Poker Game Kept Gabe Newell From Naming Valve "Gearbox" [UPDATE - Story isn't true.]

We know large rodents helped determine the name of game companies. We now also know that Randy Pitchford vanquished Gabe Newell in a poker match on a riverboat to win the name of the house of Borderlands. [UPDATE: Valve denies.]

So reports Joystiq, in a new series that looks at the secrets behind the names of video game studios. To learn more, the site asked Randy Pitchford co-founder of Texas-based Gearbox to explain how his company got his name.

[UPDATE: 6:17 PM - A Valve spokesperson cast doubt on this story today, saying Pitchford and Newell did not meet until after Valve shipped Half-Life, meaning this poker match couldn't have happened. Kotaku has contacted Pitchford for clarification. UPDATE 2: Pitchford informs us that this was a "tall tale." Kotaku regrets the error.]

The lengthy response brings readers to a key poker match on the water near New Orleans. It's a good read, especially if you can understand this excerpt from Pitchford:

"After about four or five hours of play, that opportunity came and the showdown finally happened. The funny thing is that the hand that decided it wasn't that significant of a hand as far as Hold 'em Poker goes. It wasn't one of those Royal-Flush-Over-Quad-Aces kinds of hands that you see in the movies. I still remember the hand, though I'm sure Gabe wouldn't remember. The hand was top pair over middle pair. I was playing AK suited and he was playing K9 off suit (a hand known as "Saw Mill"). Obviously I tried to build a bit a of a pot pre-flop and got a lot of callers before it was Gabe's turn to act and astonishingly he came over the top with a massive over-bet. His action isolated us down to just the two of us in the hand, which gave me a HUGE advantage in this situation (I mentioned that Gabe hadn't played a lot of poker, right?). Anyway, the board came K-8-2 mixed suits and we were both pot committed so, of course, the money went in.

There's plenty more at the original piece, where you can get the rest of Pitchford's side of the story. Poor Newell, his career was never the same. He had to go with Valve.

Joystiq, we'll see you this Gearbox post and raise you one. Stay tuned.


What's in a Name: Gearbox Software
[Joystiq]