Joe Stapleton: Comedian, Poker Commentator, Upward Failer

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 015

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As well as being a successful comedian, my guest today is known as one of the most popular and entertaining poker commentators to ever pick up a microphone.

Joe Stapleton, known to most as “Stapes”, has been an active poker commentator for over a decade.  

Gaining immediate acceptance in the poker industry, Joe received a reader’s choice award from Bluff magazine during his very first year on the job.

Since then, he has served as commentator and host on many of the industry’s most successful television shows. 

You may have heard his unmistakable voice and wit on the Pokerstars.Net Big Game, the NHL Alumni Charity Shootout, the Deepstacks Poker Tour, or the Deepstacks Western New York Poker Championship.

He’s also served as the host of several shows including: 

– Shark Cage 

– Poker Night In America

– Poker Night Live

Outside the realm of poker, he’s found plenty of success in the stand-up comedy world

He’s worked on MAD TV and made a brief appearance in the Netlfix/Adam Sandler film “The Week Of” and wrote the comedy short film The Lost Archives of Quincy Taylor.

During our conversation Joe reveals that there is quite a lot of substance and deep thinking under the surface of a man that has spent much of his adult life just trying to make people laugh.

He’ll talk about everything from his biggest joy to some of his deepest pains, the amazing and long lasting effects of simply not being a dick, why he believes he caused Black Friday, and even the surprising way that he deals with Internet trolls that will hit you square in the feels.

This talk with one of poker’s biggest and brightest television personalities is one that you’ll be glad you didn’t miss.

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 015: Joe Stapleton

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Brad: Aloha and hello. Welcome to Chasing Poker Greatness. I’m your host, founder of, Brad Wilson. And I thank you once again for joining me on the podcast that uncovers the wisdom, warnings, and winning processes going through some of the brightest minds in and around the game of poker. As well as being a successful comedian. My guest today is known as one of the most popular and entertaining poker commentators to ever pick up a microphone, Joe Stapleton, known to most as Stapes, has been an active poker commentator for over a decade, gaining almost immediate acceptance in the poker industry. Joe received a Reader’s Choice Award from Bluff Magazine during his very first year on the job. Since then, he served as commentator and hosts on many of the industry’s most successful television shows. Outside the realm of poker, he’s found plenty of success in the stand-up comedy world. He’s opened for Norm Macdonald. He’s worked on Mad TV, and made a brief appearance in the Adam Sandler film the week of. During our conversation, Joe reveals quite a bit of substance and deep thinking under the surface of a man that spends much of his adult life trying to make people laugh. He’ll talk about his biggest joys and deepest pains, the amazing and long-lasting effects of simply not being a dick, why he believes the cause Black Friday, and even the surprising way that he deals with internet trolls that will hit you square in the fields. This talk with one of pokers biggest and brightest television personalities is one you will be glad you didn’t miss. So, without any further ado, this is Joe “Stapes” Stapleton on chasing poker greatness.

Brad: Joe, my man. How you doing?

Joe: I’m good man. I like this. It’s like I’m talking to someone at a Star Wars or something. The way your headphones keep appearing and disappearing. It’s like, it’s like you’re one of those force ghosts. Like I’m talking to the Emperor right now. The Enhance Your Edge Emperor.

Brad: And for those listening on, in the audio format.

Joe: Oh, man, audio format. What are you guys doing? It’s fucking 2019. Get a video.

Brad: Joe, Joe’s clearly on drugs. I don’t know what he’s talking about. It’s just completely normal behind me. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on. But there’s still time, right? I’ve heard that a lot

Joe: I am on drugs by the way. I’ve had a half a Canada’s cold brew, and I am online. Hi.

Brad: Oh, yeah, I had I had my Starbucks early this morning. And so, I’m pretty pumped up on drugs too.

Joe: What is it about going to Starbucks that you know, it’s a waste of money. You know, it’s horrible for the environment, you know, you’re just feeding into like, one of the worst companies on the planet. But it just feels so good to go in the morning. Like, just go and get your Starbucks and have a B party routine and just like, go stretch your legs and just dip your toe into the world at Starbucks. Why is it, why is it so gratifying?

Brad: I don’t know. I wake up early. So yeah, like 5:45. And now they have this mobile app, right? That’s like, reduces all the friction. I’ll have to stand in line. I just put my order in. I go. I show up. It gets me out of the house

Joe: And you get all of the benefits of the blood flow with none of the problems of human interaction.

Brad: Yeah, because human interaction, it’s a big, it’s a big problem for me in my life.

Joe: It’s horrible.

Brad: Sitting in my computer, computer room playing online poker all the time. I too, I get just way too much human interaction.

Joe: So, wait, so where do you play online poker from? Is that a just a disclosable location?

Brad: Like my computer room?

Joe: You play online poker. You appear to be an American, but you play online poker for a living?

Brad: Yeah. Yeah.

Joe: Got it.

Brad: I mean,

Joe: Don’t tell me anymore. I don’t want to know anything else.

Brad: We’re adults here, right? Like if I, I’m going to play cards, and I’m going to figure I figure out a way to play cards. I think that it’s pretty absurd that I can’t or the folks can’t play cards. I

Joe: I definitely agree on the I’m an American person. who should have the freedom to play the cards that I want to play. On the flip side, some of the companies that I do a lot of work for might not be super happy about people playing from America, whether it be one reason or another. So, yeah, I’m going to assume that you do a lot of traveling overseas and play from legal markets. Cool. good story.

Brad: It was a great story. And that is 100% true.

Joe: Sometimes true. Yes.

Brad: Yes. And by the pause in my voice, that is not a tell that out of my teeth. See, this, this is we’re talking in the pre-interview about, you’ve told your poker story before, and finding, finding another angle right, for our conversation. So, I don’t think we found that yet. I think we are searching. But

Joe: All we can talk about is obviously Black Friday has had its effects on you. I can, I can start off with the story about how I caused Black Friday.

Brad: Perfect. Yeah, let, tell me about how you caused Black Friday and ruined a bunch of people’s lives.

Joe: So, it was like March, what’s Black Friday, like March 15 2011, or something?

Brad: Its April 15th.

Joe: April 15 2011. It’s April 14 2011. And I have been on the Big Game for like six to eight months, right? It’s in its peak, season one has finished airing. We’re in the middle of recording season two. Right. And man was it a big hit. And Joe Stapleton wins Poker Personality, TV personality of the year, in The Bluff Readers’ Choice Awards. His first year on the scene, beats Antonio, beats lawn and norm. The fucking rookie from out of nowhere. And Joe Stapleton was doing Season Two of the Big Game with his best friend and original poker comedy writing partner, Scott Huff. He came on board for season two, and we’re in the recording booth in Stapes, thought that he was king shit a fuck mountain. Davis was living the dream. He thought it was going to last forever. He thought he was the coolest. And on April 14 2011, Stapes went on a date to a carnival in Los Angeles, California, where there was a guy selling airbrush t-shirts and Stapes, who thought it was going to last forever, went up to the guy selling airbrush t-shirts and gave him a $100 bill and said make me an airbrush t-shirt sir. I want to it say, Stapes and I wanted to have a pair of jacks on it. And I want it to be like a playing card theme with poker chips. But last to say Stapes and big loud letters.

Brad: Why Jacks?

Joe: Because I think that aces and royal flushes are played. Like whenever I see like a royal flush on a poker marketing thing. I’m like ah, enough with the royal flushes, get creative. And also, I had a podcast at the time called Two Jacks In The Hole. And so, we had always sort of decided that we were never going to use royal flushes, we were going to Jack’s was going to be our thing. So, I had this t-shirt made. And I wore it the next day into work at the Big Game.  This big old airbrush shirt, in love with myself. Stapes is here. Stapes has graced us with his presence. And about one hour later, I read a Facebook update in between takes that said, GG online poker. And then I went to And I saw a big FBI logo that said, this site has been redacted by the United States Department of Justice. And it was at that moment that my ego, I knew that my ego, that my hubris had caused Black Friday. And so, I apologize. And I promise you, I have never, ever, ever, ever had an ego ever since.

Brad: I love, I love that your ego caused Black Friday, and 

Joe: Yeah, it did.

Brad: You’re 100% convinced of it and you don’t have an ego now.

Joe: Correct. I am 100% that my lack of ego now is the only thing that’s preventing there being a second Black Friday.

Brad: Well, let’s hope that your ego doesn’t come back. I think

Joe: Right.

Brad: I think that the audience and everybody listening can officially hope for only bad things for you moving forward.

Joe: Exactly. Just keep me in check. That’s

Brad: What went through your head when you, you looked at poker news, or poker news, PokerStars. And FBI logo, like what was the internal dialogue? How did you feel? What was that? What was that like?

Joe: I didn’t really understand. And not, not that I was like, I don’t understand. I just didn’t understand to the point where I didn’t ever not understand something so much that you don’t even know you don’t understand it.

Brad: Like you’re kind of in shock?

