Poker: Card player's canny claim

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
WHO was the greatest poker player who ever lived? Would you believe Charlie Esslinger from Huntsville, Alabama? No, neither would I.

The claim is made in an article in the Card Player, a magazine devoted to poker, published in Las Vegas and now available in this country. Card Player is edited by a redoubtable poker enthusiast, June Field, who signs off her editorial column: 'God, I love this job.'

A recent feature described the late Charlie Esslinger as a player who always kept a low profile, did not play in tournaments or for high limits, and was so good he could win at will. He is said to have played every day for four years in a private game and never lost - which is hard to credit, and statistically out of the question.

The point about Esslinger however, was that he stuck to low limit play, and did not venture into the high stakes games of the professional circuit, so claims about his supremacy must be qualified.

His psychological tactics, though carried out with good manners, seem to have been awesome. Here is a play which sounds almost surreal. After a raising and re-raising battle against one other player, the betting comes to an end, and Esslinger tells his opponent to take the pot.

The man, naturally enough, wants to see Esslinger's hand, as he is sure he has caught Esslinger bluffing. He grabs Esslinger's cards and turns them over. Esslinger has the winning hand] And of course as 'cards speak', it was he who took the pot.

There was no answer to his unpredictable play. In the main he plays tight, then suddenly emerged with a rubbish hand to take a huge pot. Or after winning for several months on end, he would throw a 'poker party' by drinking, playing his cards face up, and raising and capping every hand to the end. In this way, he would blow off as much as pounds 15,000. Next day he would sit down in the game again as if nothing had happened.

The Card Player is available on subscription (13 issues a year for pounds 39) from: 1 Carlton Court, Stoke-in-Teignhead, Devon TQ12 4QH.

Comments