Bulls guard Jannero Pargo always has loved to shoot the basketball. But did you know he also loves poker?
Pargo, 30, has averaged 5.4 points and 1.4 assists in 53 games for the Bulls. He started for a few games while Derrick Rose was out with a wrist injury, but since then he has returned to his familiar role as a reserve shooter.
During a recent conversation, Pargo revealed that he controls the team’s poker rankings. A dry erase board sits next to Pargo’s locker, where he updates the standings every week or so.
TM: What’s in your locker?
JP: Um … There’s not much in my locker.
TM: Nothing? You don’t ever want to put a candle in here or anything?
JP: (Laughs) Uh, no. My locker is pretty much average. I’ve got a couple of magazines.
TM: Do you read through them?
JP: No, I just kind of look at the pictures.
TM: How do these lockers compare with your locker when you played in Greece?
JP: They’re all pretty much the same.
TM: Is Taj Gibson a good locker mate?
JP: Yeah, he’s decent.
TM: Does he respect the line?
JP: He doesn’t respect the line. Look, he’s got shoes right here. His chair is here. He does not respect the line. But I’ve got a lot more room over on this side.
TM: Do you get to use this dry-erase board?
JP: Yeah, look – wait, somebody erased my poker rankings.
TM: Who’s the top poker player on the team?
JP: Here, I’m going to show you.
(Pargo proceeds to list the team’s top poker players: “1. Jannero Pargo ; 2. Kirk Hinrich; 3. [Blank]; 4. Brad Miller; 5. Pete Myers; 6. Flip Murray 7. [Blank]; 8. Joe Alexander”)
TM: Wait, but why is there a blank space for No. 3?
JP: Because me and Kirk are playing at such a high level. They’re so far under us.
(“You’ve got to mention me somewhere,” Jerome James says from across the room. “I should get that No. 3 spot.” … Pargo writes in James’ name at No. 9.)
TM: So who is the worst poker player on the team?
JP: Right now it’s Joe Alexander.
TM: Can you work with him?
JP: Yeah, we can work with him. We’ve got to teach him some stuff.
TM: Does Hinrich have a chance to overtake you?
JP: He has a very slim chance.
TM: So have you been No. 1 all year?
JP: Pretty much all year, yes.
TM: Do you get a trophy or something if you win?
JP: No. I just win money.
TM: You are the commissioner, then?
JP: Kirk calls me something. I can’t think of what he calls me. (James chimes in again from across the room: “The pit boss!”)
TM: I’m bad at poker; what’s the key to success? Is it all about the poker face?
JP: Patience, patience. Patience and well-timed aggression.
TM: So it’s kind of like basketball.
JP: (Laughs) Yeah.