Joe: Yeah, no, it’s kind of its kind of like how I was with poker at first. And when I thought that I was a poker expert, after one year of playing poker. And it turns out that not only did I not understand poker, I didn’t understand that I didn’t understand it. Like, I thought I knew everything there was to know about it. So, it was, it’s that, it’s like not even being aware of how uninformed you are. And that’s kind of what was going on Black Friday went down.

Brad: Yes. Like the Dunning Kruge,r Dunning Kruger effect.

Joe: Yes, exactly. And so, I, man, that’s so much more succinct than not understanding, not understanding. Yeah. And so, when that went down, I didn’t understand what all was going to happen. I knew it was bad. But I also thought, well, shit. This is it for me. I have, I was on TV for like 45 seconds. And now that’s over. And this sucks. And my career is over. And it turned out that that wasn’t true for me, but it was true for so many people, and I still to this day, don’t really understand or get how, my live could very easily you could argue got better because of Black Friday, and I actually benefited from Black Friday quite a bit.

Brad: Well, we’re going to get to the bottom of that. We’re going to figure out why that happened for you. And, but I want to go back real quick. And ask you. How old were you in 2011 when Black Friday hit?

Joe: I know I’m thinking so hard about this, I could easily do the math. If it was 2011. I was 30 years old.

Brad: Why did you have those thoughts that you thought your life was over? And that you were done at 30 years old? Why was it so devastating?

Joe: I think it was so, it wasn’t devastating on an emotional level. But I think I’m first of all, I’m pessimistic in general. I always expect that everything is going to run out, everything is going to be over soon, someone’s going to realize their mistake that they put me on television. You know, I’m kind of pessimistic slash realistic about stuff like that, because I’ve spent most of my adult life around the entertainment business. And I’ve seen people fail. And I’ve seen people come close, and I’ve seen people succeed a little bit and then sputter out. And I’ve always thought to myself, man, I’m no better than those people. I’m no more talented than those people. So that is very likely to be my fate as well. Like, obviously, I’m a dude here in the poker industry, who very clearly has aspirations to go beyond poker, no offense to poker, but to be a broadcaster or a comedian or an actor, or whatever it is, and another medium other than poker. But I understand that very few poker commentators have done that. You know, Eileen Jacques dabbles in some mainstream stuff from time to time. Gabe Kaplan came from the main mainstream. It’s very rare that you see, like some poker commentator that went on to have a sitcom. So, you know, in, in my realistic sort of mentality, I think that, look, if I peek with doing goofy shit on the sidelines of ESPN, like, that’s entirely realistic for me, that’s entirely possible. So, when Black Friday happened, and I thought it was all over, I was like, oh, this is where being on TV ends for me. Wasn’t necessarily that I was devastated. I was just like, oh, okay. This is done now.

Brad: Did you have, you know, you think of yourself as pessimistic and

Joe: I guess that’s the wrong word because I really don’t think of myself as pessimistic. I. Look, I do act a lot of the time with. I don’t want to. it’s like, humility, that I try to. I try to be like a humble person, but also recognize that I am not worthless, because I think false humility is really irritating too. And so, when I say pessimism, it’s really not pessimism. It’s just sort of I don’t ever want to be the guy that is diluted, and that thinks that they are deserving of more than they really are. So, I err on the side of pessimism, but I’m not. I’m really not pessimistic. I’m a very optimistic person. I’m a very hopeful person. I just don’t like to overvalue certain situations.

Brad: So, the idea of hubris is probably not a good one for you. Imagine

Joe: Something I’m, yeah, I’m incredibly fearful of being that guy. Because I’ve been around that guy. I’ve been around the guy that didn’t understand that he was the most obnoxious person in the room.

Brad: Why? Why did it have such a negative effect on you?

Joe: I think, I think partially because some of the advances that I have received in my life have been replacing that guy. And so, some of the opportunities that opened up for me opened up because people were tired of dealing with that guy. And I was like, holy shit, this guy never saw it coming. Like, here I am in his job now. And he never saw it coming. I don’t want to be that guy who never sees it coming. So, I’ve always, now I, look. Has it gotten incrementally worse over the years? Yes. Like I do, of course have an ego, everyone does. But I’ve always analyzed that aspect of my game the most, which is have to do for a comedian because a lot of comedy. And this is something I witness to, a lot of comedy comes from over inflating your ego, right? Think about like the funniest TV characters you’ve ever seen. All of them have like really healthy, disgusting size egos. It’s funny. So often, through affectation, I will play up my ego, like the story I told you moments ago, right, where I was, had this massive ego, really, it wasn’t that big in that situation. But it’s funny to tell it that way. And I’ve seen people fake this ego to be funny. And then eventually that becomes who they really are. I always, I say is called. I don’t know if I coined this or not, but a friend of mine, heard them say it 10 years ago, more than like 15 years ago, and I was working on a TV show. It’s when, when affectation becomes habit. And that occasionally, if we pretend to be a selfish bastard all the time, people end up becoming actually a selfish bastard or a diva or the person who’s constantly pretending to get annoyed about things, then you become the annoying person. And so, I try not to let even in a comedy sense that ego get too out of check, because I just don’t want to be the guy that everyone’s like, Jesus Christ. Can you believe fucking Stapes? What a fucking idiot?

Brad: Do you think you’ve ever reached that point or point in your mind? Do you have any stories about where you felt uncomfortable, like you reflected and you’re like, oh, man, that was, that was too much?

Joe: There’s definitely been times when I’ve been like, out to dinner on a live stream, on a podcast or something. And I get off and I go, fuck was I just a gigantic blowhard. Tire time and again, you know, it’s, it’s a tough balancing act, because when you’re in those situations, people want you to talk about yourself, people want you to give them a good interview and to tell long winded stories and to find a balance between you know, giving the people what they want. And being an obnoxious prick, I think is, sometimes a tough, a tough balancing act. But I also think that if you are self-aware enough to ask that question afterward, you probably didn’t go too far over the line.

Brad: Yeah, I, I do my podcasts. You know, I do podcast interviews, too. And I had those same thoughts afterwards. Like, my thoughts are also, was I an idiot? Like, why didn’t I say this? Or why didn’t I say that? Like I left a bunch on the table.

Joe: See, that’s your problem is going in wanting to be a smart person. If you go in just with the only goal of being an idiot. It’s so much easier.

Brad: Sometimes, though, like, in my interview with Matt Berkey, a few weeks ago, I remember like just hearing him talk and some people that I talked to, I realized very immediately, oh, they’re way smarter than me. So, I’m watching Matt Berkey talk and in my head, you know, I look very focused in the zone, in my head I saying, dude, don’t be a fucking idiot. Don’t say something, don’t like, don’t say something so stupid that he finds out that you’re such an idiot, right?

Joe: Yeah. So, there’s just I know that you’re in a different position than me. There’s just no chance that I would ever go into that situation with the goal of Matt Berkey thinking I’m a smart. I’m not that kind of person that’s like, if I’m not going to win this battle of wits, I’m going to make sure that we both lose and I’d probably just talk about farts the whole time. Just to be like, oh, you’re not going to outfart me brother. Good luck. Oh, for why does this smell so bad?

Brad: And there you go. And then at the end of the podcast, you’re asking yourself, was it too much? Was it too far?

Joe: Yeah, exactly. I would definitely ask that.

Brad: So, let’s talk about post Black Friday, and your success. And you mentioned that other folks didn’t. You know, they didn’t find success after that. Is there any commonality? Any reason why you think they struggled so much?

Joe: Yeah, I just got lucky. Like, I’m not going to comment on why they struggle, like, you know, all the money left America, you know, all the jobs that Americans had, and I’m not even just talking about poker players, I’m talking about poker industry. And it’s bounced back, obviously. But man, were the, was it fucking good times working in the poker industry? Before Black Friday, like, you know, there are just lots of jobs, lots of money, lots of marketing opportunities, lots of TV shows being produced, which was good for me. And then what happened was, you know, PokerStars, and full tilt, they pulled out of the US market, you know, they fucking packed it in real quick. And lots of people lost their jobs, lots of people lost, budding careers. And somehow, for me, just out of sheer luck, PokerStars said, we’re pulling out of America, but we still do television shows in the rest of the world. And I was like, oh, there’s a rest of the world. I forgot about that. And they very generously offered to keep me on, talking about poker in non-American markets. And I just got super lucky. And obviously, you know, they don’t do that as much anymore. There’s very little TV being produced by anybody, especially, I don’t think any online poker sites making TV right now. But for a long time, they marketed in Europe harder than ever, which meant more TV shows than ever. I think, the first year I moved to England, I think I did 52 episodes of the EDT. And what, I don’t care what TV show you’re on, very few people are doing 52 episodes, right? Like, you know, fleabag, she got six. Yeah, I got 52. So, I just was very, very lucky. And also, I was lucky that people believed in me, and that people went to bat for me. And people stuck their necks out for me, taking a chance on having a still relatively unproven person from America. Be the face and voice of their brand overseas.

