If you've ever sat down at a poker table - even for a few minutes - you know just how wide a range of characters you'll find in this game.
Poker writer Lee Davy has met his fair share over his years playing in and covering the major (and minor) poker tours and shares his personal reflections on some of his favorite characters in this ongoing series.
By Lee Davy
Stuart Rutter rhymes with ‘nutter’ and that’s exactly what I thought he was when I met him in person for the first time.
You don’t always get what it says on the tin, though, and the 30-year old from Jasper Carrot country is one of life’s wonderful examples of that.
I used to think he was one of the biggest stars in poker and I guess it’s this Little Englander approach that I have. I don’t seem to see much beyond my own tiny little island, and when it came to poker I thought he owned it.
I would pick up the free poker magazines in my local casino and read them whilst losing my wages, and Rutter would be in all of them. He was a strategy expert and a sponsored pro for Grosvenor Casinos.
He was big time.
Then I started writing for some of the same magazines. Now I was also "big time."
The first time I ever met him was in the Grosvenor Casino in Blackpool. It was 2010 and I was playing in the £1,000 Grosvenor United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (GUKPT).
I remember thinking he was a lanky string of piss. I also remember thinking he was a scruffy bastard, until years later I realized everyone in poker was the same. He also had headphones around his neck. He never once wore them.
It was as if he had ants in his pants. He would fold his hand and dart around the room to talk to someone. He was always laughing, and the people he was talking too were always laughing. Rutter does this to you. He’s infectious.
I found myself seated on a table next to him and some of the players were ribbing him about his strategy articles. I kept looking at him, hoping he would recognize my photo from the magazine and talk to me. I think he thought I was either attracted to him or a serial killer of some sort.
He didn’t have a clue who I was.
A few years later and I would head to Las Vegas for my first-ever World Series of Poker (WSOP). My home for the next six weeks would be a mansion - equipped with a butler no less - and one of my housemates was none other than Stuart Rutter.
Stuart Rutter is Not Joe Hart
I liked him instantly.
I started to think of him as a Duracell Bunny. You know, the advert where all these fluffy bunnies are dying because their batteries are running out but this Duracell Bunny just kept on, and on, and on, and on.
He was also sharp, highly intelligent and had a bag full of tricks that could have easily handed him a place on stage. I believe he has some very posh type of mathematics degree picked up from Harvard or something like that.
I remember him once getting us into a club by telling the bouncer he was the Manchester City and England keeper Joe Hart. He doesn’t look nor sound anything like him, but his confidence did the trick.
There was a time when we all decided to head to the Green Valley Ranch to watch Steel Panther and the doorman wouldn’t let a few of us in because we didn’t have our passports with us.
Stuart took this rebuff particularly hard and declared, “Let’s take this budget casino down!”
Take This Budget Casino Down
Budget. Rutter called everything budget. And so we followed him to the roulette wheel eager to see how he was going to "take this budget casino down."
“How much is your biggest bet?” asked Rutter.
“$50,000 sir,” came the reply.
“Well I will have $500 on red,” said Rutter before handing the croupier a pocketful of sticky notes.
“RED! RED! RED! RED!” shouted Rutter.
‘RED! RED! RED! RED!” shouted the gang.
The ball spun around the wheel and Rutter was bouncing up and down shouting “RED!” at the top of his voice.
"Black Four,” said the croupier.
“YEAH!!!! BLACK! BLACK! BLACK!” shouted Rutter before walking towards the bar and ordering several bottles of champagne. Bottles that he never ended up paying for, probably because all of his money was now in the coffers of that budget casino.
The WSOP Can Turn You Into Dust
Vegas was tough for Rutter.
On the outside he gave off the impression that he was a party animal, but if you cut him open fluff would fall everywhere. He was nothing more than a big cuddly teddy bear.
I could tell that he missed his partner Gemma and that the difficulties of living a poker lifestyle had created its scars. He much preferred to stay indoors and grind online than head to the Rio to actually do what he came here to do.
He wasn’t alone in that regard.
He had finished third the year before in a Shootout event for six figures and so he started the series with confidence anew, but over time it waned. The WSOP is the grandest stage of them all, but it can wear you down and turn you into dust.
He played most of the mixed games with limited success. It was a losing trip and before it the Series ended he had already left to fly home to his beloved Midlands.
The house was a lot quieter.
The Duracell Bunny Mugging Me Off
I would next bump into him in Estonia where he had turned up with Gemma to play in a High Roller event.
The three of us went out for the night and I learned more about him during that night than I did for the whole time I spent with him in Vegas.
We were in this bar surrounded by college girls when one asked me what I did for a living.
“I am a writer,” I said.
“Interesting … what do you write?” she asked.
“I have my own blog …”
Before I could finish the young girl exploded with laughter.
“A writer … and you own a blog … a writer! Don’t make me laugh. Ooh … look at the little writer with his little bloggy-woggy.”
Suddenly, I was being torn apart by an 18-year old student. I was devastated.
I looked at Stuart for some help and he was rolling around on the floor in tears. The Duracell Bunny was even mugging me off.
Stuart Rutter Makes a Difference
When he isn’t laughing at me whilst being verbally abused by Estonian college kids who look like shot putters he is a Samaritan, as is his mother.
That’s inspirational to me.
He gives his time to help people by lending them his ear. Many of these people have reached a point where they believe life is pointless. They pick up the phone and there is Stuart.
A man making a difference in the world.
He also gives up a lot of his time to travel to prisons around the UK to help convicts learn listening skills that will help them with their rehabilitation. He also has plans to travel to Ghana to help in one of the toughest prison networks there is.
It won’t be the first time Rutter has been to Ghana - he once helped out by teaching school kids. Never judge a book by its cover.
A lot of people in poker are faking it. It’s the nature of the beast. But just peel back some of those old yellow pages and you will be surprised at the beauty that lies within.
Tales and stories that you would never believe fitted with the plot you have already created in your mind.
When I first met Stuart Rutter I used to think he was big time. I still do.