My old friend Falafel was profiled in the May 13 issue of The New Yorker. I just heard about it. My first thought was, I can’t believe I haven’t read it! My second thought was, I can’t believe I didn’t write it! The guy who did, Raffi Khatchadourian, did a nice job, judging by the intro, which is promising. Unfortunately the full article isn’t available without a subscription and I haven’t been able to track down a copy yet.
The intro notes that “Falafel is either a purist, or unable to master poker, or too lazy to really try, or all of the above.” I’d say that’s about right, with a lean towards too lazy to really try. We played a series of heads-up matches in Thailand. We would go into a café and get out the cards. We didn’t have chips, so I kept track of the pot and our stacks on a notepad. I could have cheated without Falafel noticing or caring, but I never did. At the end he had a slight edge in our encounters.
We were both terrible and sometimes the better poker players would watch and laugh at us. Once, Alex (my boss and Falafel’s frenemy) and Peter Eastgate walked over as we were playing. I raised my button with ace-jack, and Falafel went all-in. In general Fafafel was very passive and rarely bluffed. We were probably like 20 big blinds deep. I tanked forever and eventually folded. I was still on the level of trying to guess what people had, not thinking about ranges or strategies…or, what was more relevant, that Falafel would want to impress the kibitzers. He triumphantly showed king-deuce, or something. Alex snorted and said he would have snap-called. Eastgate, more charitably, murmured, “It’s probably a call.” I eventually learned poker, but Falafel never did.