"Let's shuffle up and deal!!"
Despite the advent of the school year, I always look forward to August because it means one of my favorite television indulgences: poker (the World Series of Poker Main Event, to be exact). I don't know why I love it so; I just do. I am a terrible poker player myself, because I value my own money too much to really take a gamble, and because I tend to get bored with it pretty quickly and start doing sloppy playing. So it makes no sense, then, that I would find watching OTHER people playing poker so fascinating.
Very early in our marriage, Kyle and I stumbled upon this televised poker tournament, and for one reason or another we decided to give it a shot. For those who are not familiar with the WSOP, it really is the mother of all poker events; weeks and weeks of smaller tournaments (which are really too many to watch) culminating in the Main Event, a No-Limit Texas Hold-Em tournament with a $10,000 cash buy-in and (in some years) over 8,000 players. Oh yeah, and the prize for the winner is usually several million dollars, depending on the number of entrants that year. The actual World Series is held from the end of May until mid-July, but the Main Event is televised on ESPN at the rate of two hours per week (one hour usually equaling one-half to one day of play) from August until November. And we are a captive audience; you would think we'd have better things to do.
But there's just something comforting about seeing our favorite players year after year, following their ups and downs, celebrating or bemoaning the unlikely hands that sometimes come up. It's like a little poker soap opera for us- there are players we love, and players we love to hate. We would love to see a professional win, even though the number of amateurs is always a better bet, statistically speaking.
So here's who we're rooting for this year (every year, really) in the WSOP Main Event:
-Almost any pro who is a quiet, tight player (someone who doesn't bluff super-often)
-Almost any female player, except those who try to flirt their way to wins
-A humble amateur with a low-paying job and a family to support who won their entry fee in some other tournament
-Kyle is always rooting for Phil Ivey.
-I am always rooting for Howard Lederer (the first episode we ever saw followed him through some very good tournament play, and I cannot betray my first poker idol). I will also accept Annie Duke, Howard's sister (I even read her poker book).
-We both like Daniel Negreanu, who is almost creepy in his ability to call what his opponent has and who always knows the odds of his particular hand winning.
Here's who we are NOT rooting for:
-People who are really loud and disruptive
-Celebrities (except Jason Alexander, who is fun to watch, a good sport, and consistently a good player)
-People who are whiny babies when they lose a hand or who make fun of or bully their opponents
-Guys who just turned 21, and who got all their practice playing online instead of going to class at their (soon to be former) respective colleges
-Phil Helmuth and Jamie Gold
So here's to August, and to the WSOP. Maybe one day we'll outgrow it, but this year you'll still find us, two mild-mannered, financially cautious Midwestern homebodies watching everybody in Vegas play for the bracelet and the really big money. What are the odds?