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Old 02-11-2011, 05:51 PM   #1
pfapfap
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Angry Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

I need to rant a bit.

We have a long-time player in my game who is becoming unbearable. I have empathy towards his life stressors, and I've tried having conversations with him, but he can be as thick-headed and combative as I've often been myself, but without as much self-awareness. So... yeah. I'm going to rant and ramble here, so that when I approach him in another week or so, I have it distilled, and can focus on only the primary bullet points in a constructive manner.

He does everything he can to be the absolute focus of attention. He fights me any time I ask him anything, and complains about everything. He has caused other players to stop attending. The problem is that he's the league leader, and I can't kick him out for "personality" at this phase. But I am going to request he stop playing cash games (he only plays occasionally), and if he doesn't start working with rather than against me, he's out completely after this season.

Thankfully I've learned a lot this past year and am much better at managing people and handling conflict. But I have my fiery legacy, so I need to handle this delicately.

Last night he almost pushed me to my breaking point, but then I realized he's a 4-year-old boy. I told myself he wasn't trying to undermine me, he was throwing a tantrum and pouting. When he tried half an hour later to continue arguing the topic that got me to be a little curt towards him, my response was a perplexed, "Really?" So, yay me. But I still have to deal with it for the group.

Okay, here are some juicy specifics. These are of varying levels of annoyance on their own, but it's death by a thousand cuts. Keep in mind he has been playing this game for YEARS, is knowledgable and skilled about poker, and should really know a lot of this stuff by now.
  • He holds up action every single hand. Last night people started really commenting on it, joking that his stories get more colorful when it's his turn to act. I kept in mind a recent thread here that noted this is holding others hostage, and hogging the spotlight.
  • He complains when others slow down the action.
  • He complains that the levels are too fast.
  • He argues when I ask him to take a moment out of his story and act on his hand.
  • He pouts that he's not allowed to talk at all or have any fun because pfap is mad at him.
  • He complains when nobody reminds him that it's his turn.
  • He whines about beats, or about not getting enough action. (Keep in mind he is the league leader.)
  • He complains about how hard it is to do all the things that everybody at the table is doing (shuffling, dealing, paying attention, etc).
  • We're doing construction in the garage, and last night he complained that he was having a special hard time that deserves special attention because of the dryness of the air (because we're breathing different air, I guess?).
  • He ignores requests for pizza topping suggestions, then complains about what I order.
  • He complains I don't have the fridge stocked with his preferred beverage. These games are BYOB.
  • He basically finds a way to whine about everything, about how unlucky he is, and how specially put-upon he feels.
  • He will get snarky and smack-talk with others, then become personally offended when others return in kind. He puts those other people in the position of both having to defend themselves, and apologize for not intending to be mean.
  • He asks EVERY SINGLE TIME what the bet is, what the blinds are, who raised, etc. I keep a clean table, all of this information is clear.
  • He almost always has to be reminded to put out blinds and antes, and complains when we remind him.
  • If we give up after four or five times, he complains that we didn't remind him to put out his blinds and antes.
  • Even after all that, he often puts out the wrong amount.
  • He gets pissy when I mention that the procedure is the same it's been for four years, or that the blinds are displayed on the board, or that the action is clearly laid out in front of him. (Granted, I'm a bit condescending with this, but there's not much more to do than point and go "duh".)
  • He doesn't pay attention to the action, then questions what happened with his chips and whether he got the right change.
  • He blames others when he misunderstands the bet.
  • He fights me and gets defensive when I ask him not to look at the cards a certain way. We've had a problem with accidental denting, and this is an eternal struggle to curb.
  • Last night after I busted I was dealing the final few players. There was a question on bet sizing and the source of some of the chips in the pot. I was on auto-pilot and had dropped the ball, so I mentioned that this is why it's a good idea for people in the hand to pay attention, so that we can help each other not make mistakes. He argued that he didn't feel he should have to do that, and that it was entirely my fault.
  • He seeks out and nearly demands recognition and praise for doing basic tasks (ie, he wants to be complimented for dealing his button at a basic level of competence).
  • He has come to me with problems he's had with others, and I have addressed them to the best of my ability. Yet he refuses to work with me when I go to him with problems others have with him.
  • He drives people away with his behavior, then complains that attendance is down.
  • He has seemingly no awareness that he is but one person among dozens, and that in addition to setting up the game and acting as party host, that I'm actually trying to play some poker from time to time. It's disrespectful to me, it's disrespectful to everybody at the game.

