WSOP 2013: The nature of The Beast

The world of sports is no stranger to nicknames, based on the prowess of an athletic individual. But is it wrong to give yourself a nickname, rather than wait for someone to bestow one upon you? It usually is.

Former England soccer player Paul Ince did this, asking team mates to refer to him as "The Guvnor" which did little to ingratiate himself with his colleagues. But that pales into insignificance when compared to basketball's Ron Artest, who decided on a modest name change to Metta World Peace - far better than a mere nickname, which after all can be derogatory as well as complimentary. So Mr World Peace changed his name to one that could be considered both, and we've all lived in harmony ever since.

Poker is hardly excluded from these occasional delusions of grandeur. Some names, given by others, are warranted - "The Poker Brat", "Kid Poker", "Miami", etc. Others, adopted unilaterally, less so.

Actually, I like to think Elmar Dernberger is the exception to this rule. At the poker table the Austrian refers to himself in the third person as "The Wolf". It is so ridiculous as to be endearing, particularly with the cheroot hanging from the corner of his mouth.
Not so "The Beast".

"The Beast" is Emad Alabsi, who, after a pot against Todd Ablowitz, reminded everyone at his table that this is what people call him.

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Not so scary: The Beast

"That's awesome," said Michael Shelton, apparently unaware that "The Beast" wasn't being ironic.

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Michael Shelton

"You can Google me," said Beast, irritated. "That's my name, 'The Beast'."

Ablowitz then found himself in the unusual position of trying to placate The Beast. "I'm not questioning that's your nickname," he said, although perhaps someone should have.

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Todd Ablowitz

Spotting me, "The Beast" made sure I had his name down so I could look it up. I had down "T-H-E" when he said his name was Alabsi. He said it twice to make sure I had it.

If this had caused any tension it had gone when I passed by the table an hour later. I'd looked up "The Beast", who was no slouch having amassed winnings of more than $800,000 over the years. He was laughing with Ablowitz and Shelton after a set over set hand, which had benefitted Ablowitz. So hey, if he wants to be known as The Beast, maybe that's okay after all.

Then they were all listening to Team PokerStars Pro Leo Margets who was explaining why people in Barcelona are less likely to speak English as those in other parts of Spain (it is all down to foreign films being shown dubbed, rather than shown with subtitles).

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Gaaaaa: Leo Margets

She then won a pot, watched by a Spanish fan who made a kind of "Gaaaaa" noise at the sight of her.

I'm not sure how you would dub that.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter. Pictures courtesy of Poker Photo Archive.