2007 World Series: Anticipation of tilt

The worst kind of tilt is not the kind that strikes you immediately, punches you in the kidneys, and the runs away. It's the kind you can feel coming, starting in your intestines, working up through your stomach, and eventually out of your mouth in a stream of, as my grandma used to say, curses and bad words. It's worse because you can taste it coming, a sick bile of anger laced with impending internal violence.

I bring it up because of a guy named Ishak Noyan.

I first saw Noyan last week when he was heads-up with Team PokerStars' Victor Ramdin in the $1,500 Limit Hold'em shootout. Over the course of the marathon two-man match, there were times I saw an ugly rainstorm of anger building over both men's heads. I was uncertain at times whether anyone in the area was safe. Both men are big, formidable, and could pound me and my brother into the ground at the same time with two hammer fists. A battle royale between them would be the stuff of UFC matches, only without the octagon.

It ended as peacefully as it could when Noyan defeated Ramdin and went on to place fifth at the final table for more than $30,000. That prize nearly tied Noyan's biggest cash ever, his first place finish in the 2005 Pot Limit Omaha event at the Swedish Poker Championship.

I didn't expect too see Noyan again so soon, and frankly, was afraid to. The man has steam in his eyes--the kind of steam that burns you without you knowing it. Today, as I walked past the first quadrant in the Amazon Room, I saw those eyes again. He sat at one of the most photographed tables in the room. And he looked angry.


© Neil Stoddart


Why he looked angry, I don't know. Maybe, I thought, that's just his poker face. After all, he had a ton of chips and was running well at a table that featured Robert Varkoni, Jesus, and Melissa Hayden.

After checking in on Bernard Lee (who was running pretty well himself), I wandered back by to Noyan's table. Something was amiss. The board read QTJQ and there were a bunch of chips in the middle. The floor had been called and Noyan looked like he was ready to rip the felt off the table and eat it.

There had been a lot of confusion about the sequence of bets, calls, and all-ins. Thinking Hayden had folded, Noyan opened his hand to show JJ for jacks full of queens. Hayden folded (AQ apparently), but the guy who was all-in kept his hand down until the floor arrived. The question, apparently, was whether Noyan's hand was dead or alive and whether the all-in player was really all-in. It was a bit of a mess, but from all indications it looked like if the TD decided Noyan's hand was live that he was going to win a monster pot. The TD listened to the situation and made the fair ruling: Mr. All-In was, in fact, All-In and Noyan's hand was live.

That's when Mr. All-In rolled over QJ for queens full of jacks. I ducked for cover and waited for Noyan to kill somebody.

No violence erupted, but Noyan looked dangerous. He walked away, running his hands over a now-sweating forehead. When he returned to the table, he played two hands before pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and walking away. He was gone for five minutes before coming back.

He was still sweating.

He pulled two packets of tobacco from a small canister and shoved them in his upper lip. The PokerStars qualifier was still above average in chips, but the look in his eye made me wonder how safe we all were.

For his sake, and the sake of everyone in the room, I hope Noyan is the kind of guy who uses tilt for good instead of evil. Otherwise...well, I just don't want to think about it.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in