And it just goes on and on and on. I don't think it was this way when the games started, and I think my own co-dependent tendencies have helped get him to this point with me, but I'm done with it. I'm not angry about it, because it's not personal. I'm not frustrated with it, because I realize I don't have to convince him of motivation. I've turned a corner, and he's about to get the business laid out for him.

If he's doing it intentionally to gain an edge, then he needs to stop.

If he's doing it subconsciously and not intending to be a PITA, then he needs to let me help him stop.

If he can't do either, then he is out of the game.

No matter what, this crap is gonna stop. I'll let him play the final 6 league games, but nothing outside of that. I'll re-evaluate the rest next season.

It sucks because he's a long-time supporter of the game, and has been around since the beginning. I enjoy his particular way of looking at the world, and his energy can be very positive when he's not whining or causing problems, but this anti-social behavior is just too much. He's a small child, and I'm giving him a time-out.

Thanks for letting me vent a bit of the frustration. I need to get it out of my system and distill this down before attempting to talk with him. Otherwise it will be a 4-hour conversation with no resolution.

Whee, running a game is fun!

Last edited by pfapfap; 02-11-2011 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:04 PM   #2
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Now that I've vented it all out, I'm very itchy to initiate the conversation with him. Clearly I need to curb that desire for a bit. I have a week to do it, because I need to ask him not to attend next Thursday's cash game. He doesn't usually play the cash games, but he's stopped by the last couple.

But I could use suggestions on how to approach it. The email needs to be as brief as possible, with as little room for argument as possible, in as open and conversational and non-combative a tone as possible.

I think it's a good idea to stay away from topics about perception and attitudes. I'm going to focus on etiquette, and my role as a host. I'm also going to appeal to his ego. I'll ask him, as a league leader and founder of the game, to help me set an example for others.

But what it boils down to is that he needs to work WITH me, not AGAINST me. When I say something, it's for everybody's benefit, and he needs to assist rather than block. I have a lot of experience, and all you have to do is look at my game to know that I know what the hell I'm talking about. He needs to stop reacting as if I'm targeting him, and start reacting as if I'm helping him.

I tried having a heart-to-heart emotional conversation with him a few weeks ago, and that didn't work. I still have empathy, and I will work with him to find ways to change his behavior if he wants me to. If he doesn't accept the extended hand, then the door is shut to him. No need to argue whatsoever.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:11 PM   #3
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Sounds like a douche, and it sucks because he is the pts leader that it would look shady if you booted him now. \

Personally, I would tell him before the end of the season, like next time he plays, what your gripes are. Then tell him what you intend to do about it, privately would be better, in a crowd he'd feel ambushed, but hes going to ask everyone their opinion anyway so just let him do it on his own. If he doesn't like it and stops coming then good. If he keeps coming and continues to act like a douche then he knows what will happen. If he shapes up then also fine.

Just make it very clear that this isnt a discussion or a debate. he doesnt get a platform, he gets no turn to speak. No "but what if..." or "how come....". You talk he listens, meeting over. Tell him he can take it for what he wants but its in the best interest of your league and the other players in it.


Should work.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:18 PM   #4
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

You seem to be approaching this with a level head. Just stay that way. Do your best to be non-emotional. Like a robot. Just the facts.

You know he won't be. He's gonna flip out like a bi**h. Be the better man. Just be prepared for the damage to your friendship.