Brad: Let’s talk about the goodness of these people who, who stuck their neck out, who believed in you, who is responsible

Joe: Over the years I’m sure I’ll miss some people but, just starting in poker. The first guy who probably believed in me, we had, Jesus, let’s go all the way back. Barry Shulman from card player magazine was one of the first people, was probably the first person in poker to hire me and I don’t think he really knew anything about me at that point, but he liked me enough to keep me around a little bit. And then a guy named Jason Newett, who was JD Edwards, his name was I was a full tilt employee for a long time. He hired me to do poker wire radio and basically handed me the keys to a podcast and said, it’s your show. You’re the host, do what you want and paid me a fair amount of money to do it. After that, Barry Greenstein started a company called Poker Road and he and Joe Seebach and, and Phil Ivey were guys that had enough faith in me to keep me employed by Poker Road. After that, I got hired by some guys at Ultimate Bet to do a TV show that didn’t last super long because I didn’t get along well with my boss there and then the big game was sort of percolating and then at that point, guys like John Duffy, John Caldwell, Barry Greenstein, again Daniel Negreanu, guy named Joe, I can’t remember anymore. Big, big wig stars named Joe something or other I, oh, he was such a nice guy too. I feel bad I don’t remember him. All had enough faith in me to try to get me on the big game and I wouldn’t have done it without the support of guys like Barry and Daniel, who really fought on my behalf to get me that job. After that, James Hart again, who is my co-host on the PCT and Francine Watson, are two people, it’s Francine is the person in charge of making the TV shows. I would have never been on those shows had Francine and James not stuck their necks out for me. Matt Moran’s a guy who stuck his neck out for me, hired me. He’s the guy that made the World Series of Poker TV shows, what we, you know, what we all fell in love with. He had some faith in me hired me for the NA PT. More ask and Donnie hired me to do ESPN for Poker Central. These people all took shots on me being not conventional. And someone that’s kind of a liability in certain ways. And the way that I treat the game fairly irreverently, I’d like to think those gambles all paid off with some good poker content that people remember that not only that, but also brings new people into the game. But yeah, man, there were some that I’m sorry if I forgot anyone, but there have been so many people that stuck their necks out for me. And that, you know, that’s, that’s, I put, that in the luck category as well.

Brad: So, let me let me ask you a question. Now, there is an army of folks behind you, that believed in you, all those amazing people that you mentioned. How lucky do you think it is that they all believed in you specifically?

Joe: I like to recognize the lust, the luck and the lust aspect of men.

Brad: Maybe you’re just a sexy dude, that they want to

Joe: Exactly. I could be the hottest shit. I like to recognize the luck aspect of it first, because it’s a pitfall that I see a lot of successful people fall into, where they want to attribute too much of their own success, to their own decision making and their own personalities. And I just think that most of the time, we got to give it a lot of it to luck, to the right place at the right time. And the fact that if it hadn’t been me, it would have been somebody else. 

Brad: Yeah, there is some luck involved. I think in most any endeavor, we can find the luck, especially if we look hard enough for it. My point is, all these same people, the commonality, they all believed in you and what you can do, which I think speaks to you.

Joe: Yeah, so having, having said that, of course, there are things about my decision making process and the way that I treat people that I think, helped me in those cases.

Brad: Oh!

Joe: And I think that being a likable person, is probably at the very least, nearly equally as important as talent. I think that if you’re a nice, kind, trustworthy, dependable person who treats others wells, others well, they want to see you succeed. They are now more interested in your success. And it’s easier for them to stick their neck out for you, it’s easier for them to want to take a chance on you, because they like you. And I think that being a likeable person, first of all, I think is, is something you can learn. I don’t think it’s something that you are necessarily born with or not born with, I think you can absolutely learn to be a nice, decent human being. And I think that that is incredibly important in just about any industry. Poker, being one of the least important actually. Now of course, there are lots of ways of being a nice likeable person helps you if you are a professional poker player, right? You get invited to games, you get better advice from people, there are some things but I think it is one of the only professions in the world where it affects, where it affects you the least, where you can still do quite well doing being a completely unlikable person. But for almost any other industry, you need that support of other people to be able to advance.

Brad: Yeah, I think it’s, it’s a double-edged sword. It, you can’t be not likable, and still succeed in poker to pokers detriment at the end of the day

Joe: Right.

Brad: Which, which can be hurtful in just a number of ways. And I want to go back, you know, you said that your process systematically, being nice to people, the way you treat people, what does that process look like? How did you get there?

Joe: That’s a good question. The process looks like me spinning a lot, I can tell you what it looks like more easily. It looks like me spinning a lot of plates. I say yes to everything. And everyone. I wasn’t completely familiar with who you were when you asked me to do this, but I’m, I’m the kind of person where I’m like, hey, this is another guy in the industry doing what we’re all trying to do. Absolutely. Happy to do it. I try to treat everyone the same kindness and respect, which does take a lot of energy. To be the kind of person who keeps their appointments, keeps track of your appointments. And, and replies to people with a, in a respectable amount of time, does take a considerable amount of energy. So, it does what it looks like is me being incredibly busy while not accomplishing very much at the same time.

Brad: Except that you’re building these relationships. And fueled your career, right?

Joe: Yes, exactly, exactly. You kind of lose sight of the, the, when you don’t get like a one to one immediate ROI on something, sometimes you forget that it is important. And of course, it is. But also, I’m not going to lie, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel good to give back. It makes me feel good that somebody wants me as a guest on their podcast. Wow. How fucking lucky am I that somebody gives a shit about what I have to say. Of course, of course, let’s not completely like let’s not ignore this opportunity. So that’s, I mean, it looks like that, it looks like a lot of me. I reply to every single person on Twitter, or Facebook that has something kind to say, on Twitter, sometimes it’ll just get a favorite. But if someone asked me a genuine question, in any medium, I reply to every single person. So, what it looks like is me sweating a lot, a lot of energy gets expended on my part, keeping that aspect. How we got there, I don’t want to be corny, but I got to say, my parents drill that shit into me, my parents, looking back on it, we’re inhuman, but in a good way. They just have this whole modicum of only Monica was the right word, they should have taught me what the word Monica, motto, I guess this sort of modus operandi of always do the right thing. Always tell the truth. Always be kind, don’t cheat, ever. So, shit growing up that most people like my mom, like when we would get home from the grocery store. And she would realize that we hadn’t paid for the case of water or something or something slipped into the cart, she would go back and pay for it. Now do I think that makes you a monster of a person, if you don’t go back and pay for it, of course not. But my parents went, the extra mile would stuff like that all the all the time to the point where that’s the person I have become, that’s the person that I want to be. And I do hold people to a relatively high standard, but not quite as I hold myself. So, I got to say my folks really, really drilled that into me. And I didn’t get along with them incredibly well, while this was going on. But now that I have some, some distance between me and those times, I’m very, very grateful that that’s, that’s the effort that they put in. 

Brad: And I think it’s, it’s pretty clear that they did a great job. It’s very generous, you know, our biggest, our most important commodities, our time and our energy, and to invest so much in the folks that that you barely know, I think says a lot about your character, your integrity. And I’m going to go back to it just over and over the point, your success. I would imagine is directly linked to that, like there, you know, you can take shortcuts in life. And that hurt your integrity, something like that’s going on, on in the poker world right now. And eventually, the House of Cards just falls down all around you. And you find yourself with very limited relationships, unlimited opportunity. So, I think it’s always the way to be is have high integrity, and do the right thing. And your mom and dad, they did very well, they did very well.

Joe: If anything, I’ve taken long cuts with the way that things have gone. Because I also had this sense of integrity drilled into me by my parents, I think went a little too far sometimes, to the point where when I am in situations where just a little bit of elbow grease, or a little bit of schmoozing or a little bit of, kind of putting someone in a spot to ask them for something that I want probably would have advanced me a little bit faster or a little bit different places, had I been more proactive in those situations. And I’m the kind of person who, even when someone finally comes to me with an opportunity, I’m like, ah, sure I and I don’t necessarily advocate that. There is again, there’s a balance to something like that. And I think I’ve erred too far in the passive direction. But that’s a choice I’ve made rather than err too far in the aggressive direction. But I do think yeah, there have been, if anything, I’ve taken long cuts, but I have what you’ve just talked about. I have the fact that I’m a real solid guy to sort of, is the, is the backup plan for that, is my safety net. That even if I am taking the long cut eventually I’m probably going to get there.

Brad: Yeah, and it ties into poker too. You know, there’s, there’s this balance that we all have to strike as far as humility.

Joe: Sure, yeah.

Brad: Self-reflection and then assertiveness at the same time. Like, as a poker player, you have to be good.

Joe:  How do you know exactly how good you are at all times? It’s really hard to know that.

Brad: Yeah, you have to be humble in that, you have to question your decisions, and question whether or not you’re growing in the way that you want to be to question 

Joe: But also, you have to have confidence in your decision. So, what do you do?

Brad: Yeah. Also when, when you’re facing, you know, his $6,000 bet on the river and a cash game, you have to have confident, confidence that yeah, you’re going to make this hero call with third pair, and just let the chips fall where they may. So, there’s all, there’s this balancing act. And if you go one way or the other, I think both are hurtful. But just being able to question and analyze and then just be assertive and be like, you know what? I don’t care if multiple people disagree with me, I think this is the right thing to do. And this is what I want to do.

