This past spring, there was a point in time when Asher Conniff and his mis-clicked run towards a World Poker Tour World Championship title was the biggest story in poker. The story even broke through the traditional poker media barrier, picking up national coverage on sites and networks such as Barstool Sports, the NY Daily News and 'Good Day New York', just to name a few. While many may see Asher as the quintessential, hard working and charismatic pro, only few have seen the opposite side of the Brooklynite, a manipulating, backtracking and frugal thief.
Asher isn't the only poker player to come under recent scrutiny, as Dwyte Pilgrim's transgression of alleged hustling were made public by Aaron Massey in bits and pieces over the last few weeks and a few more controversies have surfaced throughout the poker community since the summer months of the World Series of Poker. All of those transgressions and controversies have taken place inside the player pool though, while Asher is the first to bring his destruction to an entirely different arena, the arena of poker media.
"I've never been one to stir up trouble, I've always tried to keep a low profile, both on and off the job." confessed East Coast poker blogger Will O'Connor, "But recent activity among the community has made me realize that if I don't speak out, maybe no one else will." That is something that O'Connor, who once considered Conniff a friend, has spent the better part of the last few months grappling with.
"It started out with silly little things, texting me, asking what time a Day 2 restart was, asking when late registration was ending, I just thought I was doing my job, helping a friend." The requests got larger and soon, those requests started turning into demands. That's when their one-sided relationship boiled over to a level that neither of them, to this day, think they can come back from.
O'Connor was working the Borgata Summer Poker Open, where he was on the floor collecting chip counts in the casino's first ever Almighty Stack event, not an easy undertaking with a starting stack of 100,000 chips. That's when Asher approached him. "He came up behind me and frantically said that he needed to charge his phone." O'Connor explained and since this was always a common request of players, he led Asher to the charging station at his centrally located media table.
"I asked him how much percentage he had left because my shift was done in a half hour and I wanted to know if that was going to be enough time to get him fully charged. He said that wasn't enough time and that's when he started getting defensive, he refused to show me his phone or battery percentage."
O'Connor didn't want it to look like he was intruding into anyone's privacy, so he backed off and lent Asher the charger for the night. He admits that as he walked back to his room after his shift, he wondered if he had made the right choice, he wondered if he even knew Asher Conniff at all. It wasn't until the next morning that he realized that he might have made a decision that he'd spend the next few months trying to rectify.
"I'm always prepared when it comes to chargers and whatnot, I always have a back up for everything but I just wanted to make sure I got it back, I figured that wouldn't be a problem the next morning." O'Connor said, adding that was when the excuses started, which were, in his own words, "well thought out at first but then just dipped into complete nonsense."
Conniff either refused to answer texts or would reply hours later, with one word answers to O'Connor's pleads. "It was frustrating because he used his local stardom as a cover and because of that, I was in no position to go up against him, everyone had his back. I was truly alone. Helpless even."
"I liked him, I rooted for him, I was there for him, he was there for me prior to this, so I didn't want this to come out. I wanted him to just be the bigger man, admit his faults, admit that he was in the wrong but he couldn't, he'd gone mad with power. The next week at Parx, he dangled my charger in front of me, said he wouldn't give it back to me, ever. I've never been more scared."
There were more taunts to follow, as Conniff extended his, what O'Connor describes as a "reign of terror", to the internet. "I'd check my phone and there would be messages, tweets, pictures of me asking for it back where he called me an 'idiot'. I knew there was nothing I could do after that, the charger was gone, it was best to just move on."
O'Connor has finally moved on. He recently purchased a new phone charger but just because he's onto another charger, doesn't mean he's willing to let Conniff continue to bully the poker media like he has. "As I was standing in line, ready to buy the new charger, I thought to myself just how delicate everything in this world is, how one moment of desperation can push someone that far. I can't speak for Asher, I can't help him not go that far again but I can protect those around me, I can make sure no one else gets hurt."
O'Connor realizes that this article alone likely means the end of his relationship with Conniff and at any chance of ever getting that original charger back. "I know it's gone, I know it's done, I know we're done but part of me wants to try to find a positive in all of this. Right now, Asher's somewhere in Europe, my," he still laughs at the term my, "charger is seeing Europe for the first time. My charger just spent the better part of the last week and a half in a ocean side condo in Malta. His destructiveness has at least brought my charger to places and situations that it would never find itself in otherwise. For that I'm not happy, I'm just, more at ease."
It's been over six months since the original theft took place and for the charger in question, that might just be enough time for the wounds to heal and for a resolution. willocmedia.com was able to reach out to the stolen phone charger and received this brief but powerful statement, "Most phone chargers don't endure this much drama in their lifetime, they get plugged and unplugged a few thousand times and then, they get replaced. Most end their lives in a seldom used drawer or cabinet, but Will's charger, Asher's charger, whoever's charger you want to call me, I'm not done yet and hopefully they aren't done yet either."
It should be noted that willocmedia.com reached out to Asher Conniff prior to running this article. Conniff refused to comment but did not explicitly dismiss the alleged charges. It should also be noted that while Asher Conniff actually did take Will O'Connor's charger during July's Borgata Summer Poker Open, this entire article is satire and Asher and Will are on good, speaking, trolling terms.