I've received a lot of good feedback about an observation I made a couple of weeks ago regarding the change in WSOP coverage at ESPN. That observation became even more pronounced when we saw Scotty Nguyen's performace at this year's HORSE event.
As Amy pointed out today, people were actually surprised at Nguyen being the bad boy. The surprised people are the people who don't get out much and know poker only from TV.
Let's all agree on something. At least half of the poker community is made up of people you wouldn't want to share a beer with. At least 75% of the poker community is made up of people you wouldn't want to bring home to Mom. In the poker world, the really good folks are the minority. TV can make anybody look good. It made Mike Tyson look like a bootstrapping Horatio Alger story until the whole cannibalism thing. It made Michael Vick out to be one of the best quarterbacks of his time until the whole animal massacre thing. TV can make people what it wants. It made Scotty Nguyen into the Prince of Poker and now it's made him the town drunk.
Amy wrote a great piece a few years ago titled The Death Wish that gives you some decent insight into Nguyen before televised poker made him royalty. Everyone should read it. Especially those people who don't get to hang out in the Amazon Room and see poker people as they are for real.
I'm not sure why--because, I haven't in years--but I have watched every episode of ESPN's 2008 WSOP poker coverage this year. Last night's $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event was, for obvious reasons, the best yet.
I am not here, however, to applaud ESPN for good coverage. I'm here to applaud ESPN for finally presenting the game in a somewhat more journalistic fashion.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Twenty grand is nothing at the World Series of Poker. Really. If you said you had $20,000 in your pocket, a great many people would look at you and say, "So? I had a poached egg for breakfast. I win." Unless, they are an internet kid, and then they say, "Poached egg, FTW." And they really use the letters.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The woman was blonde and a little overweight. She was a tourist. She screamed, "Oh my God!" and broke down in sobbing fits. Her chair shook as she swayed with the spirit of Las Vegas.
In front of her, a three-line video poker machine showed a Royal Flush in hearts on the first line. The winnings box spun, jangled, and whirled up and up and up. With each 1,000 mark it crossed, the woman shuddered, dropped more tears onto her red cheeks, and said, "Oh, God!"More in this Poker Blog! -->
Several years ago, G-Rob began taking every three syllable phrase he could and using it as the opening chorus to Seals and Croft's "Summer Breeze." It is, in his estimation, an ear worm that cannot be killed.
Early in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, I began using this old trick to at perfectly random times around the Rio (parking garages, quiet moments in the press box, in the men's room) to belt out, "Jerry Yang, makes me feel fine...!"
As mentioned in Questions in Las Vegas, my team of poker writers at the World Series of Poker passed the idle time making some lists. Among the most fun was creating signature tunes for 27 players who started Day 7.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I am not Pauly. When setting out for a long-haul trip, I always promise myself I will write more. Then, by the end of the 15-hour day, I don't want to look at a computer. Thus, most of my Vegas tales get relegated to an internal file from which I later pick a couple of dusty gems and pass them along.
That file is, at the moment, still closed. I'm just about decompressed, but not entirely.
That said, while in Vegas this year I worked alongside a couple of top poker writers who are exceptionally good at self-editing. During this trip, these guys started compiling lists that we contributed to over our three weeks on the ground.
While I still sort out what I could and should write about this year's World Series, I've gone back over the lists and thought I would share a few over the next few days.More in this Poker Blog! -->
As I mentioned in my last post, there was a lot of resistance to Harrah's decision to delay the final table of the WSOP. A quick glance at the nine players left seems to validate this radical idea.
Here are the names: Ivan Demidov, Peter Eastgate, Kelly Kim, Craig Marquis, Scott Montgomery, Dennis Phillips, David "Chino" Rheem, Ylon Schwartz and Darus Suharto.
This has to be the most anonymous final table in the history of the World Series of Poker. These massive fields actually make it more likely that the last table standing will be full of a couple foreign players, a couple minor online or casino pros and a couple players from the Friday night home game.
And if the final table started right now, I'd have absolutely no rooting interest.More in this Poker Blog! -->
No, we're not talking about the check these players are going to get from Harrah's. We're talking about the fight in the shadows, the one we usually don't hear about. The game behind the game, where it's all about what (or who) you wear.
Dr. Pauly, professor of poker blogging and medicinal herbs, gives us a fascinating post titled The Battle for Tiffany Michelle's Breasts that shows us just how difficult it is to play this game.
But this all brings me back to a discussion on this very blog just two months ago...More in this Poker Blog! -->
There are few things in this world that will turn a person into an absolute idiot with no regard for their own dignity. For a starving man, it may be a Big Mac. For a lonely man, it may be a naked woman who wants to sleep with him. For an addict, it's that cigarette or shot of whiskey. For G-Rob, it's any of those things.