What is up you future star of poker, you. Coach Brad here and I just wanted to take a moment to let you know about PKC poker. If you’re sitting there wondering to yourself, why? Why is coach Brad promoting this PKC poker app thing? Allow me a moment to explain my why. Battling in cash games has been my livelihood for the past 15 years. It’s how I survive and put food on the table for my family, which makes it imperative that I either test out or seek qualified opinions on all the poker platforms on the market. One juicy fine can mean the difference between a meh year and an amazing family vacation and why kind of year. With that said, I’ve tried almost all of the major poker apps on the market to date and despite the hype about amazingly juicy games, I’ve come away from the experience unsatisfied. I was just never able to find amazing success against seemingly weak competition. And in one specific case was getting outright destroyed by passive villains playing more than 50% of their hands. What on earth was going on, right? After many evenings sitting in the bathtub, wondering if I had lost it, I finally dug into the data and learn something that shouldn’t have been too surprising to you. These dudes were colluding and super using their pants off. So, I swore off those free money, decentralized devil apps and decided to go back to my more familiar streets of ignition. It was then that I was contacted by a good friend of mine who turned out to be the Vice President of Worldwide Operations at PKC. Him and I had a long in-depth conversation about security, the ecosystem and the future direction of PKC, and he managed to convince me to give it a shot. That shot turned into an incredible six months with an hourly rate that’s about five times what it would have been playing on any other US platform. As it turns out, I didn’t forget how to play, I just needed to be on a level playing field to return to my crushing ways. I have no doubt that you, my community, my audience is going to play online poker somewhere. And I want to be damn sure that you don’t go through the pain and frustration I felt by messing around with any poker app besides PKC. This is why promoting PKC is a no brainer for me. I love you, I love my community. And I want to put you in the best position to succeed at this game that we both love so much. So, if you’d like to join me in the streets of PKC, simply head to and get your invite code to play. You must have an invite code to play and you must be 21 years of age or older. One more time, that’s to get your invite code. Best of luck, and now on with the show.


Brad: Let’s segue a little because I have other questions.

Joe: Sure.

Brad: I don’t even know if I’ve asked you what am I

Joe: Was that one question? God! What a fucking blowhard. He has not got his first question and we are like 45 minutes.

Brad: What do you think about joy in your poker career? What’s the first memory that comes to mind?

Joe: Okay, so the very first thing that came to mind, I’m so embarrassed about it, was, let me tell you what, it’s not first. It should be, it’s not getting the big game. Because that was such a slow process that even the day before we were supposed to start filming, it wasn’t like 100% that I was going to do it. So, it wasn’t the big game. It wasn’t the EPT because I was terrified about moving overseas. So embarrassingly, the moment that it first came to mind of me just experiencing pure joy was the moment I got a blue checkmark on Twitter. And I know it’s so fucking lame, but I was so happy. And I was out for drinks with a couple of real hot suicide girls. I don’t know if you know what they are or not, but they’re, like all modeling. It’s like, it’s like it’s like saying Playboy Bunny, but for like chubby, tattooed girls. And I was out with a couple of them, and one of them was so impressed that she kissed me on the mouth. And we ended up going home together that night, like I got laid, literally got laid from getting a blue checkmark on Twitter. So that is dumb as it is, is of is like, is the first joyful moment of my career that popped up.

Brad: Oh my god.

Joe: So stupid. Obviously, it’s going to be penis related, right? There’s just no way.

Brad: If we’re being truthful, like you said, honestly, yeah, we want the truth. And the truth is, you know, that’s it. It’s, it’s related to the penis.

Joe: The other one is probably when Norm Macdonald asked me if I would open for him on the road as a stand-up comedian, and that would that’s a moment like, I jumped up and down.

Brad: Oh, yeah, that’s massive.

Joe: Yeah, that was, that was like as close to a dream come true moment as I’ve ever, you know, because you know, when you’re a kid, you don’t dream about Twitter. You know, like, I hope, I hope there’s something called Twitter and I get verified on it. No, but as a kid, you could be like, wow, fucking watch Norm Macdonald every single week, if not more, between Saturday Night Live and his late-night appearances. So, when he says, hey, man, I was thinking maybe you should open for me on the road. My fucking mind was blown. And that was like, like a shell shocked. I can’t even believe this is happening moment.

Brad: How did you meet Norm? Was it through poker, or through comedy?

Joe: Both, Norm was playing the Southpoint during the World Series a couple years ago when I was working, and a good friend of mine, Eric Danis, who I don’t know the name or not, he works for the GPI. He’s like one of the guys behind the scenes really keeping poker alive. And the mob GPI, and told me there were still tickets and that Norm is playing multiple nights, there’s still tickets available. So, I bought some. And after the show, me and my friends just couldn’t decide where we wanted to go. And he happened to walk out of the showroom. And I was like, you know, I’ve been around comedy. And I told you, I take long cuts. I don’t really, I’m not really like an aggressive, sort of introduce myself to people kind of person. But in this moment, it was just like, he’s right there. I kind of got to go say hi. And I did. And I was like, hey, Norm, I don’t, I know, you’re kind of into poker. He’s like, yeah, I know who you are. And I was like, oh, holy shit. Norm knows who I am. Oh, my God. And he gave me his, gave me his producers phone number, which I wasn’t sure if that was his way of brushing me off or not. But 

Brad: Did you show him that that Twitter check mark?

Joe: Well, we did. That’s how we ended up becoming tight was over Twitter DM. We started DM-ing each other the next day. And we just sort of got to know each other and had a lot in common. And slowly over time, we, he started asking me about comedy. And he asked me if he could watch some videos. And I sent them to him. And I didn’t hear back from him for like two weeks. So, I was like, well, that’s it. That’s over. And then out of nowhere, he was just like, hey, you want to open for me? And I was like, yeah, oh my God. Yes, please. And yeah, that was a, that was a that was a jump up and down moment. And I haven’t had a lot of those.

Brad: And I mean, that’s an amazing story, and slid right into his direct messages. And seduced him with your comedy.

Joe: Yeah. All right. Yeah, I did. I’ve fucking slid right into the DM.

Brad: And I think there’s a lesson here too, is that you had an opportunity to speak with him. And like you can, you could have or you could not have. And you went for it. And I think that there’s a lot of these opportunities in life, these moments where you can take the risk, or you can sit it out. And it’s very easy to be afraid of taking the risk. I mean, just speaking with people in the poker industry like people that you, you grow up watching on TV, introducing yourself, just go for it, like, you know, what’s the, what’s the worst that can happen, typically? 

Joe: Can I give everyone one piece of advice about going for it?

Brad: Yeah, go for it.

Joe: And people will use this as an excuse not to go for it and I want you to fucking listen to me and hear me. Go for it. Yes, but be ready for whatever thing it is you’re trying to get. And this is something I’ve hammered home and that, let’s say, you’re a screenwriter. And you see Steven Spielberg, and you decide to go for it. And you tell him, have I got a movie for you. He goes, cool. Send your script to my assistant. You better have that fucking script written.

Brad:  Yeah.

Joe: When you go up to Norm Macdonald. And you say, I’m a stand-up comedian, and I really love the shot to open for you. And he says, okay. You would better be a stand-up comedian. And what I did a mistake I made for a big portion of my life, like 10 years plus, is, I called myself the things I wanted to be, but I was not doing that. I called myself a comedian for far longer than I was actually doing stand-up comedy with any sort of regularity. And I eventually one day was like, you can’t call yourself a comedian and not do stand-up comedy. It just, you know, there’s some people that get away with that, but they’re, you know, out there on TV or whatever. And I was like, this just doesn’t work like that. Get out there and do it. You can’t call yourself a sketch comedy writer and not have sketches. You can’t, you need to be ready for that moment. And I don’t mean, to keep putting that moment off. What I mean is start getting ready, right fucking now. If you meet, whoever it is, and they have the money to put you in some big game, if you’re a poker player, and you meet investor, be ready for that game. Don’t be like, well, I’m not quite ready. No. You got to be ready.

Brad: Hey, what’s the what’s the expression? I think its success is luck plus opportunity.

Joe: I think its luck is opportunity when opportunity meets preparation.

Brad: That was luck, that was luck meets preparation. Who knows what we’re trying to say?

Joe: Anyway, there’s other key portions to that. Preparation being one of them, and that’s the one. That’s right, you can start doing that right now. And so, if you listen to me on other podcasts that I don’t want to cheat you, but I said do the thing.

Brad: Yeah.

Joe: You got to do the thing. Whatever the thing is, you got to do it.

Brad: Stapes I’m secure. I’m secured my podcast is you can talk about another podcast. It’s fine.

Joe: Oh, that’s okay. Just out of courtesy that I wouldn’t do that on any show just because whatever. Its your show. It’s your time.

Brad: No.

Joe: This is our time. It’s our time down here, Mikey. 

Brad: Yeah, this is your time, actually not my time. I’m the, I’m the facilitator. So, let’s go to the opposite question. Question number two, now that we’re an hour in. When you think about pain in your poker career, what’s the first memory that comes to mind?

