hellmuth. A guy who holds himself in such high esteem, he makes bizarre claims such as "I can dodge bullets, baby," and who leaps upon perceived injustices against himself with what can only be described as masochistic pleasure, bemoaning his opponent's awful play, culminating in himself being put in such a position of dominance in a hand that only the vagaries of fortune can serve to undermine his superiority.

But no.

Mike Matusow
Not talkin' 'bout this guy!

Instead I want to turn your attention to a man who I believe eclipses the above luminaries of the bad beat world. A man who not just epitomizes the figure of a bad-beat-telling poker player, but someone who embodies many of the characteristics of the classical tragic hero.

A man trying to better himself, but one who is destined to fail.

A man with courage, and a degree of self-awareness, an ability to communicate his inner frustrations with the viewing public. A man on a mission, but a mission whose goals will never reach fruition due to innate failings, some of which he acknowledges, some of which he remains blissfully ignorant.

Who, you ask, who is this man so worthy of our pity and close scrutiny?

I Give You tuff_fish

As soon as tuff_fish released a set of videos of himself playing poker in order to get feedback from better players, he achieved instant fame status.

News of these golden videos spread like wildfire throughout the poker fraternity with his name on the lips of any online player ever to frequent a poker forum, or speak with clued-up fellow online players.

tuff_fish has the remarkable gift of a singular lack of ability married to an occasionally highly penetrating self-awareness, and an ability to communicate all this effectively via his archaic and often unintentionally amusing phraseology, much of which has become the stuff of legend.

Here are a collection of his finest moments, in reverse order, for your delectation.

Warning: Some of the below language is not suitable for children, or adults of a frail disposition!

Phil Hellmuth
Makes Hellmuth look agreeable!

5. tuff_fish : "8!?! ME TO GODDAMN TEARS"

tuff_fish, already on tilt, finds a big pair in pocket queens. Desperate to turn a losing night round, he begs and pleads with a guy at his table to shove on him ... and his wish comes true!

Does this make the big man happy?

Watch and find out - the results are extraordinary!

Click here to view.


4. tuff_fish : "Why the **!* *!**!?*?* *>?**?*?*! **!?!* does this happen every *!**?**** time!"

tuff_fish finds himself in good shape - holding a pair of threes in the hole, he flops a set.

Happy days!

But wait, he's slow-played it. An innocuous-looking card rolls off on the river. That can't be a threat, surely? tuff_fish thinks otherwise.

Is he right?

Another classic moment ensues ...

Click here to view.


3. tuff_fish : "Jesus goddamn ***?*!**!*? C**K!"

A slow burner, but tuff_fish is again in good shape here. He has a flush! He laughs dismissively at the chance his opponent may have a better flush.

What would happen if he did, though?

Click here to view.


2. tuff_fish Musical Tribute. So you had a bad day?

A collection of tuff fish's finest bad beats, packaged together and set to music. Don't worry that it's Travis playing. Even if they do nothing else of note in their lives, they have made a worthy addition to online culture, the song providing the perfect and most poignant backdrop to an assortment of amazing tuff_fish moments.

Simply beautiful.

Click here to view.


1. tuff_fish : "I can lose another buyin. God Bless America. Sonofa**!!***?*!*, sonofa*!?**, HACHCHCHCKCHCHCHHACHCHCHCHCCHA....HOLY MACKEREL"

Perhaps the defining moment of tuff_fish's video career. We join tuff_fish already beginning to tilt - always his most amusing time - and things are about to get worse.

One hand plays out with an unfortunate result, and tuff_fish is so thrown on tilt by the latest bad beat, he curses himself into a frenzy of incomprehensible epithets.

Allegedly thousands of online poker players changed their ring tones to this, so powerful was its effect on their collective psyche.

Listen to a classic slice of tuff_fish.

Click here to view.


Work through these magic moments and then just try to deny that tuff_fish deserves his place amongst the pantheon of tragic heroes.

Achilles, Macbeth, Willy Loman - move aside.

A new man has stepped up to the plate and when he inevitably falls off the pedestal, you'd better cover your ears, because it won't be pretty!


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steven taylor 2010-11-26 05:11:14

the song is by daniel powter called had a bad day you retard not travis who are actually a decent band stick to your slipknot

Transfluminem 2008-06-11 15:01:00

I remember Tuff fish posting his first vids on pokertube, as a matter of fact I was one of the first to watch it, since I spend 24/7 on that site at the time. It seems like ages ago. His creaky voice, not angry in the first vids, but after he started getting more into it, f.e. he started multitabling and playing at higher stakes, he started to get angrier and angrier although it was obvious to even bad players he was being outplayed completely. Ah, those were the days.


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