Los Angeles, CA
High Stakes Poker... Year 1 after the crucifixion of A.J. Benza. Another casualty of the new American Past Time... downsizing. Benza was replaced by an entire call center in Banglore, India who will be mis-pronouncing the last names of this year's rounders.
AJ Benza's banter was noticeably absent. Listening to Gabe Kaplan's solo play-by-play was on the dry side and his jokes lacked the "bounce" and "bite" that they used to have. No AJ to play off of. Kaplan's solo act was kinda depressing, sort of like first time you jerked off after you got dumped by your girlfriend.
The only new wrinkle that I approve of is the addition of former EPT hostess Kara Scott. Yummo. Kara Scott is and will always be fetching. I love her sultry "finishing school" accent. Reminds me of Maude Lebowski in The Big Lebowski.
Kaplan was at the top of his game in the sarcasm department. His best zinger... when he remarked that Hellmuth had an uncanny following in Europe which made the Poker Brat the "David Hasselhoff of poker."
I prefer to watch High Stakes Poker in bunches of two or three episodes in a row. That's my alternate or backup time killer when I'm on the road, stuck in an airport, or in a hotel room with nothing on TV except a Mexican soap opera and infomercials. I watch episodes online or download them. I rarely watch High Stakes Poker at home on TV, let alone live during its normal broadcast time, yet that's what happened. The Olympics were in the middle of a section of... well, um... less than masculine events such as figure skating. Luge is kinda boring now because the track is less dangerous and those damn Germans are so fuckin' good. Two man luge is... well, um... falls under the banner of suspicious flamboyant behavior.
The new season of HSP features three Euros including Italian Wonder Boy Dario Minieri, and two Scandis... Andreas Hoivold and Gus Hansen. Hoivold the Laconic Norwegian arrived with perfectly messy hair but sans a garish hoodie. Durrrr is representin' the cult online Gen-Yers, while the other seats are filled by regulars Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and Antonio Esfiandari.
And how could I forget that scoundrel Phil Hellmuth? The Poker Brat walked onto the set as a major mark, like a fish anxiously spending his first night in prison. The bad news is that Hellmuth lost his buy-in. The good news is that the annihilation of his stack happened so fast that we hardly noticed.
Gus Hansen was in the middle of one of his worst online losing streaks when filming began at the Golden Nugget in early December. The Great Dane had dumped $3 million during the five weeks leading up to the taping of the first episode. Durrrr also dropped almost $6 million in same time frame after he was ravished, pounded, and violated by the ghost of Isildur1.
Ivey, on the other hand, looked relaxed after the November Nine hoopla finally ended. He quickly went to work gobbling up most of Hellmuth's stack on two hands. Ivey and Hellmuth pushed each around pre-flop. Hellmuth played A-J fast, like a Scandi on speed. But he ran into Ivey's Q-Q. Ivey shoved while Hellmuth gave a mini-speech and folded. Durrrr's $2,000 offering to Ivey to show his cards if he had a pair of Jacks or better was dismissed by Ivey. "I don't like to show..." was Ivey's curt answer. That's why Ivey is the best of the best. He doesn't get off on showing cards. He'd rather let Hellmuth sweat it out a couple of months.
Hellmuth lost half his stack early on and didn't last very long. On his final hand, Hellmuth found himself all in with a Jack-high flush draw and an OESD against Ivey's pair and King-high flush draw. The flush filled in on the river and Ivey stacked Hellmuth. The Poker Brat sulked off. No rebuy for the Brat after he quickly pissed away $200,000. Ah that's nothing. All he has to do is make a couple of those self-affirming motivational speeches and he'll recoup his HSP losses.
Thought to ponder... plenty of NAPT Venetian commercials from PokerStars.net filling the commercial breaks. I haven't seen any online poker commercials during the Olympics... yet.
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