Joe: Not being asked, but I didn’t I wasn’t asked back to do the World Series of Poker this year. That was pain. You know, that was pain, especially watching it, especially watching along and seeing how great a job everyone was doing and how much everyone loved the coverage this year. That was painful. It was difficult for me to watch it and actually watch a lot of the coverage as a result.

Brad: Why didn’t they ask you back?

Joe: I was told it’s, it was budget that they just didn’t have the money for me this year. And that’s, that’s entirely probably what happened but you know, it’s a business where it could be any number of reasons and it’s just easier to say budget sometimes so I don’t you know, I have no reason to doubt them except for that again that part of my personality is to, is to lean toward a you know, as a more possible pessimistic and or self-critical answer to that, rather than just being like, dude to do I’m the best in the world. There was just a budget cut, and go probably was but also maybe there’s something that you did

Brad: That you lost it.

Joe: Yeah, that didn’t work out for them. So, that was pain but knowing that you know, season two the big game was never going to air on TV with my best friend, we finally gotten on television together and it never ended up airing, that was painful. Awesome poker. Honestly, I feel pain every time someone I’m, I’m a person that trolls they hit me pretty hard. They don’t, doesn’t ruin my day. It doesn’t, I don’t lose sleep over it. But I do feel pain from trolling and bullying and some of that pain comes from, I get offended but I get personally offended this much. But I get offended for the world like this much, meaning that I can’t believe there’s such an asshole like this out there. And like, yes, it’s directed at me. So, I notice it. But I’m just like, when I fight with trolls, when I slap back, it’s not a personal thing. It’s just that I don’t like the fact that you exist at all. And I want to put you on blast for being such a shitty person. You know, this isn’t a word, irregardless of what you’ve said to me, I want the world to know that you’re just an awful person in general. In fact, just today, I find that people who are shitty to strangers, it’s like 99% of the time, because they’re in pain. There’s something going on in their lives, that makes them unhappy. They’re unhappy people. And of course, when I fight back, that doesn’t help. And so, what I try to do a lot of the time is say, hey, man, you seem like you’re in a lot of pain. This happened literally today, I said, I’m going to follow you for the next 24 hours. If you want to DM me and talk to me about what’s really going on. Let’s talk about it. And the guy wrote back with like two or three shitty responses, and then finally DM me and opened up to me about what was going on in his life. And I said, man, that really sucks. And I’m sorry, you’re going through that. But if I could just make a recommendation, I promise you, your life will be somewhat better. If you flip the script on this, and you put positivity and kindness out into the world, I promise you, things will be incrementally better than they are right now. And we handed out over a couple of messages. And he said, you know what Stapes, you know, it was your birthday recently, I’m going to try to be less, less cunty. And I said, you know what, man, I’m just going to ask you to go one step further. And don’t just be less cunty. Be, just be nice. I promise you, I promise you what you get out of it will be so much greater than what you get out of being shitty to people. And he said he would try. And to have a reasonable car. It took a long time to get there. It took a lot of energy on my part. My girlfriend this morning thinks I was working fucking hard. Then, again getting back into bed with her. When really, I’m typing back and forth with a troll. I don’t know why I started talking about that.

Brad: It’s

Joe: Oh, it’s that, that’s moments that caused me pain.

Brad: I mean, that’s so overwhelmingly compassionate, to go on.

Joe: I’m not capable of it all the time. Sometimes I just want to dunk kind of fucking troll and I do.

Brad: Of course, you’re human.

Joe: Right. But one thing that I am consistent on is that it went, and oftentimes people back down. And oftentimes people say I just wanted your attention, or I don’t know why I did that, you seem like a good guy. I always say, it’s cool, dude. We got, I don’t always make the extended effort that I did with this fella today. But I will 100% back down when people do. I just want, anyone who happens to be observing what’s happening to recognize this isn’t how you’re supposed to treat people. But then when people show some sort of growth, to give them that encouragement and to let the other people who might be observing know, I’m not a monster. I just want people to be decent.

Brad: And you’re you hit the nail on the head. The way people act on the outside is a reflection of how they feel on the inside.

Joe: Yeah.

Brad: And I get the same feelings when I see people being just awful to one another. And with some shame, I’ll say, in my life, I tried to grow as a human being. It’s something that I try to put awareness into, and actively do. But like, I just, hold on, what was my tangent? I went, I was thinking about two things at once and lost both of them.

Joe: Well, you were talking about we start off talking about pain, but we eventually start what

Brad: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, so it makes me feel, I get sad when I see human beings say these awful things to one another. And if I let it take control, I can I, it can ruin days, you know, I can I can sit on lay on my couch and do nothing and just think like, what’s the point? Like, what’s the point of doing these things because humanity can be so, so awful to each other. But that that level of compassion and to like, you know, one thing that I’ve learned in life is people want connection, right? Like everybody wants connection. Nobody wants to be lonely. And I’m ashamed to say that for a lot of my life, like just a homeless person, for example, right? My reaction was to pretend they weren’t there, to look the other way, to treat them as sort of like non-human type thing. Or maybe it’s like some subconscious guilt at their sign,

Joe: Yeah, I mean it’s easier on you to not process that, whereas your acknowledgment of it doesn’t really do anything to help the situation but does bring you down. 

Brad: Yeah. And so now, now I’ve started whenever I walk past a homeless person, I’ve tried to stop and just shake their hand. And

Joe: Oh, that’s nice to stop. Yeah.

Brad: And ask them their name. Because so many times, like, it’s so easy to ignore somebody, when they, when they’re nameless, they don’t have a name. They don’t have a story. When you know somebody’s name, like when you shake a, shake somebody who’s homeless, their hand, and you realize like this, this guy’s name’s Adam. And you’re like, wow, like, there’s a story here. And this is a struggling human being that’s in pain. And I’ve been ignoring them for a lot of my life. I mean, that that’s another like, wake up call for me. And it’s like, okay, like, there’s room here to do a lot better, be more compassionate to our fellow man.

Joe: Yeah, that’s great. That’s, I mean, that’s goes pretty beyond where I’m at. If I stopped and asked every homeless person’s name on just the walk to the gym in the morning, I’d be about 40 minutes late, because there’s genuinely an encampment that lives right under my apartment building here in LA, but

Brad: You live in LA, so who can afford, who can afford houses in LA?

Joe: Exactly. So, but you know, but acknowledging people and making eye contact and just treating them, you know, like you would any other person on the street is absolutely important. And, you know, I think that if you’re listening to this, I don’t think that not doing that makes you a bad person. I’m not looking to demonize folks that don’t do those things. I’m not, it’s not about guilt, or saying something’s better or worse than anything else. It’s just an example of a way that we can just try to grow and just try to put a little bit more kindness into the world. But we all do it in different ways. Right?

Brad: Yeah. It’s offering a different perspective than what you’re used to, or what you’re normal to, or what how you normally react, right?

Joe: Yeah, or what’s, what’s comfortable to you.

Brad: What’s comfortable to you like, like, you can react to a troll with anger, and you can bash them and battle them. You can ignore homeless folks. Or you can realize that, yeah, this is a part of human suffering, just as a whole. And maybe instead of letting it ruin my day or ignoring it, it’s an opportunity to help out and help ease some of that suffering.

Joe: Absolutely, yeah. And I think that in, especially in situations where it costs us nothing, we should be looking to ease suffering, or at the very least, don’t create more. And that’s what I really don’t understand about the troll situation, is that, doing nothing costs you nothing, right? Being kind costs almost next to nothing, right? It is like takes very little energy to be kind to go out of your way, to cause someone distress and harm is more difficult than not doing that. So, when people go through, jump through hoops to be cruel, that’s when my sort of anti-bullying sort of kicks in. And I’m like, alright, dude, here we go. Because you could have done nothing. But instead, you’ve chosen to make the world a worse place. And now I’m pissed.

Brad: Let’s get to the bottom of it. But you know, let’s imagine a 10-year-old bully. Where do you think that comes from?

Joe: I mean, I got bullied a lot as a kid. I was like

Brad: No, no, no, not, not, not. But

Joe: Where does it come from?

Brad: Where the bullies? Where does that?

Joe: Yeah, I mean look, I think for the most part, the lines that my parents fed me as a kid were true, but just impossible to see then. Bullies are scared. Bullies are being bullied. Bullies don’t lie. They’re up

Brad: By their parents.

Joe: Yeah, by their parents or by older brother, whatever it is, you know, but bullies are being bullied, or bullies are jealous of you. I think nine times out of ten, one of those factors is true. Every once in a while, you got someone that’s just like a piece of shit. And they’re like, have no real reason to be or maybe it comes from a much deeper-rooted sort of mental illness where they hate themselves for some other reason. Most of the time though

Brad: A sociopath or

Joe: Yeah, exactly. But most of the time, you can trace it back to some specific thing that’s causing it, you know, harm begets harm. The victim becomes the perpetrator in almost all cases. People who get cheated on become cheaters. People who are lied to become liars. People who get scammed become scammers. And this cycle of just ill will, does perpetuate itself. And which is part of the reason why I tried to have negativity end with me, and to and to absorb that negativity and look, like I said, I’m not perfect at it. I put a lot of negativity out there too, what I think is fairly reciprocated negativity. But I do try to make up for that by putting as much or more effort into positivity as well. 

