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Epic slowroll, or epic misunderstanding?

by Darryll Fish |  Published: Apr 07, '15

As most of you probably heard/saw, there was a hand that took place today at the final table of the Irish Open that has caused quite an ruckus in the poker community. In case you somehow haven’t seen it, here is the hand in question:

I’m guessing the first thing that came to your mind after seeing this was something along the lines of “wow what an asshole!” or “oh man what a brutal slowroll!” etc. Clearly, the commentators (who, in my opinion, were out of line with their remarks) and the rest of the players at the table thought the same thing, as we can clearly see him being chastised from all angles. Poker is supposed to be a gentleman’s game, and the slow roll is considered one of the dirtiest and disrespectful moves one can pull, right behind angle shooting. As such, it is easy to understand the harsh criticism recieved by Andreas, as slow rolling should be discouraged and frowned upon. 

Now, I want you to put yourself in Andreas’ shoes for a moment. You are an amateur poker player at the final table of a major live event. There is a crowd of people watching, a live stream of the action, and big money at stake. Every hand is crucial and one error in judgement could cost you tens of thousands of dollars. You have the shortest stack and the anxiety of being the next player to bust out is overwhelming. You are incredibly nervous and all you can think about is how desperately you need to double up. A solid player opens for a raise and you look down at KQdd in the small blind. You know you can’t afford to wait for a better hand, but since you are very short stacked, you fear that if you go all in before the flop you might get called by a weak ace. You decide to call and see a flop, and it comes Ad6d8d. You flop the nuts! Suddenly you are overwhelmed with emotion. You check and Donnacha puts you all in! This is amazing, you waited patiently and finally got what you waited for! Now you will have some chips to work with unless you get really unlucky, and you have a decent shot at outlasting a player or two, or who knows, maybe you will catch a couple more lucky breaks and win the whole thing. Your heart races as dopamine floods your nervous system and you can’t help but get a bit lost in the moment, which is most likely the biggest one you’ve experienced in your time as a poker player. Oh, right, the hand isn’t over yet, you still need to call and your hand needs to hold up. You take a deep breath, regroup, and push your chips in the middle…

Ok, you can put your shoes back on. Clearly, in the described scenario, you were completely present in the moment, unaware of time as it passed. Feeling a combination of nervous, anxious, and excited, the last thing on your mind was malicious intent. If someone told you that you did something wrong, you wouldn’t begin to understand why. From your perspective, you played a hand, flopped the nuts, took a few moments to fully realize and enjoy what was happening, and got your money in the middle. 

This is where the concept of subjectivity comes into play. While we might all be looking at the same thing, we are looking through different lenses. This is why one person can look at a painting and find profound meaning, while another person can look at the same painting and be completely uninterested. The classic idiom, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, is based on this idea. This also explains why a professional poker player might look at Andreas' behavior in this hand as completely disrespectful, while Andreas might feel completely innocent. It is important to understand that people have different ways of seeing things, depending their unique life experience. Before we judge someone’s actions, we should take into account their perspective and see if it can allow us to be more understanding. 

Does this mean I would encourage anyone to behave like Andreas did in this hand? Of course not, as this kind of behavior can cause unnecessary frustration for everyone else involved, while wasting precious moments of time as the blinds inevitably rise. However, does this mean I should be angry at Andreas, or chastise him for getting caught up in an whirlwind of  emotions? Again, the answer is no. He is an amateur who is presumably going to be losing money in the long run, thereby contributing to the expectation of the winning players. It is very possible his lack of awareness is attributable to his inexperience, which should earn him a bit of leeway when it comes to the nuances of live play. Experienced players should be expected to know better, and should aim to set an example of how to behave in the best interest of the other players and the integrity of the game. 

Since I don’t know Andreas personally, I can’t say with 100% certainty that my assessment is accurate, but after watching the video (particularly his reaction to the river) a few times, my read is that his “slowroll” was nothing more than a case of an inexperienced player struggling to compose and prepare himself for a moment worth thousands of dollars in equity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen an old man deliberately count out his chips before calling all in with AA pre flop, and almost never do I think “wow what an asshole”, because I know that in his mind there was no ill will intended. If by some chance I’m wrong, and Andreas intentionally slow rolled, then he is by all means the asshole everyone basically called him, but if my read is right, I think we should be a little more understanding and should be more hesitant to harshly criticize a paying customer who was simply having the time of his life. 

Darryll Fish is a poker pro from Cape Coral, Florida. In addition to final table appearances on the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker, Fish also owns a WSOP Circuit ring.

