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The Ten -- Poker's Best Quotations

A Look At Some Of The Greatest Things Ever Said About The Game


This week, on The Ten, we’re taking a look at some of the best things ever said around a card table.

Take a look and let us know if you agree with our rankings. If you don’t, tell us which one of your favorite quotes we forgot to include.

Tom McEvoy10. There is more to poker than life. — Tom McEvoy

Wait. Go back and read that quote again. Chances are, you read it wrong the first time around. Too often, poker players get it backwards and allow the game to completely take over their lives. Here Tom McEvoy, four-time bracelet winner and 1983 WSOP main event winner, ironically captures the mindset of the average poker player.

9. Limit poker is a science, but no-limit is an art. In limit, you are shooting at a target. In no-limit, the target comes alive and shoots back at you. — Crandell Addington

The quote would have made more sense coming from a young online pro, not Crandell Addington, a guy who competed with the greats during a time when no-limit poker was rarely played. Addington finished second in the WSOP main event twice and final tabled that tournament seven times in the 1970s, making his quote look even more prophetic.

8. It’s not whether you won or lost, but how many bad beat stories you were able to tell. — Grantland Rice

The great Grantland Rice was an American sportswriter who passed away in 1954. But even back then, Rice was able to nail the true appeal of the game. The truth is that the majority of us won’t get rich playing poker. In fact, we’ll probably wind up losing everything we brought to the table in the first place, but at least we’ll be left with a story or two.

Benny Binion7. Trust everyone, but always cut the cards. — Benny Binion

Benny Binion was a true Las Vegas visionary who is credited with the formation of the World Series of Poker back in 1970. This is also a man who was once accused of killing a competitor and then turning the gun on himself in order to claim self defense. Amarillo Slim Preston, who you’ll hear from in the next quote, once called Binion “either the gentlest bad guy or the baddest good guy you’d ever seen.”

6. You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once. — Amarillo Slim Preston

This was the quote that preceded “don’t tap the glass.” Amarillo Slim knew that it wasn’t enough to beat a man out of his money, you had to find a way to make him come back for more.

5. Poker is a lot like sex. Everyone thinks they are the best, but most don’t have a clue what they are doing. — Dutch Boyd

What Dutch Boyd gets correct here is that most poker players are a bit delusional about their abilities. Ask a table full of average $1-$2 no-limit hold’em players who is a winning player, and somehow, all will raise their hand. They’re not lying to you, they just don’t want to face the truth. It’s really easy to forget five losing sessions and focus on the one winning session you just had.

Phil Hellmuth4. If there weren’t luck involved, I would win every time. — Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth is a poker quote machine. Who could forget when he channeled his inner-Neo to say that he could dodge bullets? Still, it’s hard to ignore the poignancy of this quote. Luck is the ultimate equalizer in poker. It’s the reason why Phil Ivey doesn’t win every tournament he enters, and it’s the reason why someone like you, an average reader, can take down the main event.

3. If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker. — Matt Damon in Rounders

This quote has been said by many people in many different ways, but for a lot of us, it’s the reason why we got into poker in the first place. Rounders fascinated us and Matt Damon’s portrayal of up-and-comer Mike McDermott had us all believing that we were the next Johnny Chan.

Stu Ungar2. Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser — Stu Ungar

Here you have just ten words, but they are ten words that say everything you need to know about the late, great Stu Ungar. The three-time WSOP main event winner despised losing and never took it well. That being said, he didn’t exactly take winning well either and overdosed just over a year after earning his fifth and final bracelet.

1. Money won is twice as sweet as money earned. — Paul Newman in The Color of Money

If you haven’t seen the The Color of Money, you are missing out. It’s not a poker movie. Frankly, it’s not even about cards, but the quote above says it all. We’d all like to work hard and make a decent living, but the reality is that it’s way more fun to get rich “the easy way.” Of course, it’s been said that poker is hard way to earn an easy living.



over 9 years ago

What about Scottie's, "Nut Nut Baby!?" Or any quotes from that epic night for that matter


over 9 years ago

You should have included toward the top nick dandalos' "The next best thing to gambling and winning is gambling and losing". The kick you get out of losing a big pot is almost as exciting as the one you get from winning. In a weird way the pain of losing makes you feel alive much the same way as the joy of winning.


over 9 years ago

The point being that limit players were only comfortable playing their hands. No limit players could play their hands or their oppononents hands.


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