Brad: It’s a great way to be and I do want to make the point to that. I’m not, you know, because I shake hands with, I don’t think super highly of myself.

Joe: Sure. Sure. Sure. Aren’t we fucking great. I fucking nice to people on Twitter. I shake homeless people’s hand. Where’s my seat? Where’s my Halo, please? I almost said saint hat. Where’s my saint ring?

Brad: Where’s your saint ring at Joe? Yeah, yeah, it’s, I don’t know where I’m going with that. But I do, there’s always, there’s always more to do. And the only reason that this is something that I point out is because it’s something that I’ve struggled with. And I think that a lot of times when people talk about these things, they are that that when they talk about things they’ve thought about a lot there’s a reason, right? Like if I talk to you about sleeping habits, and how to sleep better at night, and I have all this knowledge, well, it’s because I have problems sleeping, right? Like it stems from an area in my life that I want to get better at. So that’s one area that I’ve really thought about it and serving other people and trying to just do things the best way that I can and question stuff. And that just, that stems from a long period of ignorance and being a shitty human that I think it will do.

Joe: I think better. Poker players are particularly good at this, though, that when you get into a conversation with a poker player, on Twitter, on Facebook, in real life, generally, anything that they know anything about, they know a lot about it. It’s like well researched. And I think a lot of poker players treat topics, they’re interested in the same way they treat poker, which is to find out everything they can about it. And I do think that that’s a very admirable, admirable aspect of poker players is that they do want to be educated on topics, and many of them educated on both sides of a particular topic too before they, I’m not saying that they all fence straddle, every single topic. But most of them, at least the ones I surround myself with, have informed themselves on most of the angles of various topics before they get entrenched in one side or the other.

Brad: Or beliefs not worth very much if you’re not willing to hold your side of the argument of the scrutiny. 

Joe: Sure

Brad: If you’re not willing to question your side, that belief is not worth very much, right. And if you’re going to have a belief, then I feel like you ought to at least learn all the different angles. And that’s another mistake that I’ve made in my life is like, I grew up in the Bible Belt, right, in the southeastern United States. And there’s a lot of things that you’re taught, and you grew up thinking that they’re just capital T truths, that and then, you know, I moved to LA, and it’s a little different. It’s a little different, a little different experience. And so just questioning all the things that we assumed to be truths, because we grew up with them, because our parents told us to believe X, Y, or Z is something that I go back to as well. And it’s like, okay, let’s question this because I don’t want to live my life in a way that’s not really true to myself. I don’t want to live somebody else’s life. I want to live my life.

Joe: I don’t want your life.

Brad: There you go.

Joe: First. The Blues. It’s probably too old for you. Don’t worry.

Brad: No, I was probably like, 14 or 15.

Joe: Yey, I think you’re going to say four

Brad: No, no, 14 or 15. Billy Bob actually went to my high school, oddly enough that you say that. Who I believe me believe passed away now. That’s not funny.

I will

Joe: Wait, Billy Bob Thornton’s dead?

Brad: No, no, the guy that played

Joe: Played illegally, Billy Bob. Because honestly, I couldn’t believe it because I was like, yeah, I don’t. I don’t. I don’t think.

Brad: Okay, yeah, the guy that the guy that played him. Okay, so let’s go back. Let’s imagine a carbon copy of yourself, that’s out there. They’re 10 years younger than you though.

Joe: Can I fuck the carbon copy of myself without it necessarily being a gay thing? I mean, I don’t mind if it is I going to experiment, but I think that would be interesting.

Brad: What would

Joe: Anyway, different podcasts, different podcasts continue.

Brad: No, no, I’m sure, what would that look like? I don’t have

Joe: We don’t want to, we don’t want to know what it look like.

Brad: How do you seduce your 10-year-old?

Joe: It would be all, it would be all hand jobs, probably, because that’s all I know how to do with myself, it would just be a lot of jaberi

Brad: I don’t know if you had your Twitter checkmark 10 years ago, but you could be like, look, you do this. This is what you get. This is my

Joe: Its like that milk commercial where they, remember that, when we were kids and they came was like looking in the mirror and drinking milk. And it was like the 20-year-old version of himself. And this is like hot Bay bottom. And she’s like, keep drinking milk. And this is where you’ll be and he’s like, bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. Anyway

Brad: Except your hot babe is yourself. So

Joe: Exactly. Look, you could land this.

Brad: If you try very hard. Okay, so we got a carbon copy of ourselves, that we’re not going to sodomize or molest. If you could sit that that human down and give him some advice, what advice would that be?

Joe: Okay, so I’m 31 years old. And I’m imagining myself

Brad: Let’s say 15. Since you’re 24-year-old, your brain brains not fully developed yet.

Joe: Some, mostly some of the things that we’ve touched on already, I would tell myself to work a little bit harder. At 23 years old, I had a very good job, making a really decent amount of money for a 23 year old, but I wasn’t, that distracted me from chasing my dreams. It was like a dream, adjacent job. And in my mind, I was like, that’s good enough. I’m making money. I’m dreamer Jason. And I kind of stopped working hard at pursuing the things I really wanted one. Two, I wasn’t honest with myself about what I really wanted. Now, when I moved to Los Angeles, and I was in my early 20s, I never really admitted it to myself that I wanted to be a performer, that I wanted to be in front of the camera. The fact that I ended up in front of the camera, despite not having worked at it at all, or even admitted to myself that that’s what I secretly wanted is incredible. But also like, man, imagine if I had. Imagined if I had actually, this dream declared delivered that goal and gone for, what might have I achieved? Now, we can never really know might be less than I’ve achieved doing it this way. But, you know, chances are, I probably would have achieved it sooner and to greater intensity. So that’s two, which really should be one. Be honest with yourself. Go out one last night a week and work hard at your thing, right? I was party and Friday, Saturday, Sunday night, if I just stayed in one of those days, written, worked on stand up, I think that would have been better. And then three probably would be something that you touched on that I wasn’t really good at, which is the go for it, right? Because I’ve already done one and two in this scenario. Now I have the standup ready to go I have this script, ready to show Steven Spielberg so now three, when I run into Quentin Tarantino at a party, don’t shy away from him, engage him and go for it. So those would be the things. Now, not to get too meta on you. I’m real happy with the way things turned out so not sure I’d like want to fuck with the timeline, but assuming that this advice would improve things and not you know, like I said not in like a science fiction way like who knows what would have happened? Those are the pieces of advice I would give

Brad: This is your carbon copy who gets to live their own life separate from you. So

Joe: Right I guess I don’t have to worry about messing up my timeline. It’s just to see there’s be a little fruit you know, more fruitful.

Brad: Yeah, you’re serving, serving your carbon copy out there in a positive way.

Joe: Yeah. That’s probably the three I think those three things and then maybe just maybe just to you know, spend less money on girls. Just you know, maybe not hand my credit card over so often. Every time some girl in LA needed a new set of tires or cell phone bill paid.

Brad: So, you have a little you regret and in the credit card over? Tell me you can honestly go back in those moments and see yourself not handing your credit card over.

Joe: I mean, I wouldn’t change a thing. Honestly, like, am I owed 10s of 1000s of dollars due to various relationships or times I’ve been taken advantage of by people I was trying to date? Yes. Would I take any of it back? Not really. I’ve had some good times. It’s been all right. Like I’m doing okay.

Brad: I can imagine to you, I, getting the feeling, you know, you’re very giving guy, very generous guy. And those are the types of guys that can be taken advantage of by some opportunistic folks. However

Joe: Yeah, and also, it’s not their fault a lot of the time. If I’m offering, if I’m, you know, putting it out there, maybe they’re not opportunistic. Maybe I’m just like, going too far in that direction. So, I don’t blame those people, either.

Brad: That’s true, too.

Joe: Yeah, I wish that I had a little bit more savings now. But other than that, it’s, it’s all good. I got it, as a generous person, I got pleasure out of doing it, right. It’s not like I didn’t get anything out of it. I get to go like, what a fucking great guy I am, just paid that girl’s cell phone bill, who I’m definitely never going to see again, because of my phone.

Brad: I was out to dinner with a friend one time and he wanted to buy me dinner. I was refusing. You know, I was like, no, man, I got it. Like, it’s no big deal. And he just stopped me. And he said, Brad, don’t, don’t steal my blessing. Don’t take my blessing for me.

Joe: Nice.

Brad: And that was a way, that was a different perspective that I hadn’t considered where him paying for dinner made him feel good. And it made him feel happy and fulfilled and like he was serving a friend. And so now I accept free dinners.

Joe: People buy me dinner, too. Absolutely. I used to put up a fight, I used to write were always paid. And I’m like, you know what, especially if the person isn’t poor. I’m like, yeah, thanks for dinner. Thanks a lot. And I kind of like a sliding scale. If they are not super financially independent. I just go, how much do I do? I think it’s really going to give this person. Like I have this policy when I run into fans and public places like I don’t want them to buy me a beer. I should be buying them a beer, but sometimes I can just tell it really means a lot to them to buy me a beer. I put myself in that situation if I was out with Norm, what I want him to let me buy him a beer. Absolutely, I would. I wouldn’t care if it was my last 10 bucks. Like I’d, that would be what I want to do. So, it’s exactly at let that you know, let people do the things they want to do. It’s not always taking advantage just to accept something from other people.

