Sick of the Hate

So, first off, I have to say that was a pretty awesome final table. I mean, is there a better way to start the WSOP than a four-way battle between Andy Bloch, Kathy Liebert, Nenad Medic and Mike Sexton? You have;

  • One of the best tournament players in the world, fresh off a 2nd place finish at NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championships and a 3rd place finish in Full Tilt’s $25,000 head-up championship looking for his first bracelet with a massive chip lead.
  • The winningest female tournament player of all-time
  • A 25-year old MMA-looking Canadian (!) who many were calling the best no-limit cash game player in the world ever before this final table made folks pay attention…again.
  • One of poker’s truest ambassadors, a man who loved playing so much he set it free to host the WPT.

All four players had won $1,000,000 tournaments before they ever made it to 2008, and they all played some remarkable poker. While I’m obviously pumped that a Canuck won (Canada 1, world 0), I have to feel badly for Andy Bloch, a man who always gives an answer when I have a question, who’s well-liked throughout the industry and who I’d have especially loved to have seen won his first bracelet. The fact he hasn’t was so ludicrous to me that I completely forgot to include him in the article I posted the link to yesterday regarding the best players to have never won jewelry.

Bloch was the victim of some internet vitriol for some questionable plays in the FTP $25K, but nothing like what Kathy has been forced to endure over the years. Smart, sweet, Kathy is a no-bullshit lady whose endured and thrived in a damn tough field for women to do so in.

The placing her gives her around $4.7 million in tournament winnings and it’s about time the insecure internet fan boys shut the hell up and showed one hell of a player some respect.

Annie Duke once told me about a choice encounter at a Montana casino. This was in her early playing days and she was still learning the finer points and sitting with a group of more experienced men, she got busted. “Don’t worry honey” one of the brainiacs shrugged “you can go across the street, spread your legs and make it back.” Nice.

The point is to tell you what it’s like for a woman dealing with what’s mostly been a male-dominated industry.

Like it’s not tough enough to just win at poker, women have to do it while fighting the pressures of archaic biases, chauvinistic stupidity and the overabundance of testosterone that comes out whenever there’s a woman to impress or something to be fought over.

Like guys, seriously, do you not want women appreciating what you do? Personally, I want to see more ladies in our midst since all the men who might be interested are already playing and fish are needed to feed the sharks. Posting crap about strangers isn’t exactly going to help in that regard.

I can’t say I’m that close with Kathy. I’ve been there for a lot of her successes and interviewed her repeatedly and she’s always been nothing but a lady. Where a lot of my bustouts are angry and (excusably) a little classless, she was the opposite after she busted out tonight;

“Most of the players were excellent players.

There were only 1 or 2 guys I didn’t know and they were internet geniuses. Obviously it was a very tough final table. I mean, you always want to get first but to come in eighth in chips and move up and get third is pretty good. I knew I had a shot to win it, so it’s bittersweet, but I feel good about the performance.”

No whining, no propping herself up, no defaming opponents. This is the way a professional gives an interview, praising good work on the part of others and showing some great sportsmanship on the way out the door.

This isn’t a person deserving of hate. Maybe if the people who express it for her so often were to actually meet the lady, they’d figure out that they’ve been acting like idiots for far too long. Conversely, they may just need to get laid and stop taking out their inadequacies on other people.

Congrats to Nenad, condolences to Andy (though, winning a half-mil isn’t too bad) and congrats and condolences to Kathy. She’s a hell of a player and like she said, 8th to 3rd on this kind of table is a pretty great showing.