Monday, May 24, 2010

Negative Ned and Negative Nancy

By Pauly
Las Vegas

When I was training for my first job on Wall Street, we were given a guidebook that was essentially a psychological study done by the CIA (or maybe it was the KGB or some other three-lettered covert organization) which outlined 7 basic personality types. We memorized those and used the models to size up potential clients on the phone. At the time I was skeptical, but as time passes the more and more accurate I'm starting to learn those CIA and shrinks knew their shit.

OK, so there's really 16 or so advanced types of personalities and two sub-sets for each, but let's not get too technical or complicated. The 7 basics that they gave us were important for what we were trying to do... persuade strangers to give us their savings so we could gamboooooooool with it under the guise of providing them future financial stability and security.

Anyway, one of the personalities were called Negative Ned. They usually had names for both genders, so the female version was Negative Nancy.

Simply put, these were the most negative people on the planet. All they did was complain about everything, in addition to grumble, bemoan, and denounce everything. These were some of the hardest people to sell and many of my colleagues avoided calling them. Me? I was always up for a good challenge, but I also knew how to turn them around. But hey, this post is not about advanced high pressure sales techniques... rather it's about the Negative Neds and Nancys in your life.

I hope you are not a Negative Ned or Nancy, but I know that you know a few -- perhaps your Mother or Father or even your boss. I feel horrible if your spouse is one of those black holes of negativity. You really should find a new job and ditch your dead-end relationship.

In short, life is tough enough. You can eliminate stress by limiting the amount of time you spend with negative personality types.

The first real Negative Nancy I encountered was a waitress at one of the bars I frequented during college. At first glance, she was what everyone frat boy dreamed of -- a smoking hot Southern gal who loved to spend a few extra minutes chatting with you. Hey, I was drunk and horny and love blondes, so I welcomed the extra banter. However, after a while I started to discover that everything she talked about had a common thing -- she was bitching and moaning about something... anything... her landlord, the dishwasher, her ex-boyfriend, the lady at Kroger's who cut her in line. Yep, and I was stupid enough to sit there and waste a good buzz listening to her complain. I was foolish. I really thought that I could get laid, but in fact, all I was going to get was a pair of swollen blue balls and a earful of venting.

After a while, I started blowing her off. I didn't want the extra banter. My life was complicated at age 19 as is with so many other issues that I really didn't need someone else unloading their problems on me... no matter how hot or how sexy her accent.

I worked with a guy on Wall Street ironically who might have been a Hall of Fame candidate for Negative Neds. Holy shit, this guy was always grumpy and despondent. He hated everything, especially himself even though he was one of the top producers in the company and received the fattest bonus every year. He had an apartment in the city, a house in Westchester, and a ski condo in Colorado. We met his wife once and she was smoking hot and cool as shit. He had two kids who looked normal in the two pictures sitting on top of his Bloomberg machine. We could never figure out why he hated everything. Shit, he even hated Fridays! He hated happy hour. He hated pizza. He thought the Yankees sucked and the Jets sucked even more even though he was a season ticket holder for both teams.

I gotta assume he hated what he had to do for money every day. Maybe he wanted to be a painter or a pro golfer and somehow ended up trading bonds for a bunch of old Brits who were whiter than the whitest white man you've ever seen.

When I started playing poker, I met a slew of pissed off players. They were negative, but initially I understood why -- because it can be a brutal game and no one likes to lose money. But the more I played I understood that there's nothing you can do with luck sometimes and you have to roll with the punches. You have to expect losses which means that you have to play with a positive mental attitude in order to retain your focus. Heh, sometimes poker advice is so applicable to life.

Tournament players are particularly more miserable than cash game players, mainly because one bad beat can make a half-a-day of arduous work for MTT grinders completely useless. Cash game players can dig into their pockets and reload for another chance at seeking revenge. Tournament players are shit out of luck.

Anyway, the longer I worked in poker covering tournaments, the more I realized how negative the entire culture had become... eliminated players are pissed at variance and bad luck... pros are pissed off for various reasons (some can be outright petty)... up and comers are pissed off because they can't get to the next level... losing players are pissed because they are broke... dealers are pissed because of bad tips and because players are pissed off which spills over into how they treat dealers... the media are pissed off because they don't get paid jack shit, or get any respect, or they really want to be on the other side of the ropes but can't for whatever reason... and the suits are pissed off because poker doesn't generate as much income as slots, plus gaming execs are handcuffed with most of their decisions... and small time business men are wicked pissed that the US government is cock blocking their livelihood.

