(Picture "stolen" with permission from www.lasvegasvegas.com)
Charlie Shoten is a player I met at the WPPA. Charlie was disillusioned with the WPT and wanted tournaments put back into the hands of the players.
I first met Charlie during a Stud satellite. He was mostly quiet, but said some strange things when he did speak. He was talking about mystical things, and I thought he was just teasing a player who kept insisting that flushes come more often than straights when there is a full moon.
Later I learned that there are certain things that Charlie really believes (no, I don't think he believed the flush versus straight theory).
I noticed right away that Charlie is soft-spoken and quiet. He doesn't reveal himself unless he feels that he can trust a person and/or that he is being listened to. He is definitely a no-nonsense guy, but often sits and watches other people, instead of putting himself in front.
Charlie and I played in the first WPPA Seven Card Stud tournament. We only got nine players, but all of them were sincere in wanting the best for the WPPA. This was only the second event, and we had no idea that disaster was waiting for us, although we were already experiencing glimmers of the future.
Like tiny warriors, we played Stud anyway. We played for over six hours, and had a fantastic time. There is something about Stud that turns the most hardened, grumpy poker players into more calm human beings. The rhythm of Stud is relaxing; the memorization of the doorcards erases the mind of bad beats, one outers and other events that tend to put people in a bad mood.
This tournament was no exception. We may have each chucked $1000 into the prize pool, but we treated each other like decent people, not hurting our opponents by screaming when we sucked out on them, at the river. Stud is a different game, etiquette is generally much better.
Charlie and I got to talk quite a bit during this tournament. I found that I liked him. Regardless of his belief in some things that I didn't believe in, I found that we had much in common. Our feelings about ethics and morality were almost exactly the same. Charlie, like me, pulls no punches. He is not PC and nicey-nice, but he is genuine.
Charlie went on quite a run during the WPPA. Sometimes watching him from the sidelines was amazing. He made some awesome plays, like any other WCP. He switched up his play quite a bit, too, never letting anyone put him on a hand or a thought. He was so hard to read.
In the first Omaha 8 event, when Gioi wanted to play it out for the title, Charlie obliged him, like a little kid in a school yard, giggling along with Gioi and having fun with it. Charlie could have declined and went to bed. He was having some long days!
The next day, which was the first shootout, Charlie seemed so tired, so fatigued. But he got an hour break, went to his room to nap, and came back like a tiger, taking down his opponents in only 30 minutes! Rather than apologizing and escaping back to his room, Charlie sat and talked to me for an hour, giving me lots of information about not only his style of play, but also his life, his train of thought, and surviving in the pro circuit.
Just when I thought Charlie couldn't be more kind or sincere, he looked me in the eye and pressed some money into my hand, forcing me to take it, regardless of his "losses" by playing in such short fields.
In the main event, Charlie got deep into the field. When he busted out I was there to give him a pat on the back. Charlie still smiled, like always, accepting his loss better than almost anyone I've seen. Although suffering from lack of sleep and long days, Charlie went around shaking hands and patting backs. He congratulated other players, was very nice to the staff and behaved in a professional manner at all times.
I think one of the things I admire about Charlie the most is how he behaved one time when I saw him make a mistake. He made an error after a long day when talking to the floorman about his payout. When he realized his mistake, he apologized profusely and stuck out his hand to the floorman asking to be forgiven.
Charlie Shoten is not only a world-class player, but a true gentleman.