Saturday, March 04, 2006


There are precious few things I find more curious than the explosion of TV programming filled with people playing card games.

Weekly TV Poker tournaments are a genuine mystery to me and that mystery is compounded when you factor in the avalanche of shows featuring "celebrities" playing poker.

Admittedly, I have a small curiosity about the characters who play in those annual million dollar, winner-take-all poker games. Those events seemed pure and feature genuine oddballs and the rare breed of professional gambler that we (the other 99.5% of the population) never run into during our annual trip to a Native American Casino (read "reparations settlement"). These players were guys with funny names like "The Hat" and they wore those "Blu-Blocker" sunglasses advertised during early morning fishing shows on ESPN2.

When one of these characters happens to win the big pot, it becomes a life-changing experience, a bona fide ticket on the gravy train to "Comp-ville" that all gamblers seek.

A few years back some executive at a basic cable network got a hold of poker and decided to force feed it to us on a weekly basis... And oh, yeah, if we want it to be really good TV... Let's add some celebrities/actors to the show.

Adding celebs to televised poker games was more tragic than anything else. It exposed the shallow reality that many of them accept as real life. I also wanted to know if they were playing with their own money? Doubtful... And if they lost, did they suffer any substantial penalty? The real beauty of any rags to riches story is just that... rags to riches...

You don't find rags to riches stories in a game with four celebrities sitting around a table wondering if their next 10mil a pic deal includes royalties on the video game sales.

Here's a little tip. Actors are people who read the words of those generally more intelligent than they are, a group called writers. Without writers, a majority of actors daily work would include explaining today's specials to you... and even those words are written by someone else.

Televised Celebrity Poker won't be stealing any of my TV or TIVO time... unless you get Matt Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Matthew McConaughey playing in a winner-take-all tourney for the next big movie role. Losers work six months as extras, for scale, no back-end, no luxury jets or trailers, real world - real work. Now that's gambling I'd watch.

Gotta Go... A&E has the opening round of $50,000 USA Rock-Paper-Scissors Tourney starting in just a few hours and I need to bone-up on the subtle nuances of RPS.


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