The Legend of Viffer

Poker has always had its legendary players, some elevated to that status by virtue of their skill and earnings at the table, others on the basis of their larger-than-life character. Few can boast of being on both lists, but Viffer is certainly among them!

By: Andrew Burnett

Viffer’s poker career, much like his real-life, has been a rollercoaster ride of huge losses and massive wins and to give you a little background on a personal level, as a three-year old child Peat lost his father, then his stepfather before high school, and later in life survived two bouts of brain surgery and a stint of drug rehab as well.

Perhaps these and other events are what led to his unconventional, aggressive and – to be perfectly honest – often crazy plays at the poker table…such as this hand versus Daniel Negreanu.

In the Beginning

Let’s track back a little, however, and mention how Viffer got into poker, and how that nickname came about – the first answer reasonably normal, the second… not so much!

Hustling pool is a decent background for the life of a would-be degenerate old-school poker pro and that’s how Peat made a living for a number of years - although the underground pool scene also gave rise to the Viffer tag – an encounter with a drunken girl, a pool cue and the cry of ‘He just Viffed me!’ pretty much all you need to know.

When the pool stakes were maxing out at $5k matches, Viffer decided poker was a logical transition, the game booming live and online in the noughties. Before that happened, though, Viffer had a close call courtesy of a brain tumour at the age of 23.

“I was playing pool in Oklahoma …went home bust with headache. 3 days later I was in hospital with a brain abscess that was on my optical nerve. I spent 30 days in hospital.

Grinding it up online

“I started to play on PokerStars at stakes $1/2, he explained, although adding: “I remember depositing $400 and playing $0.10/0.25; Maximum stakes were $2/4…”

That’s a long way from the $500/1000 nosebleed games he would end up playing against the very best in the world just a few years later, but money it seems has never been too much of an issue for Peat.

“Have I ever used bankroll management? I had plenty of friends with lots of money. That was all my bankroll management. I’ve never chosen my opponents. Have been playing with everyone I met”.

Although, in his own words, he “pawned everyone on Stars back in the day” he later “turned into a true degen – almost never a good thing for a poker player looking to make it a lifelong career.

However, big losses would simply see him get staked against rich tourists in Vegas, his backers knowing full well he would win it all back and more. Big wins would also lead to huge benders, with ‘coke and hookers’ stories aplenty – with $50k spent in one night on booze and strippers giving you the general gist.

As he once described the movie of his life: “Entertaining, it would be a cross between Rounders, Color of Money, and Blow.

The online highstakes cash games would prove to be difficult for Viffer’s larger-than-life character, and there was no more amazing game than that played against Jay 'pr1nnyraid' Rosenkrantz

The Biggest Swings

Looking for some high stakes online action as part of his 2months $2million Challenge (2M2MM) Rosenkrantz locked horns with Viffer at $200/400 on Full Tilt Poker – and the documentary captured much of it for posterity.

Down almost $¼million at one point, a shocked Rosenkrantz just couldn’t get to grips with Viffer’s unconventional play, until he spotted a flaw in his opponent’s bet-sizing.

The tell – a pot bet click instead of a randomly-numbered big bet – turned the tide, a $500k+ swing which ended with a less than dignified chat exchange

Add in the fact that Viffer himself admitted: “I get pretty lazy online…I don’t use any of the software out there and have no idea how each online player plays so when I sit in a game I’m just guessing, and his online struggles become much clearer.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom of course, and the following sweet little $60k river playing NLHE against Guy 'patatino' Laliberte provided some temporary cheer…

Put Viffer in a live cash game setting, however, and his skills were given the opportunity to shine without such worries, as seen here against Phil Ivey

“Nine ball, corner pocket”

We’ve already seen the names Negreanu and Ivey pop up, and in this next clip Viffer takes Phil Hellmuth to the cleaners – the Poker Brat living up to his name when he sees the his all-in called…

Peat also subscribes to the bad Phil, good Phil description that many others have commented on over the years: “I will say that at poker table Phil Hellmuth is the biggest dick, but away he is nicest guy. It’s like night and day his poker persona and his away from poker”.

Poker After Dark, The Big Game, High Stakes Poker…all these and more are on Peat’s extensive resume, a sign that he was not only a world-class cash game player, but that his persona fitted perfectly to such legendary televised shows.

A font of hilarious stories and occasional spats, with plenty of action thrown in, Peat carved a career from live cash poker.

As Phil Laak stated: “When Viffer comes along, stakes triple up. Everybody thinks he joins the game to chit-chat and show off…audience and producers (of poker shows) love it…”

Losing $1.4million in a day, winning $700k in a few hours, letting a huge $200k tourney win ride on a cash game, one-outered by Sammy Farha for $650k – David Viffer Peat’s poker life resembles very closely his personal fortunes and misfortunes.

Through all the craziness, however, there was a goodness shining through, this one sentence a pure example: “Remember guys we are very lucky to be good at a game that makes us a lot of $$$$ -  when eating at Denny’s, tipping the waitress who has 3 kids at home an extra 50 won’t change your life but could seriously change hers.

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