Oh yeah, I think you're friends. Why else would the impending confrontation stir you so much. If you hated the guy this would be much easier.

GL sir.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:22 PM   #5
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Good points, both of you.

You're right that we're friendly. I've kicked out others before. The last one I felt was doing more actively destructive things, rather than this passive-aggressiveness. But in that case, even though I couldn't pinpoint anything specific, my reason was just general "lack of cooperation, and an attitude that undermines the game". But I thought that person was cheating and angle-shooting and denting cards (and he was). I trust this current guy in the game, he's just a pain in the ass.

But underneath, this is the same thing. It's uncooperative and undermining. I'm too old for this crap.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:23 PM   #6
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

pfap, just curious: if this guy was last in points and couldn't win any prize, would you boot him?
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:27 PM   #7
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Good question. If it were earlier in the league, yes. I'd refund his contribution and show him the door. That's what I did last time, and that guy was one of our top players. It was more about time invested and where we were in the league. Now that we're 2/3 through it and he's at the top of the board, it has a lot of potential to get messy, and make a lot of people feel nervous and on edge. I've asked people to invest in this project, and I don't feel comfortable pulling out the rug.

Last time we talked he did get passive-aggressive about complaining that if it was such a problem, he'll just quit, etc etc. I spent a lot of time with, "No, man, I like you, you're fun, I'm trying to help you, please work with me, don't be like that." But that was then. I won't stop him this time, but I will be clear that it's his choice.
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Old 02-11-2011, 06:32 PM   #8
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

If he quits and wants his buyins back, will that really f up the prize structure pretty bad? Or will it be a good thing overall because the group becomes stronger? You mentioned attendance being down. I think you're right. If he threatens to quit this time, have his payout ready and say see-ya.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:13 PM   #9
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Use the following:

Dude, please work with me, not against me. During the game, when I say something, it's for everybody's benefit, and I really need you to support me when I do. We both have a lot of experience, and all you have to do is look at our game to know that we both know what the hell we're talking about, but I need you to stop reacting as if I'm targeting you, and start reacting as if I'm helping you and the game in general.

If you get any push back resort to violence.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:46 PM   #10
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Give him a link to this thread.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:50 PM   #11
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Your understanding and empathy is quite admirable. But know that none of that will help with this guy and its going to get ugly and then you'll kick him out and that will be the end of it. There will not be an epiphany by him nor a sitcom ending...it will end badly and you did all you could.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:13 PM   #12
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

"Erasing" his presence is just far too much hassle. Do other peoples' scores change? Why are we removing money from the collective pool? I don't like using a threat of force as a means of coercion, and I think that would send a "shape up or ship out" tone, one that casual players might not understand. This is a big game, after all. Lots of people coming and going.

Good take Zappa, that's the path I was leading, and I will definitely use that as a template.

Doug, you're right, this probably won't end with him remaining (at least not after this season), and I am more than happy with that resolution. It's the easiest and least demanding. But I need to get out clean. There can be no blood on my hands. We all know I like to ramble and am easily distracted by emotion. That's why I'm venting it out here, and asking for feedback, so that I can absorb it all and handle it with my head held high.

So far so good everybody, thanks a bunch! This is the boiling frog: you don't realize what's going on until it's too late... describing it to others has really helped put it in perspective. It seemed normal to me because I'm used to it, but it's objectively ridiculous.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:40 PM   #13
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Quote:
Originally Posted by pfapfap View Post
ILast night he almost pushed me to my breaking point, but then I realized he's a 4-year-old boy.

Keep in mind he has been playing this game for YEARS, is knowledgable and skilled about poker, and should really know a lot of this stuff by now.
I've heard those child prodigies can be quite difficult to deal with. I'm impressed that a 2yo took up poker so successfully.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:53 PM   #14
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

I'm not sure which is the best approach:

1) Let him know he's on probation. No judgment, no request to change any behavior. Let him know that I'm open to discussion if he wishes to change, but otherwise it's up to him. I fear this may put him on the defensive from the get-go.