Brad: Agreed. Agreed. So, I got a couple more questions. And then I’ll let you go deal with Twitter trolls.

Joe: I actually like blasted off. I won right before we got on the air. I’m not going to look at the replies. I’m just going to look at how many I have right now. 25. Holy shit, that’s a lot that’s adding at me.

Brad: Looks like whatever you said, got their attention and got

Joe: Probably the thing is I got I wanted to get the attention of my other followers, which is kind of bully. Like I said, I’m a, I’m a human being sometimes

Brad: Very multipurpose thing. You’re taking the troll and turning it into content. So, then

Joe: We troll. Exactly. I’m really trolling him

Brad: Then at the end of the day, you can think to yourself, yeah, I created some great content today for my Twitter followers, by battling with this troll all day.

Joe: I like the way you think.

Brad: If you could wave a magic wand, and change one thing about the poker world, what would it be?

Joe: I mean, it would, it would in, would intrinsically destroy the entire game of poker. So, part of the reason why I am not much of a poker player is that I hate losing. But I also don’t get a lot of joy out of winning. I like winning money. I like stacking chips. I don’t love eating other people. It’s not really my thing. I get nothing from the competition of it. And I genuinely feel sometimes, not all the time, sometimes feel a little bit bad. Like oh, sorry

Brad: Come on, Joe. A little bit, just a little bit?

Joe: Karma. Nah, I don’t believe in karma. Honestly, in a magical sense. I do believe in karma in a sense of that our actions have a real time, cause and effect that have sometimes circle back to us. Or oftentimes circle back to us. I don’t believe in some magical force. There’s just way too many shitty people out there who are doing too well to have karma actually be a thing. But it’s just that it doesn’t make me feel good. And so, for me if I was going to change poker, it would be to make it less of a selfish game but that just ruins poker in general, which is why I just don’t play very often. I like to play low stakes cash games, I like to play with my friends, it’s purely a social thing for me. And so, I’m happy for poker to be what it is, and somewhat cutthroat for the people that want it to be. But for me, I would just take the edge out of poker, and make it somehow, somehow, like playing with rubber bullets, would be what I would do to poker, but, you know, I think poker is a nearly perfect game, the way it is. And the people who are involved mostly know the risks. So as far as the game of poker, I wouldn’t change much of the poker industry. I would just, I don’t know, I would like to play around a little bit more with some TV poker formats and see if I can’t find a good combination that gets poker popular on TV again. That would be really cool. Like I don’t, as a non-player, I just, I wouldn’t make too many changes to it. Because it’s not up to me. It’s up, you know, it’s you. Its you guys are really, really good.

Brad: Yeah, it was a poker world. So, I think that that includes you, right? It could be anything related to the poker world. And you said something that that’s, it’s so crazy on doing this show. So, I have struggled with that exact same thing. The predatory aspect of poker. For I’ve played cards for 15 years professionally, I’ve struggled with it for probably 13. This fact that you can’t get around that when you’re battling against somebody, like when I win a $10,000 pot, somebody lost a $10,000 pot. Yeah, as bad as I feel losing a $10,000 pot when I win when somebody feels that way. That is something that I felt. It made me feel weak, as a poker player, and I could rationalize it. And I also felt that I was the only person that felt that way. And doing this podcast, talking to folks, cash games

Joe: Is that common?

Brad: It’s very common. Almost every single one of them go through this existential crisis of like, am I just a predator? Am I just hurting folks? What am I giving back to the world? How do I give back more to the world? How do I serve people? And that’s why I think you see a lot of poker players 10 to 15 years into their career trying to move on to do other things.

Joe: They do other things. And there’s plenty of philanthropy in poker. I mean, lots of poker players are doing great jobs of putting positivity into the world, both emotionally and literally. So, you know, with whether it be donations or running charity organizations, there is lots of that. And I think the poker industry is probably better than average. For those sorts of gestures being made.

Brad: The poker community surprises me over and over and over again. And I don’t know why it surprises me. The whole cheating scandal that’s gone on recently, the poker community uncovered it up the poker community uncovered it. I’ve had things that have happened in my life, that people

Joe: I mean they uncovered it because they were like, nobody should be winning this shows like pure like jealousy.

Brad: That’s true. That’s true. That’s true. Maybe that’s not a great example. But you know, I’ve had experience in my life

Joe: No, but, but the process of the uncovering of it, the process of the sharing of information, and the hard work that went into it, I think is more what you’re, what you’re, I’m making a joke out of it. But there is absolutely something cool about the way in which this has happened, amongst other things in the poker community.

Brad: I mean, I’ve had experiences that have been very tricky. And I’ve had people go to bat for me that I barely knew that I

Joe: Cool.

Brad: That I only played cards against a few times. And for whatever reason, I do make it a point to try to be jovial and happy and entertaining at a poker table. Because as a cash game player, I mean, your goal is to, people want to have a good time. And plus, I have a good time, when I’m acting happy and talking and having a discussion and not throwing a fit when I lose, and all of these things and getting to know people in creating personal relationships. But a guy went to bat for me that I barely even knew I couldn’t have picked them out of a lineup and bailed me out. And I just, I see this over and over and over. There’s some really giving generous, compassionate folks that play cards.

Joe: For sure.

Brad: And I think that card playing, it’s a beautiful game. It’s, it’s poker is an amazing, it’s a beautiful game, I think you obviously can’t take out, you can’t play with rubber bullets, right? Because there’s this element of pressure and the stakes and play that that’s what makes it exciting. Right? And you know, in every sport and every competition, you know, in football, an average career is three years. So, every time somebody gets drafted and makes an NFL team, somebody loses a spot, right? So, there’s all turnover, the turnover, turnover, this churn and turnover in all these competitive endeavors. It’s like, it’s something that’s just has to happen. But, but yeah, the poker community is very generous, very giving. And I love them. And in my own way, that that’s how the podcast came about in just wanting to serve and give back as much as I can. Because you take something, you take for like 15 years or 10 years and you’re like, okay, how can I

Joe: That’s best case scenario you take.

Brad: Yeah, that’s best. That’s what you’re, that’s the goal, right? But anyway, that’s a whole tangent. What’s something people would be surprised to learn that you’re horrible at?

Joe: And I think people be surprised to learn I’m horrible at anything. It seems like whatever it is, I end up being honest about being horrible at people are pretty, not surprised by that. What am I horrible at? I am horrible at singing, shouldn’t be much of a surprise. I’m not great at acting, acting is actually a lot harder than it looks. And I’m constantly trying to become a better actor. I am horrible at, one thing I’m horrible at is saying no to people, to the point where I will often sort of my close friends and family will pay for that in a way that they probably shouldn’t. Whereas like, you know, I’m on my anniversary, and I’m doing two podcasts today, that sort of thing.

Brad: I hope that’s not today.

Joe: It’s not today, it’s fine. There’s nothing like that going on. Those are all things that I’m not good at. I’m you know, as a comedian, we’re people pleasers, right? That’s like, literally what I’ve chosen as my profession. So sometimes I’m bad at drawing a line there. I’m bad at having boundaries for what I will do for not only strangers, but for friends and for family. I kind of I’m really bad at having boundaries. I don’t know if that’s surprising to people or not. But I’m pretty bad at that. 

Brad: It’s, once, it’s hard to turn the switch off, I think. And have you do you think you’ve improved at that over the years?

Joe: Yeah. And I’m really good at like being having no boundaries to a point. And I’ve actually tried to teach people this and that. Sometimes when it comes to saying no to something, or to giving someone an uncomfortable answer, I tend to go straight at it. And like let’s say for example, a fan asked me for my phone number. Now if a fan asked me to DM me, no problem, if a fan asked me, can I come say hi and a poker event? No problem. If a fan asked me hey, can you record a video for me to say happy birthday to my uncle who’s also a fan? I generally do it.

Brad: Does that happen?

Joe: Yeah. I generally do it even though there’s a site where I can charge for it. Now I’m trying to avoid that. 

Brad: Better be careful. We get, we get 50,000 people listening to this, you’re going to have somebody’s birthday request.

Joe: Yeah, I’m going to have to put a don’t ask me to do that, anyway. But if someone asked me for my phone number, I will just look at them ago. What, are you nuts? I’m not giving you my phone number. And I find that answering in that way is actually kinder, is, yeah, kinder, and easier on the ears than being like, ah, no, I don’t really give out my phone number to like, read, it’s nothing personal, which is honest, and sort of you feel like is a more gentle way of putting it. But I just find me like you crazy? No, I’m not going to invite you back to my house, I don’t know you, is actually just like an easier way for us all to get out of it. So, I have developed this technique and I have gotten a little bit better at drawing boundaries. Yes, to answer your question.

Brad: Stapes. Can I have your number?

Joe: Absolutely not. You’ve got my email address. What more do you need, Brad?