So that's part of the reason why I have actively discouraged sensitive people from entering poker because it's an industry of pissed off people. No wonder I don't look forward to moving to Las Vegas every summer because I'm forced to interact with people in a pissed off environment for seven weeks. By the time I escape Vegas, I'm fucking miserable and need to hang out with old hippies and blissful tree huggers in Colorado in order to get my forlorn chakras back into the correct rotation.

For the most part, not everyone you'll meet in poker is negative and I'm really discussing only a small percentage of people, but the sheer strength of the negative force overwhelms everything else. Even for the most positive of souls, it's difficult to remain impermeable. That's why it is essential to shed any Negative Ned or Nancy tendencies in your mental outlook. Negativity corrupts the mind and encourages the poker gods to rule against you.

It's also vital to ignore Negative Ned's endless rants. Shit, it seems like every time I log online, there's someone complaining about another bad beats and how bad they're running. I say: let them bitch and moan, just tune them out.

Heck, make them a target at the tables. If those miserable fucks are unlucky as the claim, then you should be able to suck out against them when you're behind. Think of the tremendous implied tilt odds when you win a monsterpotten off of a Negative Ned. That'll set them off. More venom and blood boiling usually equates to heightened-level of tiltdom. Be sure to tune them out the moment after you lay that sick beat on them, because they are going to erupt.

To sum up...
1. Humans can be pigeonholed into 7 personalities.
2. Don't be a Negative Ned or Nancy.
3. Eliminate stress by avoiding any negative types in your daily life.
4. Tune out negativity at the poker tables and maintain focus.
5. When applicable, take advantage of tremendous implied tilt odds against Negative Ned and Nancy.
As always with anything I write about poker, it can be tweaked to fit your life's mission. And vice versa.


  1. lightning369:07 AM

    How freaking true. My wife has one of these friends. We went on a cruise together with this woman and her husband. Poor guy.

  2. absolutely right12:42 PM

    It seems that some people are just destined to be miserable and pessimistic about everything.  Some of them can at least balance that with humor, which makes dealing with them a bit more tolerable. 

  3. Yup...dat's right...1:01 PM

    It's freakin' near impossible to be non-negative in least some of the times.  If you can understand why, and then work at NOT being negative (a lot harder than it seems), you'll be all right.

  4. BRDPoker1:30 PM

    I know so many Negative Neds/Nancys it's ridiculous.  I can be one from time to time too.  I don't let it affect my play because I know that I can only lose so many 70/30's before it comes back around, but you really have to be fully aligned with the "everything is balanced/the pendulum swings back and forth" line of reasoning before you can fully come to terms with variance.  It takes a lot of faith, in a way.

    However, there is one thing good about them - I enjoy going after the Negative Neds/Nancys at the table because they're easier to bluff.  People who think others suck out on them all the time are way more likely to fold when that ace hits the flop or when the flush comes on the river.  In fact, a lot of times I float them with air so I can take it away if a scare card hits.  Of course, you have to determine whether they're a calling station/NN or a tight one but that should be evident pretty quickly.

  5. Pauly1:50 PM

    Good call BRD... scare cards definitely freak out Negative Neds.

  6. Brian G.2:46 PM

    Dr. Pauly,

    What is your diagnosis of a player that is going out to Vegas to play in the Binion's, Golden Nugget, Venetian DSE, and WSOP events and had budgeted the money assuming that it will all be lost, yet cannot wait to play int he events for the fun of them?  Would you consider him a Negative Ned?

  7. Matt Waldron3:03 PM

    Nice pre-WSOP article, I hope you recycle it annually.  Anyway -- I promist to be the most positive guy in the media bleachers when you see me.  Zero hard luck stories, I'm a lucky boy.

  8. Tully3:17 PM

    Damn dude...right on description of so many of the soul-sucking cup half-empty types I encounter.  I've always called them Droopy Dogs (oh dear, oh my).  I played in a cheapy SnG with one of them yesterday, a guy who min-raised with QQ on the button even though the UTG player had limped.  Of course, Droopy Dog's hand got cracked on the flop by the weak suited King rag of the limper, and he lost almost all of his money on the hand.  He then spent the next 15 minutes protecting his three BB stack so he could berate the UTG guy for being a 'retard' while the rest of us made fun of him for being even stupider than the guy he was attacking.  Not only are the negative types easy to bluff, they're even easier to put on tilt when you harass them for being such a bitch.  

  9. BRDPoker4:33 PM

    That reminds me of another good point - NNs also play AA and KK like complete window lickers because they think they lose all the time with them too.  Highly expoitable.

  10. Pauly7:26 PM

    I'd call him a realist. Enjoy poker. Have fun. Life is too short to bitch about it.