Nit roll or slow roll? That’s a great debate worth having when it comes to this week’s classic Poker After Dark hand. Let’s examine one of the oddest poker hands in the canon between Andy Bloch and Howard ‘The Professor’ Lederer.
A CLASH OF PERSONALITIES
In some Poker After Dark hands, it’s easy to focus on the hand in question because we love both players. With so many heroes at each table of six, it was often a case of viewers preferring one player they liked slightly more than another and not being too disappointed whoever won it, just as long as it was fun to watch. This is no such hand.
In recent years, Howard Lederer has become synonymous with the Full Tilt Poker scandal and subsequent Black Friday closedown of 2011. With the weight of responsibility hanging loosely around his neck (along with Ray Bitar and Chris Ferguson), Lederer has hardly been seen since the events of eight years ago.
A RECENT HISTORY OF NITROLLS
When it comes to nitrolls, some of the best (or worst you might say) have happened in very recent history. In 2015, German player Andreas Gann risked the ire of the world by nit-rolling Donacha O’Dea with the nits when he tanked over calling all-in with the nut flush on the flop. O’Dea miracle a full house on the river for what many fans called justice.
A year later, there was an even more appropriate nitroll to this hand, when, at the 2016 Aussie Millions, Mikkel Habb took an eternity to call Sam Abernathy’s all-in. Habb held pocket kings and was in great shape against Abernathy’s sad-looking sixes. But, just like in the O’Dea hand, a six came on the river to reward the player who hadn’t nitrolled.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
While much has been made of Chris Ferguson, who was the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year thanks in no small part to the structure of the qualification thresholds that year, less was known about Lederer and Bitar in the years after the FTP scandal. Bitar famously pleaded that he had a heart ailment, allowing him to escape lightly from the ensuing court case in the aftermath of the scandal.
Lederer had disappeared for a long time, having given a bizarre non-apology at the time and having been hounded out of the argument by high profile players such as Daniel Negreanu. But he resurfaced a couple of years ago, playing a WSOP $10,000 buy-in 2-7 Draw Lowball event in 2016. He failed to cash, meaning the last time he did make money from a tournament entry was in 2011, just a year after this hand took place. He may have walked back into Bobby’s Room, but he did so to anger from the poker players he met.
Andy Bloch led a more philanthropic life after he took ‘a very long time’ debating over whether to call The Professor’s big slick with his pocket kings. He’d always donated his FTP online winnings to charity but continued that theme in live tournaments too. He still plays poker, but the former MIT student who brought down the house by counting cards also released a blackjack DVD that promised to teach anyone how to beat the system.
While it wasn’t all about charity donations when it came to poker for either of these two very different men, both would look back on Poker After Dark as a watershed moment in their career. For Bloch, the peak of his fame. For Lederer, the last time he sat down at a poker table pretty much universally liked.
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