His blog, A Small Fish In A Big Pond, can be read in its entirety here. Fish is also involved with the Live High Community, a project dedicated to promoting joy by inspiring a more passionate, kind and loving humanity. Follow Darryll on Twitter.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of


over 7 years ago

It is definitely possible he's a big time ass. But, it is also quite possible he misread his hand or the board. No one here who's played enough can tell me they've never misread their hand at least once in their life. Just last week during a 16 hour overnight 2/5 session, I folded the nut flush on a 5c-7d-Kc-3c-Qh. I had A8cc. I cbet the flop with what I thought was a backdoor flush draw. I checked the turn with the intent to check raise with my now nfd (so I thought). But I had already hit it!! The river came blank. And I checked. He bet and I mucked. As the dealer pulled my cards in around the flop area of the board is when I realized the FIVE was a CLUB!! I could have sworn it was a spade. It was too late my cards were in the muck. I said nothing to the table. I had just realized then that I had a made a huge mistake and basically gave away a couple hundred dollar pot. I attributed this to the fact that I was on a 16 hour session. Live and learn. Point is we really cannot jump to conclusions and judge one way or another until we have some more concrete evidence. I guess what DF is saying is let's give him the benefit of the doubt bc we cannot be 100% sure of his intentions.


over 6 years ago

very good


over 7 years ago

This is ridiculous. It sounds like we are making excuses for one or two INEXCUSABLE things:

1. He didn't know his hand (as said in one of the comments). This is insane. EVEN if the K and Q were scratched out on his cards for some reason and he only saw 5 DIAMONDS it's an insta-call

2. He was overcome with so much emotion. This is also crazy. In order make this final table he clearly had to play some big hand before this moment as well. Now all of a sudden he is so overcome that he can't say "call" immediately?

So ok I don't think he was intentionally trying to be rude, but his actions are completely inexplicable. We are Wasting time trying to make excuses for madness. He should have insta-called with the nuts and he didn't. Big Mistake. Let's move on.


over 7 years ago

can it be a slow roll if you lose the hand?


over 7 years ago

Not for one second did I think he was "Slow Rolling" I believe like what was just described he was overwhelmed with emotion, Not just of excitement but also wow did this guy just flop a set, how can I possibly lose this hand etc....... That guy took time in other hands as well........ The announcers agreed were way out of line....... He was a BEGINNER !!!! cut the guy some slack..... Just like jrspin just asked, Is it a slow roll if you lose the hand ?


over 7 years ago

Ridiculous! He is an amateur not a monkey, he understood he had the nuts and the way he finally turned his cards over reminded me of someone spiking a football in the end zone.


over 7 years ago

Slow rolling douche bag. End of discussion.


over 7 years ago

He may be an "amateur", but since when do professionals carry membership cards in this game? Clearly, he's an very well-experienced player. No way does he not know what he's holding after the flop, and to think he's so stunned at the turn of events that he took leave of his senses to the point where he'd commit that kind of breach of etiquette...sorry, not buying it. Guys who buy into events like these because they can afford to mess around with that kind of money and could therefore MAYBE get away with that in the name of "he didn't know" are usually very well known before they even sit down, sometimes even more so than top professionals; I've yet to hear anyone suggest that this guy was one such case. It is far from a far-fetched assumption that he's more than experienced enough to have known what he was holding, what was called for, what the risks of calling were, that he had little choice but to assume the risk that came with calling, and to chalk up getting four-outed on the turn or river to a simple matter of "that's poker" and walk away without needing a padded room in which to recuperate.

Bottom line: there is simply no benefit of the doubt to be given in this case.


over 7 years ago

Whether he's inexperienced and has trouble reading hands or is conscious and did it intentionally - he should be admonished for it. That's how he'll learn not to do it again.
Or....this slow role etiquette crap is WAAAYYY blown out of proportion. Everyone's trying to suck out and take each other's chips anyways, so what's the big deal how it happens. Slow rolls happen EVERY day at EVERY level of poker. Could also be argued it was bad etiquette for the table to cheer the way they did.
And O'Dea only had 3 outs, not 4....but I digress.


over 7 years ago

Thanks DFish - I had almost this exact reaction while watching it. He did not AT ALL seem like he was doing it maliciously. Regardless of what the actual reason was, and several options posed are certainly possible, it came off as a true mistake/lack of understanding. The type of slow-rolling that's problematic is when cocky people use it to make someone else feel terrible; there's no way that was the case here. And why wouldn't you want this kind of player in a tourney like this anyway?

At least the Don had an appropriate reaction.

All this fuss is kinda like the concern over Aaron (or was it Andrew) Harrison's calling Big Frank something "inappropriate". In what was possibly the most non-racist thing ever, everyone's turning it into a racist thing simply because of the definition of something...

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