Lee Jones: They gave Casey Kastle the wrong Global Poker Award

Lee Jones poker writer
Lee Jones
Posted on: March 15, 2024 17:22 PDT

Three weeks ago, at the Global Poker Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Casey Kastle was presented with the Hendon Mob Award, for cashing in tournaments in 50 different countries. This is certainly an impressive feat, but maybe more impressive is his goal of wearing shorts 250 days a year. Here, we have a man who has his priorities straight.

And to be clear, Casey Kastle has been on the poker scene forever. If you watch the video of the 2003 WSOP Main Event, Casey has an unintended cameo, passing through the scene going from Point A to Point B. I can't remember if he's wearing shorts or not.

But if I were giving out the Global Poker Awards, Casey would have won two, and long before this year. Here they are, in no particular order...

The Fresh Air Award

Most people reading this are too young to remember the Bad Old Days, before smoking was eliminated from poker rooms. I remember my first forays into Garden City in San Jose, and feeling that I had acquired a pack-a-day cigarette habit, simply by being in the room.

I can even remember the laughable measures that were taken to mitigate the problem, such as (and no, I'm not making this up) making the #1 and #9 seats "non-smoking," so the dealer wouldn't have a cigarette literally in their face. No doubt the dealer's lungs found this arrangement fully acceptable.

It wasn't until 1997 that California banned cigarette smoking in its poker rooms, which was good because I had decided that it was no longer +LifeEV for me to be in them while the smoke was there.

In the meantime, Casey was fighting a battle to remove smoking from poker rooms and poker tournaments in Europe. Sadly, I don't know all the details – it was across the Pond from me, and there has been a quarter century of water under the bridge since then. But Casey, along with Tom McEvoy in the United States, persisted, and room by room, tournament by tournament, they got the cigarettes banned.

Now, we all take non-smoking poker rooms for granted, though decades since, the benighted casinos still allow their patrons to marinate in carbon monoxide. If you play major poker tournaments, there's a decent chance you'll bump into Casey. When you do, buy the man a drink, and thank him – he's a meaningful percentage of the reason that you don't have to fade lung cancer while you're fading three-outers.

The "Please" Award

I haven't gotten to play much poker at the same table with Casey. He lives in Europe, and I live in the States. He plays tournaments, I play cash. But the universe was kind enough to put us together at a PLO cash game in Monte Carlo – it will have been a decade ago.

I'm not 100% sure I knew who he was at the time, but I immediately wanted to know, because he was the single most polite poker player I'd ever met. To the point that when he announced a bet, he appended "please" to it. "One hundred and fifty, please."

This was, as you might imagine, astonishing to me. I had never heard it before, and it struck me that it was a glorious freeroll for the community and planet. Casey could be just as ruthless in trying to take chips from the other players, but do it with a panache and grace that made everybody happy that they were in a poker game with him.

That grace has stayed with me ever since, though it took me far too long to get anywhere near Casey's level in my own poker playing. But a few years ago, perhaps since the Covid pandemic, I have made it a habit to append "please" to my bet size announcements. In fact...

A couple of weeks ago, Tommy Angelo approached me at our local poker room, chuckling out loud.

"Eddie was trying to describe you to somebody else at our table. They didn't know who he meant. Finally, Eddie said, 'You know the guy – Mr. Please!'"

I have been called much worse things than "Mr. Please," particularly in poker rooms. And I owe 100% of that to Casey Kastle, and the lesson he taught me on how to be gracious and polite, even as I try to win all the chips.

Casey Kastle: flags schmags

I'm glad they gave Casey Kastle the Hendon Mob Award. He deserves to have that hardware on a shelf, despite rarely seeing it, since he's out trying to cash poker tournaments in the next 50 countries.

But I'd already mentally awarded him two more important awards, and he's been in my personal poker hall of fame for many years now.

Thank you, Casey – I hope I'll see you out on the road one of these days.