Most of his life Alex Rodriguez has all but obliterated scouting reports. He made grown men do double-takes by the time he was a sophomore in high school so taken were they by his precocious skills as a baseball player. He always graded off the charts. And he was a pretty good football player too.

This one wasn’t quite as glowing but it might be especially useful for A-Rod now more than any of the five baseball tools he mastered as a teenage prodigy. This is Jean-Robert Bellande a renowned poker player and Long Island native talking on the NBC show “Poker After Dark” a few years ago handicapping A-Rod who by then was known as a high-stakes poker player usually playing $50-$100 no-limit games.

“I thought he played fine” Bellande said. “I wouldn’t say he plays great I wouldn’t say he plays awful.”

Translated it hearkens Matt Damon’s opening line in “Rounders”: “Listen here’s the thing. If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table then you are the sucker.”

Bud Selig certainly hopes so as this protracted stare-down with Rodriguez approaches the zero hour the Commissioner and the one-time Best Player on the Planet engaged in an epic heads-up game of hold-em. Reports began to trickle out yesterday Selig does indeed plan to use a lifetime suspension as a cudgel to deal an epic blow to Rodriguez the climactic maneuver in this Biogenesis end-game.

Other reports indicate Rodriguez’s deep team of advisers which has steadfastly maintained he will fight — to the death (of his career) if necessary — the kind of Draconian punishment that seems sitting in the middle of the table now will indeed ponder a deal to shorten that suspension to something that could salvage a smidgen of Rodriguez’s career — and the pile of cash still owed him.

Either way this is the most important hand Selig ever has examined in his long stewardship. And he better be right. He better be right about the evidence his investigators have collected both in its damning quality and its damnable quantity. He better believe if A-Rod calls his hand the arbitrator baseball employs now renders a more satisfying verdict than the one produced by the Ryan Braun case.