For a lot of people on TV these days, it's money.
Exhibit A: The appropriately named "I Love Money" on VHI.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've gone to the bathroom in one particular room in the Rio more times than I can count. It's one of those constants in Las Vegas. Things rarely change. There will be the guy smoking and pretending he doesn't know or care that it's against the rules. There will be the guy in a stall doing things that he probably would be embarassed to do in the privacy of his own home. There is the drunk guy who thinks it's perfectly reasonable to be intoxicated at breakfast. The urinals are usually bordering on clean, which is good enough for me.
Moments ago, I went in for my hourly leak and noticed something had changed. Gammo Testosterone booster is now advertising on the urinal pads. They blink flashing red lights. I pissed on one and the lights went out.
I don't know what that means.More in this Poker Blog! -->
You smell that don't you? It's a combination of stale coffee, body odor, and residual cigarette smoke. It's anticipation, fear, and desperation. It's the 2008 WSOP.
Even though it's going to take us a few weeks to get on the ground there, we here at the Up For Poker Blog are excited about our friends and colleagues who are already wheels down.
The people behind these blogs are the hardest working people in poker. They give us what we can't have: an inside look at the World Series reality.
We took a little time to collect a list of the people we'll be reading over the next several weeks. You'll find the entire list on our WSOP Blogs page. We'll keep it linked in The Nuts section on the left just in case you want to use it as your portal to all the World Series news you can stomach.
If we missed your blog, shoot us a note and we'll see about linking you up.
Generally, people end up in hell because the in-road has so many fun attractions along the way.
The hell-heat of the Nevada desert is the only thing that contradicts the axiom. There is nothing luring people to Las Vegas except the destination itself. I think people who routinely go to Vegas know in advance the part of their soul they will give up. It's a cross-sectioned portion, like something out of a Science and Industry museum. Everybody knows it's there, but until you see it sliced and exposed, the importance is only academic.
The last time I went to the World Series of Poker, I met the Devil. As I wrote after the fact, "The Devil knew my name. The Devil knew my patterns. The Devil knew where I was. The Devil knew Otis. And now Otis had seen the Devil."
Aside from true, irrational fear, cold is the only thing I remember feeling at the end of the 2008 World Series. I shivered and shook my way through the final day of the main event. I thought I was dying and, ever so briefly, just wished I would so the Devil could take me wherever he wanted.
I survived, but I don't know how.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It was two years ago this month when I first introduced you to Jena. Here's a taste:
She pressed her knee into my leg. She was sending me a message, hidden under the table from the rest of the players. It was different from when she placed her hand on my arm or whispered in my ear. I knew exactly what she was trying to tell me here, and it excited me.
It was that day that Jena learned how to wield the Hammer. It didn't turn out well for her the first time, but, like sex, it's more satisfying after you become more skilled at it. A few months later, she emailed to let me know she'd gotten better.
And now? Well, she's the female champion at the World Series of Poker Circuit in New Orleans.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Somewhere in the middle of the Nevada desert, the folks at Harrah's rang one hella-big bell, and no amount of bitching and moaning is going to un-ring it. No matter how many times I say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," it's still going to be fixed in one way or another.
The thing is, the WSOP Final Table was broken, at least in terms of how people watch it live.
So, since I have yet to put on the yoke of perpetual cynicism, I've chosen to think about the WSOP Final Table delay in terms of what Harrah's can do now to impress the hell out of everybody.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The day Harrah's officially announced the much-anticipated final table delay, my IM machine and e-mail struggled under the pressure. Among those instant messages was from Up For Poker blog co-contributor Luckbox with a simple question: "Pro or con?"
I barely thought for a second before answering, "Con." CJ has since written down his thoughts about the WSOP final table delay. I guess it's up to me to take the opposing role. To be honest, it's hard to get up the energy to write with much fervor about the already-decided subject. What's more, I like to keep an open mind about things like this. Finally, I have a great deal of respect for many people in the opposing camp.
Regardless, I've been known to call myself a neotraditionalist. I'm a junkie for all things old school. I'm the old guy who just last Monday night rolled into a poker game with Pet Sounds blowing out of his speakers. More often than not, I like things the way they were more than the way they are. That in mind, you're probably not surprised to learn that I approach the WSOP final table delay--to keep it in the lexicon of you people who live in the now--with a healthy dose of "meh."More in this Poker Blog! -->
The folks running the World Series of Poker have decided to delay the final table of the Main Event for nearly four months, from July 16th to November 9th. The nine players will play down to two on the 9th and the heads-up play will be held on the 10th. ESPN will broadcast the event on Tuesday, November 11th.
And that's good for poker. It's good for the players. It's good for the fans. It's good for all of us.More in this Poker Blog! -->