Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Drowning in the River

So, last Friday I am playing poker at Jocks & Jills, as I am wont to do. With virtually no chips left, I go all-in with a Queen-Five offsuit. The board flops Queen-Queen-Jack, so at this point I am in great shape to quadruple up my chips.

An Ace comes out on the turn, and two of the other players in the hand get out. So the other guy in the pot and I turn over our cards; he's got wired Kings. At this point, with one card left to turn, there's an 83 percent chance I will win. He can only win with a 10 or a King, and with just two Kings left in the deck at best, there's only a 6 percent chance he will draw one of them.

I never had a a chance. King.

It's not the worst beat I've ever had, just the most recent bad one.

I bring up this anecdote because the World Series of Poker's Main Event (8 p.m. ESPN) begins tonight and will provide the Worldwide Sports Leader with many, many hours of programming. For whatever reason, poker - especially Texas Hold 'Em - has become a phenomenal success on TV. You can't really go through the channels and not find it being played somewhere. My theory behind the success is that Hold 'Em is a relatively easy game to understand, that both men and women play it, and that you can watch it on TV and follow the strategy of the players relatively easily. The TV monitor shows the players' cards, so it's easy to put yourself in a player's shoes and guess how you would play a certain situation as opposed to the player on TV.

ESPN has tried hard to duplicate poker's success, airing darts and dominos among other things, but they haven't found an audience. You can't very well put yourself in a darts player's place ("Gee, I would have thrown that last dart a little to the left," just doesn't work at home) and no one I've met plays dominos.

I suppose ESPN might try to move a step up from games played in bars and air something along the lines of chess, but it will probably be too cerebral for the average viewer. Plus, chess matches go on for days. Plus, it's hard to imagine Norman Chad commentating on chess ("Wow, Spassky moved his rook instead of his bishop. That's just plain bad luck for Hellmuth." Just doesn't work.)

With a record 8,900-plus in this year's Poker main event and $12 million in prize money to give away, it's a phenomenon that's not going away for a long time.

TUESDAY'S BEST BET: The penultimate episode of "Rescue Me" (10 p.m. FX) picks up with Tommy's brother Johnny getting shot and the Chief suffering a heart attack. Tuesday's best bet will always be "Rescue Me." Most of the time, it will be "Rescue Me" re-runs when the season ends. So, when you log in next week, don't expect to see anything different.

3 comments:

Zodin2008 said...

Amen! Rescue Me, once again, is the best show on Television. there is no equal.

As for Poker, I play a little Hold 'Em in Vegas but I can't get into it on a regular basis, especially on TV.

This Girl said...

Did you catch the dominoes game played by Charlie in It's Always Sunny? Sooo funny!

This Girl said...

Did you catch the dominoes game played by Charlie in It's Always Sunny? Sooo funny!