How great players won't make you see red
You might think ultimate recognition in poker comes from an EPT main event win, or perhaps a WCOOP win, a SCOOP, or even a Sunday Million - something big that is universally respected by your peers. And you'd be right. Nothing speaks of talent more than succeeding in these toughest of arenas.
But there's another measure, unknown to most players but used extensively by the press, which, as the WSOP gets up to full speed and the new season of the EPT looms beyond, evaluates players more bluntly than any leader board points, or global ranking system. It may be informal, and entirely down to personal interpretation, but it is typically the final arbiter on who has what it takes to succeed in this game, and who is considered a mere flash in the pan.
I'm talking of course of the red squiggly line underneath an unrecognised word on a Microsoft Office Word document.
Let's face it, among those of us who write about the game this is the decider. Unbeknownst to the players themselves, no greater honour can be (privately at least) bestowed upon them than having their name right-clicked on, and "Add to Dictionary" selected form the drop down menu.
It can often take years. There's that guy "Allaypapa" winning again. He shouts a lot, but is he really all that good? Perhaps I'll leave him for now, you think. No, I'll "Ignore" him. That's at least some recognition.
This can go on for years before you realise that it's time to admit that after an EPT win, a high roller final table and a runner-up finish in a $100K event it's time to admit that you should take an interest in spelling this guy's name right for the foreseeable future.
This is the difference between an established player and a "red line" pro, a test of natural prejudice that the creators of MS Office never really intended when they loaded up a dictionary to their product and sold a copy to a member of the poker press. And it is prejudice, because while I hate to say it, that well known player I once saw abuse a dealer still has his name underlined in red.
Of course it also applies to usernames, which are rarely anything other than a mesh-mash of every conceivable symbol found on a "qwerty" keyboard. My computer, after vigorous complaint, has since accepted that the capitalised Y at the end of "ElkY" is totally normal. Others have followed. In what other world would combinations like "Cal42688", "Str8$$$Homey" or "lasagnaaammm" ever be considered part of the standard lexicon?
So as you can see, it's a fool proof system, an honest reflection of the reverence in which a player is held by those who are fortunate enough to get a close up view, and who pay tribute to them in this small but meaningful way.
Unless their name is difficult to spell. In which case they get "added to dictionary" immediately.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.