Las Vegas, NV
Scotty Nguyen's cackle reminded me of the laugh from a dubious villain out of a 1970s James Bond movie. When Scotty unleashed a hearty laugh, you knew it was him. Scotty was late to an event last week due to a lost monkey. It's true. One of his monkeys got out of his house crawled up into a tree. A rescue unit had to retrieve it which caused Scotty to be late to an event which subsequently caused some issues because he got a full starting stack instead of getting blinded off which should have happened. That controversial issue is for another post, for now, it's just a passing thought.
Back to spanking the monkey...
Poker is not a sport no matter how hard ESPN tries to bill it as "sports entertainment." I recall Oliver Tse telling me something during my first week on the job in 2005. "Sportswriters? We're not even close. Poker writers are hacks. We're the lowest rung on the entertainment writing ladder."
Of course you have to take everything that Oliver Tse says with a grain of salt. He thinks that the 2010 WSOP will be played out in Dubai or in some South American enclave such as Uruguay. But I gotta agree with him about where I stand as a poker writer. Otis prefers the term fluffer. We fluff up the poker industry. The bigger it gets, the more money we make. Thanks God for the rake. The rake pays my bar tab. Play online poker at PokerStars and I get to self-medicate.
Poker falls more under the same genre as professional wrestling or has the same entertainment value of a shoddy reality TV series like Who's Wants to Marry a Midget?
To spice up viewership, I heard a rumor from a non-trustworthy source that the next season the fledgling WPT will add more wrestling-type features to make poker tournaments more exciting to watch. For example, new rules are being discussed that will allow throwing chairs and physical altercations. At any given time a player can hurl a chair at another player, or if they wish, they can bum rush him and jump across the table and unload with a flying elbow.
How cool would it be to see Chau Giang clothesline Phil Hellmuth when the Poker Brat is not looking and berating a dealer?
Or to watch Jeff Lisandro pull out a pair of brass knuckles from underneath his fedora and give Prahlad Friedman the business after accusing him of cheating in the 2006 main event?
I'd pay big bucks to see Greg "Fossilman" Raymer body slam Mike Mustow when the Mouth was talking smack during the 2004 WSOP main event.
Or get to watch Ralph Perry piledrive Tony G into the ground after their spat on the Intercontinental Poker Championships?
New rules will also allow animals and pets inside the ropes. Remember Jake the Snake Roberts? He'd pull his python out of his supply bag and the reptile would slither around the ring and attach itself to his fallen opponent as everyone in the stand watched in sheer horror. The new rules would Scotty Nguyen to bring his monkeys to the final table which would torment his opponents. I'd love to see some sort of monkey-hijinks involving a drunken Gavin Smith who became the target of Scotty's beloved pet monkey's wrath. All Scotty Nguyen had to do was let out a special whistle which would trigger the monkey to toss its feces on the faces of Nguyen's mortal enemies.
Like I said, this was all just a rumor that was floated around to help save the dying WPT. But if the UIGEA never gets overturn and the U.S. economy continues to go into the shitter, it's a matter of time before the Game Show Network shifts their programming philosophy and broadcasted cage matches live from Costa Rica where Erick Lindgren and Phil Ivey fight each other to the death and then the winner wrestles a grizzly bear with Doyle Brunson booking action. Those poker cage fights are a fusion of UFC Friday Night Fights meets a benzy-induced Philip K. Dick short story. Of course they are sponsored by PokerStars, where you can trade FPP points for a chance to wrestle an alligator. Otis will live blog the action.
But of course the fiercest and most gruesome battles at the present day WSOP occur away from the tables at the end of dark hallways where shady back-lot deals are discussed between final table players and online poker sites with sleazy snake oil salesmen masked as agents who broker the deals.
While you slept in between Day 4 and the final table, the vultures pecked and gouged and raped and pillaged. The same scenario goes down the night before a major final table... your favorite online poker sites was viciously ambushed by one of their competitors at the last minute and potential players were stolen away from other companies. Other dishonorable players reneged on their deals at the very last second as they jumped at the highest offer. Whores salivating over bags of cash. Six figure bonuses for the winner. That what was at stake for everyone involved. Ah, the dirty side of poker that only a few are privileged souls are allowed to see. Unless you advance to a televised final table or you are the guy carrying around bags of cash, the public has no idea about the morally tainted deals that transpire in the hours leading up to the final table.
So when people ask me my opinion about the Main Event final table delay, I immediately remark that its a horrible concept because I cannot help but think about the prolonged battle for the hearts and minds of poker players as cold-blooded agents whore them out to the highest bidder. Poker players are expendable pawns in the battle between good and evil (the haves versus the have nots) among multi-national corporations. In the end it's no longer about poker and all about escalated corporate greed of the Gordon Gecko variety. I have witnessed the gloomy ugliness that happens overnight. What will happen over a three month period of complete anarchy in the dimly lit shadows where the pimps and thieves run amuck? Online sites will get fucked and refucked. Agents will get hired and fired and re-hired more times than Billy Martin. Lawyers (essentially hired thugs in starched shirts with crackberries) will get involved and make things even worse for all parties involved. Pros will jack up their prices and agents will balloon into rich fat cats as the final nine will be bask in the warmth of their fifteen minutes of fame but they will be made to look like total shills as their upper torsos resemble the outfield wall of a minor league baseball stadium.
Take a peek at some of Neil and Flipchip's pictures from Day 4 of HORSE and the final table. Michael DeMichele is the best example. He was clean and logo-less and pure and innocent on Day 4.
The end of the innocence... before the vultures and pimps got to him...
Just a 23-year old playing poker and having the time of his life. But something magical happened overnight and he was transformed. During the final table introductions, when his name was called by Jack Effel, Michael DeMichele stepped out from the shadows and onto the main stage. He was a new man and barely resembled the guy I watched play for four straight days. He was covered in logos and patches... a third-rate energy drink, an online website that was famously fingered in an cheating scandal, WPT Bootcamp, and a patch from his agent's company. Talk about sinking to a new low. Pimping your own agent and taking blood money for a site where there was verified rampant cheating for almost two years.
At the final table
I can't fault DeMichele. I would have whored myself out too to the highest bidder. After all just like the line from Jerry Maguire... It's not called showfriends, it's showbusiness, right?
On a good note, DeMichele also wore an Ante Up for Africa patch which was refreshing to see someone with any semblance of a heart. Although the kid sold his soul, he had some pity for the atrocities of the Darfur genocide occurring in the heart of darkness of Africa.
TV time equals Benjamins. That's what tournament poker is really all about. Advertising. Branding. Get players on TV. Get lots of face time. Promote your products even if it's a third-rate sugar water or everyone's favorite online poker site like PokerStars. By the way, play online poker at PokerStars.
And don't get me started on the poor quality of energy drinks that are being fore fed down the throats of every poker player looking to stay up and get off so they can keep on gambling. I drank it and it's bloody awful sugar-water which eats the paint off of cars. They also sell bottled water that has a tinge of mercury-taste in it. I have visions of a warehouse full of illegal immigrants (most likely from Guadalajara) who are pouring tap water into slick designed water bottles then sealing the caps with blowtorches. They wrap them up in white boxes and then ship them off to the Rio.
Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.