Once, way back in the day, you were a scrub, a newbie, the lowest of the low. You lost all the time, and played on despite. You played horrible hands, made awful plays, stuck like a barnacle to players you looked up to, used the “all in” play on every pair of twos, and still persevered to become a real contender. Now what do you do with the people who do the same to you?
Every game has these kinds of people, and every solid player, and every well-liked local has run across what seems like more than their fair share of these type of people. They’re the type who’s always going to come running as soon as they see you and tells stories of your greatness to all of their friends. The kind of person who will interrupt you right in the middle of the hand to tell you about his epic plays, or to ask advice on the simplest of decisions. They always want to meet up for lunch after the tournament so that you can discuss and dissect each and every nuance of each and every game. And worst yet, they don’t know a damn thing about playing good poker.
I’ve seen a lot of people be mean to their local scrubs. I’ve been mean to some myself. One in particular who I was mean to has since gone on to become a Pro player who cashes in regularly on the WSOP, while I sit here writing my little memoirs for AC. Where is the justice in that?
Scrubs are bad players, typically beginners, though there are some lifelong scrubs out there who just can’t seem to graduate. They make awful plays, bother you incessantly if they think that you’re good, and don’t understand the value of their cards. Sure, you can guarantee yourself some free money out of these people whenever you see them, but I suggest taking a slightly different approach. If you get a “barn” who you just can’t seem to shake, take them under your wing, and teach them. The annoyance you’re going to put with is a small price to pay for some of the potential benefits you can reap from them.
Scrubs are good for you because these people will be your loyalest poker buddies. They are almost like teammates in a way, and will always share their insights about how other players play, the tells they pick up, and the types of ways you can throw them off their game. Training their poker instincts works tremendously in your favor when this happens, because you know that they learned most of what they know from you, so you can always take what they say as useful. Scrubs are good for the game because they are the lifeblood of poker. Without new players, local tournaments would die out and there would be nobody to play with. Do you want to sit in your room shuffling cards by yourself? I thought so.
When you teach a scrub how to be a decent player, they’ll be more than willing to repay you. I’ve gotten multiple rides to tournaments from my scrubs, gotten some incredibly detailed and insightful information about other players, and made a lot of long-time friends. These people may be inferior players for the time being, but that doesn’t mean that they are inferior people like many players treat them. Eventually they will go away if you do that, and it means less players for you to be able to play with, and you’ll see lower prize funds, and fewer tournaments as a result.
The thing about scrubs is that they are eager to learn, and if you teach them, they’ll bring a fresh perspective once they reach a certain level of credibility. My “poker team” was built upon a foundation of former scrubs, and we eventually taught them enough to build one of the area’s most dominant groups. In fact, of the fourteen people who were at one point or another associated with our team, all but five of them were originally our scrubby disciples.
So be nice to your scrubs, and spend the time to teach them what they need to learn. And think of them more like a status symbol than an annoyance; after all, they picked you because you’re good.