Heads-up specialist Jason “carrycakes” Mo is short-selling action for Matt Stout and Faraz Jaka in the One Drop High Roller at the same markup they are selling their own action on the 2+2 forums. Mo first started shorting Jaka last month, but added Stout to the offer this morning.

Although poker players are in the habit of betting on everything and anything – including themselves and one another – publicly shorting another player like this is not something you see very often and could be taken as a direct insult to the player’s skills. In effect, Mo is publicly stating that he does not believe Stout and Jaka have an edge in the high roller or, if they do, that it is less than the 7% markup they’re asking for their shares.

Jason who?

If you haven’t heard of Jason Mo, there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that he plays mostly online, or used to. Like many heads-up specialists, he avoids drawing too much attention to his online identity so as not to make it more difficult than necessary to find a game. He seems to have transitioned more to live poker in the past year or so, but his most public appearance to date was finishing 2nd to Vanessa Selbst in the $25,000 Mixed-Max event at last year’s World Series of Poker.

He also doesn’t get a lot of coverage because he has a professed disdain for the poker media and goes out of his way to make himself as unlikable as possible. He seems to relish his role as a heel within the professional community, but shows little interest in being known to the public one way or another.

Nonetheless, among those who do know of him, there’s little disagreement that he is one of the world’s best heads-up players, along with the other members of his “Evil Empire” clique: Doug Polk, Jason Les, Dong Kim and Ryan Fee.

Personality conflict?

It’s possible that Mo is making the offer for purely financial reasons; he and the other Evil Empire members are very much into the meta-gambling aspect of tournament poker, routinely offering to crossbook themselves against other players and so forth. (Crossbooking is a sort of reverse-action swapping deal in which players each agree to match some percentage of the other’s cashes in a tournament.) It could simply be that Mo wants the “other side” of the bet Jaka and Stout are offering, and doesn’t care that he’s insulting them in public.

On the other hand, crossbooking, last-longer bets are made between the players themselves and with both parties’ voluntary participation. Unilaterally selling action on another player to third parties is far more of an aggressive act, and Mo is an habitual troll, so it could equally be that the whole point is to offend.

There are several good reasons that he and a guy like Jaka would rub each other the wrong way. Mo is outspokenly nihilistic, while Jaka is into New Age spirituality. Mo is really into conspicuous consumption and bragging about his lifestyle, while Jaka is a proponent of simple living and has been vocal in criticizing the “balla” image of professional poker life which is so often presented both in fiction and the supposed news media.

As for their attitudes towards recreational players, perhaps I should let the two of them speak for themselves. Here is what each of them had to say about the Colossus on Twitter:

Jaka: “After chatting w my @WSOP #Colossus table for 5 min already much more social & friendly experience than all the other events. #normalpeople”

Mo: “the rio is peasant central today”

Update: The remainder of the article has been updated to include Stout and Jaka’s responses to our inquiries.

Stout has politely declined to comment on the issue, while Jaka had a little more to say. He said that although he’d heard something about Mo’s offer on Twitter, he hadn’t paid it much attention and doesn’t know Mo personally.

“I don’t know if this is just another case of top online players feeling the need to tell everyone how bad they are and how good they themselves are,” he told us, “but I strongly believe that since a lot of the younger players hit the live felt years ago we’ve seen a lot more berating of players, which only educates them about their mistakes or about the fact that they shouldn’t be in those games. Personally, I think it makes a lot more sense to underestimate your own skill [when speaking] to others, and downplay the mistakes your opponents make. I mean at the end of the day we are trying to get into games with weaker opponents than us, aren’t we?”

He doesn’t think that Mo is correct in betting against him, of course, but isn’t taking it too hard:

“[If he thinks] it’s a slam dunk bet and wants to make some loot [then] I commend him for taking an unorthodox approach […] Personally, I would do something like this behind the scenes just from a professional and etiquette standpoint but hey, there are no written rules in this world; everyone is welcome to do what they please.”

As for Mo, he has confirmed on Twitter that the offer is “nothing personal, just business.”

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.