2) Appeal to his ego, and don't threaten expulsion. Tell him that as he's long-standing member of the group, I need his help to set an example for the others who look up to him. Then, if he doesn't bite, go to #1.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:02 PM   #15
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

I would consider if there are other factors in his life that are leading him here. Is he abusing substances? And I don't mean just using, I mean abusing. The behaviour as you describe it sounds pathological. Defensiveness of this nature is generally indicative of someone who is terminally disatisfied with their own life/who they are/their prospects for the future and generally are bright people who are progressively getting more emotionally unhinged.

To be blunt, if there are deeper issues at work here, there is precious little a "heart to heart" will accomplish if it is not accompanied by direction towards addressing his core issues. Perhaps you should encourage him to seek some counselling?
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:02 PM   #16
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Why, exactly, are you so intent on keeping this schmuck around? I'm frankly shocked that you've let it get to this state in the first place... but you already know that you have a huge hostfail here.

Pfap, it's hard to say whether to go with #1 or #2 here, in your place.
Let's just say I have a #3 in mind, and neither one is one of your pleasant approaches. Because, frankly, this right here is ban-city as far as I'm concerned:

"He has caused other players to stop attending"


These "life-stressors" you mentioned had better be pretty ****ing major... and they STILL don't justify his behavior, as stated.

How long has this crap been going on? And remind me what he gets, for being the points leader in the league?

You need to add some addytude clauses to your home rules, tout-suite!
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:07 PM   #17
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

There are possibly other factors. He's very successful on paper in career, love, and family. But we all have stressors. In the past I've tried to take that into consideration while talking with him, but it's really just smokescreen. This time I don't care at all about the emotion. I can recognize that it's there and assure that I'm not judging, but I am dealing with the cold hard factual situation. His emotions are his own problem, and I will not be sucked into another meandering conversation full of excuses and deflection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lottery Larry View Post
Pfap, it's hard to say whether to go with #1 or #2 here. Why, exactly, are you so intent on keeping this schmuck around?
I'm fine with him leaving. At this point unless he changes dramatically, I prefer it. I simply want my hands to be clean. If he quits, I owe him nothing. If I boot him, then it's a hassle.

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How long has this crap been going on? And remind me what he gets, for being the points leader in the league?
It's been building since the beginning, but with multiple tables running and my own issues, I haven't been cognizant of the overall patterns. He usually only plays tourneys, so I don't see him every week. He's like the girlfriend that gets under your skin and instigates others, then cries and acts all innocent. I've been so distracted by fallout, I haven't been able to focus on the source.

League prizes are WSOP seats. There is significant investment here. I can't kick him out without severely disrupting an already delicate balance.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:15 PM   #18
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Quote:
League prizes are WSOP seats. There is significant investment here. I can't kick him out without severely disrupting an already delicate balance.
crap, I was afraid that was what you were talking about.

Here's one thought- you could ask all of the other players if they'll chip in and buy out his possible seat share, RIGHT now, with the reward of giving him some vacation time from the group. You pay 20%, group splits 80%, 4yo gets the short departure announcement and can stew however he wants.

any risks of him bringing the heat down on the game? If so, your stance may be limited here...

Quote:
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I simply want my hands to be clean. If he quits, I owe him nothing. If I boot him, then it's a hassle.
That's a pretty weak answer for a host. The only thing I'll let you excuse yourself on, for this, is the WSOP seat component, which sucks in dealing with this situation.