Brad: I want it all. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it. What’s the project you’re working on that’s near and dear to your heart.

Joe: So, remember how I said do the thing, have the script, have whatever. I’m getting at the point in my career where there’s not a lot of poker work at the moment. Like there’s, I’m going to go do some episodes of Poker Night in America. A couple of weeks, and then I’m going to record some episodes of the PCA at the beginning of December and after that I have no poker TV scheduled for, for all of 2020. I don’t know what’s going on Poker Night America, World Series of poker as we discussed, I’m not really doing that anymore. The EPT doesn’t appear to be filming anymore new episodes. So, I’m at a point where I need to be ready for the next opportunity. So, I am writing a pilot, I have attempted, when I say attempted, I’ve written the first page of many, many, many pilots. I’m currently further in this pilot than I’ve ever been in any other. And I have a writing meeting directly after this. To keep it going. I’m writing it with a partner. I don’t want to say too much about it. But it is it does have some poker elements to it.

Brad: When is it going to be done? So, I’m a big, so I’m a big believer in social accountability, what are you going to get done?

Joe: We are as a reasonable goal, we are aiming to have it done by the first of the year. Because if we don’t get it done, like, by Thanksgiving, nothing will happen anyway. With this, it’s things kind of shut down around the holidays. But when people get back in January, that’s when we can get it out there and get people reading stuff. So, we have our we have the new year as a as like a soft deadline, but it’s more like a soft deadline in that. Hey, let’s finish it before that. And let’s have it ready to show people in 2020. So, thank you for that. Thanks for the accountability there. Say it out loud, say it loud, say it proud.

Brad: We speak the things you know, when you tell people, it’s about like goal setting, like I told you before, you know, it’s creating social accountability. You can say I’m going to quit smoking in, in three months. But when you put it on Facebook and you say, hey, I’m quitting smoking, because not going to be able to my life’s going to be shortened. And I’m not going to be able to spend enough time with my children.

Joe: Because I’m sick of looking so damn sexy every time I take a drag.

Brad: Yeah, that’s true. Overload of sexiness to other human beings. Very bad. But when you tell people, you put it out there, that makes you way more likely to follow through and get it done.

Joe: Yeah.

Brad: And as a, this might be a tangent. I know you’re, you’re short on time. And I don’t want to be that person that that takes you away from writing.

Joe: No, give me, give me. Come on.

Brad: Why do you think poker, why do you think these opportunities for televised poker? Why are they drying up? Like why is Poker not just exploding across the world?

Joe: Honestly, I think it’s because games have come a long way. And poker is 100,000 years old. Poker is, it’s like saying like, why isn’t the horse and buggy being used more often and you know, people

Brad: People have been playing football for a long time too. And it’s, it’s gains in popularity, people have been riding horses, and you know, they’re sponsored rodeos and stuff on TV. What’s lacking in poker? What can be added to poker to make it more compelling?

Joe: I don’t, I don’t know how to make poker more compelling. I know, that right, what is lacking, and I don’t know how to fix it is an audience. That the poker audience is too small to overcome mainstream advertisings fears of it. So Southwest Airlines can be like, yeah, I don’t know, if I really want to sponsor poker, like isn’t poker kind of shady. And the reason why they can get away with that is because the audience is small, or as we know, that if something is popular enough, people will look past whatever horrible things are associated with it. And there just isn’t the money there for them. And I think that poker is wonderful, and it’s cool. And if there’s a way to get that out there with poker TV, I said, I’d like an opportunity to experiment a little bit more with bringing poker back into television. I think unfortunately, like many things in the world, the audience and the audience’s time is divided by a lot of other very distracting things. There are mobile games, and console games, and PC games, and pornography, and podcasts, and books and movies and TV up the fucking Wazoo. That, for me, I get a lot of enjoyment out of binge watching a Netflix TV show. And the enjoyment I get out of spending that much time playing poker is not always comparable. It just isn’t. It’s not for me, and I think it’s not for a lot of people too. And I think that poker has a lot of competition out there. There’s a lot of fucking great stuff out there to take up our time and money. It’s hard to compete with virtual reality, which is here with, have you seen how good games are? Have you seen Red Dead Redemption? You can play poker in Red Dead Redemption?

Brad: I can, I have PSVR. And I can see the beauty of it for about 10 minutes and then I spew my guts out everywhere.

Joe: I do. I get a little sick to my stomach, I have a PSVR as well. It doesn’t always jive with me either. But my point is that, especially, you know, we’re sort of grandfathered into poker. Imagine if, instead of having a deck of cards as a kid, you’ve got an iPad? Are you ever going to think like, you’re going to be like, what are these tiny pieces of paper, you have to touch with your hands? I think that, you know, poker is just somewhat archaic. And I love it. And I see the beauty in it. And I’m not sure as someone that is born that turns 18 years old, or 21 years old. And the next week or two will ever know that beauty because they’ve got so many other things in their hands that are also, in my opinion, worthwhile.

Brad: I, there, there are tons of worthwhile things. And that that is the, the economy of the world is driven by our attention. And everything battles for our attention, like you said. And from a cynical point of view, maybe there’s only so many times we can see guys sticking in six big blinds for a million dollars before it wears off. 

Joe: And that’s why from the very beginning of my commentary career, I said, every time this happens, I’m going to say something funny and different.

Brad: And you have to because, you know, there’s only so many times and I like Mike Sexton. There’s only so many times you can hear that somebody catches lightning in a bottle, before you’re like, okay, I get it. Like he caught lightning in a bottle. We can, we can predict it. And we can. Yeah, I don’t want to say I don’t want to talk trash about Mike Sexton

Joe: Oh, no, of course, I used to say there’s only so many times you can see ace, king versus ace, queen. And, and have that be compelling. Unless the commentary, unless you’re being entertained by the show you’re watching. So, I think it’s important to care about the players. I think it’s important, as you said, to know what the story is leading up until that point, because that’s what’s different. The fact that ace queen sucks out isn’t even really that rare. What is rare is this particular person’s journey. And I think that the way you present it, if you can do it, and, and obviously, I’m biased toward comedy, if you can do it in a comedic way. That is, in my opinion, the way to keep that situation that we’ve seen a million times before, keep a compelling, look at regular TV, right? We’ve seen scorned lovers a million times before, but that story gets told over and over again. Because we, there’s a different set of circumstances surrounding it. And we are entertained by the way it’s presented. So, I do think that there’s still hope for poker, and that we can make, but maybe it’s bias on my part. I don’t know, I think that no, I think there’s some life left in poker.

Brad: Poker is a great game. It’s very compelling. And like we talked about before, everybody’s stories are great. There’s amazing narratives, based on the journey of playing cards. And an issue too, as far as you know, production costs and things like that. If there’s not an abundance of money flowing into poker, then there’s not enough money to test and try different, different things that could be successful.

Joe: And, you know, I got to hand it to Poker Central. They’re trying, you know, they’re out there every day putting poker on TV, on their app, whatever you want to call it. And they are really doing everything they can to keep poker alive and well. And I got a lot of respect for them for that.

Brad: Yeah, that I mean, the people there they’re doing the work right to make sure that, to make sure that all of us can reap the rewards of this game for the foreseeable, foreseeable future. Because it is a beautiful game. I do love it and everything that all the good things in my life I can directly attribute to playing cards 

Joe: Texan

Brad: And I’m very, very grateful. So, let’s close on this. Where can the chasing poker greatest audience find you on the World Wide Web?

Joe: I do a monthly Comedy Show in Las Vegas. The next one if any of your listeners are poker players that live in around Las Vegas, the next one is November 22. It’s at a place called The Space Lv. Everyone who’s come thus far has had a blast. I bring out a bunch of great comedians from LA, we go out to Vegas, we do one night in an air b&b Smash Show, everybody comes back the next day. A great lineup of comics, I host and I would mean a lot to me if people came out for that so you can get tickets at ss far as online you can follow me on twitter @Stapes. You can follow me on Instagram @InstaStapes

Brad: Awesome man and people, LA, LA folks listening to chasing poker greatness. Go check Stapes out, buy him a beer and ask him for his phone number just for fun.

Joe: Just to see if I, if I walked the walk after talking the talk.

Brad: Say I heard you, I heard your interview on chasing poker greatness. And so, I know it’s very safe to ask for your phone number. It’s been delightful. I’ve loved talking to you for these, you know, close to a couple of hours. I’ve enjoyed it. And went some places that were very unexpected, but pleasantly surprised. Thank you very much for your time and energy.

Joe: Yeah cool man a pleasure to do it. Thanks so much for listening me fucking be such a blowhard for two hours. I, it’s nice. It’s good for the ego.

Brad: We see, we see, through you. You’re transparent now

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of chasing poker greatness. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the show, please take a moment to do so on Apple podcasts or wherever your favorite place listen to podcasts might be. And once again,I also wanted to let you know about PKC poker. If you’re on the lookout for a new platform where the games are safe and secure and the action is amazing, head to to get your code and jump into the games. You must have a code to play as well as be 21 years of age or older. One final time that’s Thank you so much and I’ll see you next time on Chasing Poker Greatness.

Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Episode 015: Joe Stapleton

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