Steve Hill talks turkey – and pizza – with self-confessed super-nerd Jimmy ‘Gobboboy’ Fricke
Poker players come in many shapes and sizes. And while the game superficially enjoys a glamorous image, the reality is wildly different. To the general public, poker is a game played by James Bond in Monte Carlo, and by rich men wearing dinner jackets on yachts. Not necessarily by a pasty big boy with thinning ginger hair. Looking more like a teenage World Of Warcraft addict than a professional poker player, Jimmy Fricke (rhymes with ‘sicky’) would seem more at home collecting potions in an online fantasy world than amassing hundreds of thousands of dollars in various parts of the real world. Indeed his online moniker ‘Gobboboy’ comes from the PC game Warhammer, after the nickname given to the goblins by the orcs…
World Of Geek
But who are we to scoff? Both myself and PokerPlayer editor Dave Woods come from a background in PC games magazines, and have simply transferred our skills to poker. Similarly, Jimmy Fricke is one of the growing legion of young gamers to have discovered internet poker, which is after all – in gaming parlance – a turn-based online strategy game. Although initially too young to legally play live poker, Little Jimmy did get his grubby paws on real cards, of a sort. Like many young poker pros, he earned his wings in the nefarious world of card game Magic: The Gathering, a game I always assume is akin to Top Trumps for goblin-fanciers. I’m probably wrong, but either way, it stood young Fricke in good stead, as he graduated from wizards and elves to the arguably equally abstract world of Kings, Queens and Aces, taking to poker like a sorcerer to magic.
Some friends taught him to play and gave him a bankroll. From day one, he treated it as a job, playing $0.50/$1 limit Hold’em for a few months before trying out small stakes MTTs. He was obviously successful, as he quit college to play poker full-time, with predictable reaction from friends and family. Although as he says, ‘It took time but they came around. Money can swing peoples’ opinions pretty easily.’
Those opinions were presumably swung further when Jimmy promptly went deep in two big live events, trousering $28,000 at the 2007 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, followed just ten days later by a sensational second place – to Gus Hansen – in the Aussie Millions for a cool $795,279. Proving this was no flash in the pan, once he’d turned 21 Fricke won a Bellagio Cup side event for $443,155. Having proven himself in the live arena, Jimmy sent a speculative email to Full Tilt inquiring about the possibility of sponsorship. The answer came back a polite no, although inadvertently included amid the reply was a message from Howard Lederer, stating, ‘The guy’s a freak and a very weird dude. He is also quite young. I think we should stay away.’
Full Tilt may have spurned him, but along with his sizeable tournament winnings, the cult of Jimmy Fricke was also growing, with a huge following on the 2+2 forums. With over 7,600 posts to his name, Jimmy has a burgeoning online fan club, with amusing photoshopped images of his face appearing on the forums at every opportunity (check out one of our favourites at tinyurl.com/n93mbp). And keeping it in the family, his mother is also an avid poster, under the self-explanatory name ‘Gobbomom’. A trawl of the murky depths of the internet reveals further oddities, such as a website selling a T-shirt of Fricke’s face proclaiming ‘I’d eat that for $100,’ after he claimed on a radio show that he would happily eat a piece of pizza that fell on the Commerce Casino floor face down.
As he says, ‘I’m not really afraid of germs at all and they vacuum the floors every night so I am really not that afraid of eating a dirty piece of pizza.’It’s all part of the living legend that is Jimmy Fricke, a roly-poly high-roller who has been described as the Eric Cartman of poker. With sponsorship increasingly hard to come by, nobody has taken a punt on him yet, but he’s still a bona fide Poker Icon in our eyes.
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