Aggressiveness: 8
Looseness: 6
Short-handed: 6
Limit: 6
No-limit: 7
Tournaments: 7
Side games: 6
Steam control: 7
Against weak players: 7
Against strong players: 6

Best game: No-limit hold’em tournaments
Weakness: Still inexperienced, but improving with every event he enters. After the dotcom company at which he worked folded in 2003, Joey (my stepson, whom I raised since the age of six) asked me if I thought he could make money playing poker.

I assured him that I could have taught him how to win at poker, but I had wanted him to be successful at other things. We rarely played cards at home when he was young, and he had never played poker before, but I told him if he followed my advice I would help him.

I told him to get some poker tutorial software, read some beginning poker books, and practice playing on the Internet. He dove into the project, reading and playing full time. I answered questions, but most of his knowledge came from hard work. He moved up from play money games to quickly become a winning $10-$20 hold’em player after getting beaten back down a few times. He played some small tournaments and did fairly well.

We discussed tournament strategy and I told him he should enter most of the hold’em events at the 2004 WSOP. He thought he would be throwing away money, but I was convinced that he was already better than 80% of the tournament field. He ended up making two televised final tables. I made the mistake of advising him to be more aggressive at the final table, and he didn’t exactly understand what I meant. He changed from what had been a successful style for him and finished a disappointing 8th in the pot-limit hold’em and 5th in the limit hold’em.

Amusing anecdote

At the final table Joey called a raise with Ace-Jack offsuit before the flop, and then called a bet on the flop even though he didn’t connect. He got knocked out when an Ace came on the turn and he got all his money in against Ace-King. When we talked about the hand a few minutes after he left the table, I told him that his play was pretty “brain-damaged,” an expression borrowed from Bill Cosby’s routine on children. We often use this expression without meaning it seriously. Unfortunately, Joey was still miked up, and ESPN aired the comment.

Since then, many people have come up to Joey and asked him if I am always that mean to him. Of course, he deadpans that I used to beat him senseless when he was a child.

Title: A Boy Named Sue
Artist: Johnny Cash
Year: 1969

Reason for this song choice

Joey often questioned why I was so rough on him as he was growing up. I wanted him to be prepared for whatever life might bring his way. I think now he understands my reasoning a little better.