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NBA Pro Jerome James takes a seat $$$, tournament play in cash, Tiger Woods
by MJ Bernstein | Contact   
Wednesday, 02 December 2009

Poker Pro MJ Bernstein's Blog

Jerome James

Lately, I've been spending more time at the Horseshoe. Not a lot of time, but a couple days a week at least. Since I last posted, most of my sessions have been wins, culminating with one of the best sessions I've had in quite a while -in terms game-size/profit- last night.

I suppose it would be fare to say that I raped the game pretty bad. After running $500 up to 5K over 7 hours, no one really wanted to play me anymore. I can't say that I blame them either. As soon as I got over 400 big blinds -which by no means was easy- what I didn't do was just sit back and wait for more chips to come. Instead **do not reccomend**, I switched to an all out tournament big-stack betting strategy which ended up frustrating the hell out of everyone at the table. That, as I'm sure you might guess, lead to some "frustration plays" which allowed me to more then double my chips before nights end. I definitely ran well, but when it comes to exploiting a good situation, I can be a monster. And so it was...

The other cool thing about last nights session was playing with Jerome James of the Chicago Bulls. I copied his Wikipedia Profile below and I would suggest reading it -particularly if you don't know who he is- before continuing with this blog.

-- Jerome Keith James (born November 17, 1975 in Tampa, Florida) is an American professional basketball player who is currently under contract with the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. James played at Florida A&M University, and was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. Over the course of his career, he has played for the Kings, Seattle SuperSonics and New York Knicks. He has also played for the Harlem Globetrotters.

James has averaged 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in 358 career games (180 games started). James played well for the Seattle SuperSonics during the 2005 NBA playoffs, averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 11 games against the Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

After the 20042005 season, he signed a 5-year $30 million free-agent contract with the Knicks. He arrived at his first training camp out of shape and in his first season he only averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9 minutes per game. James missed much of the season due to injury and when he wasn't injured, he frequently did not play significant minutes. James was suspended on January 2, 2006 for not being prepared to practice.[1]

James is often cited as one of many questionable signings done by Knicks General Manger Isiah Thomas.[2] Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld wrote "James was universally panned as the worst free-agent signing of the summer (and in the pantheon of all-time worst.)"[3] He is also sometimes cited as an example of the "contract year phenomenon", where an athlete with impending free agency plays at a higher level than he ever has before, only to return to his normal level of play once he signs a new long-term contract.[4] Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated wrote "James was a chronic underachiever who cashed in on a brief moment of excellence". He also wrote that the Knicks signing James "was a mistake before he ever took the court at Madison Square Garden. The day the Knicks announced his signing, they were universally panned by executives, experts, journalists -- really anyone with a voice box."[5]

In the 200708 NBA season he played in only two games (on Jan 18 at Washington and Jan 21 vs Boston) for a total of five minutes, while earning a salary of $5.8 million.[6] James made his only field goal shot and two free throws of the season at Washington, giving him the best field goal percentage (tied with Jelani McCoy who also took just one shot) and free throw shooting percentage (tied with several other players) in the league according to statistics. He played another 2 games the following season scoring 6 points but suffered a season ending torn Achilles tendon injury.

On February 19, 2009, James was traded by the Knicks along with Tim Thomas and Anthony Roberson to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Larry Hughes. He has not played for Chicago.[7] --

So, that's Jerome in a nutshell I guess. I'm not a big basketball fan as I didn't even know this stuff until I read it 10 minutes ago. Anyway, at the table Jerome was definitely a likeable enough guy. I mean, after what seemed like being stuck 10 buy-ins, he kept his cool and was still joking around and having a good time with everyone. Well, I should say that he was still joking around the 8th rebuy. By the tenth, he was starting to get a little frustrated and some pointed remarks were dumped on the guys who were taking his money, myself included. The fact is, that despite devoting most of his time to playing basketball, Jerome seemed to have a pretty good grasp on basic poker fundementals. What he lacked, as most armatures do, was an understanding of solid, cash hand value in terms of rank and application. Put it another way, he couldn't understand why someone would sometimes 3 bet the button with belly and two pair outs against his top pair/top kicker or why people would call substantial pre-flop raises with "marginal holdings" to begin with. It just didn't add up to him. Understanding these things come with time (think the "10,000 hour rule") and I wanted to tell him that yesterday, but I never got the chance. Towards the end of the night, after taking a pretty bad beat, Jerome wished everyone luck and left pretty quick. I wanted to be nice, but what can you do. I'll tell you one thing, if haven't been around NBA players a lot (and I haven't) one thing you will notice right away is how damn TALL they are. At over 7', Jerome was probably the tallest guy I have ever been around. I used to think a friend of mine and poker player, Tim Hebert, was tall at 6'7". Well, Tim doesn't even come close to Jerome. I talked to Jerome for a bit earlier in the day and all I remember is looking directly up! It can be a little intimidating -ok, a lot intimidating- and my neck hurt after the conversation.


In other news, it looks like Tiger Woods is in some hot water. I have to say that I find the whole situation  ridiculous and I think everyone should just leave Tiger and his family alone. Of course, no one will because it brings in the ratings, but WTF!? I think the guy already has it bad enough with his wife trying to rip him a new one with a 3-wood, to then have to deal with the people from the media asking how much of the shaft is still sticking out... I feel for ya, Tiger. I guess we are all going to see this thing play it out, like it or not, but I wish Tiger and his family the best. It looks like its going to be a long road ahead.

I don't know about all of you, but I'm starting to prep for the holidays. I can't believe how quickly time is running...

See you at the tables,


* Please feel free to email me at with any questions or comments

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