However, either way, I'm sure you will NOT let this happen to your other players again


If you can't be the bad guy next time, call me in as a consultant. I do a-hole reamings for free.







yeah, I'm leaving that fat softball pitch out there for the HP crowd to swing at
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:38 PM   #19
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

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There are possibly other factors. He's very successful on paper in career, love, and family. But we all have stressors. In the past I've tried to take that into consideration while talking with him, but it's really just smokescreen. This time I don't care at all about the emotion. I can recognize that it's there and assure that I'm not judging, but I am dealing with the cold hard factual situation. His emotions are his own problem, and I will not be sucked into another meandering conversation full of excuses and deflection.
He sounds like a male version of my sister in law. Perhaps I've read this wrong. Her could just be one of those unfathomably self righteous people, who will go to any length to avoid culpability while passing judgement on everyone else. In which case a gentle but firm "This is how it is" line is the only viable course of action. If he quits, so be it, the better for everyone. You owe him nothing as he left of his own compulsion. If he chooses to stay, you have made your position clear, thereby making it easier for you to player enforcer in future should he misbehave.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:49 PM   #20
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

It really is, and you're both right. Running this game has been an incredible education for me, learning how to deal with people. I am a consummate people-pleaser, which means I let people walk all over me. The flip side of that is that I then over-react when I feel I'm being misrepresented or disrespected. I'm workin' on it.

But these folks have seen me since the beginning. I have a history of flipping out from time to time and being too much of a hard-ass at inappropriate times. So while it may be a dysfunctional relationship, I am responsible for my side of it.

His presence is not something that will destroy the league. There aren't people calling for his head on a pike. This is merely an exercise in handling these kinds of things in a better fashion, and a tone to be set for the future.

Freaking out and booting him to the curb with no warning after four years of loyal play isn't the kind of rational clear-headed thinking I wish to convey to the group as a whole. He's most likely gone after six more games; my concern is how to handle it, how to give him an opportunity to grow, and how to exercise my own emotional regulation.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:56 PM   #21
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Just level with him, tell him he has to start being less argumentative, more respectful and group oriented by the end of the current tournament season or he wont be invited back for another. Tell him other players have complained, and its simply a group decision.
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:40 PM   #22
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

We videotaped a tournament via the web once and when we replayed the tape it revealed the truth about all of us without a doubt.
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:49 PM   #23
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

Yeah, I've considered it.

But I'm not sure I want to look into that mirror.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:32 PM   #24
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

I like the probation Idea, it might be best to take a vote of at least the people who show up most regularly, im not sure if asking every single person is super necessary, just the people whos opinion you value most.

Hey guys, i was thinking about putting "joe" on probation, one strike youre out, no more being overly douchey or i boot him.

If they agree, approach him.

When he says, but you never put anyone else on probation?!, Tell him "exactly, that is how bad its gotten."

Maybe he'll be able to reflect on that, and realize youre out of friendlier options and that its become such a disruption that this is now the only way he can continue to come. Im not sure if setting an expiration date on the probation is something you wanna do, but it may not be a bad idea. Rest of this season, and half or all of next, and any cash action between now and then mebe.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:58 PM   #25
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Re: Self-Absorbed Anti-Social Behavior

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When he says, but you never put anyone else on probation?!, Tell him "exactly, that is how bad its gotten."
That's a great way to put it.

In a lot of ways it's similar to the last guy who was kicked out, except that guy was more maliciously destructive. But it's the same kind of thing. I mean, hell, how much time have I spent on it today alone? I think drawing a parallel with him will only make him upset, though. Less is definitely more, and these nuggets are handy to have. This pre-arming is very helpful.

I don't want to have a vote, because that's like a public stoning. I'm often putting out some minor fire or another, and I'd prefer keep these things as discrete as posible. But I do have a few trusted people with whom I discuss these things. I've been chatting with the guy who stopped playing because of him (or at least the one who gave that as a reason), and with another long-time member of the game whose opinion I respect. They've been very supportive, and validating some concerns.

See, that's the problem with being a blow-hard know-it-all. I'm always doubting my own perceptions, and I hate making any decision of finality. But I'm solid on the idea that this needs to change immediately, I'm just working a gameplan.
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