Poker Mania : Do You Have The Nuts?
Poker, and the ever growing army of poker dorks, are everywhere
If you've been anywhere near a TV set that is hooked into basic cable anytime in the last 2 years you've probably noticed that, at any given time of day there is a poker match on TV. Some good, some bad, some educational and some downright idiotic. From ESPN's coverage of the World Series of Poker to the Travel Channel's World Poker Tour and all the celebrity variations sammmitched between, there is absolutely NO getting away from poker on the toob. There are at least three celebrity poker shows on these days (Celebrity Poker Showdown, Poker Royale, and the downright bizarre NASCAR drivers poker tournaments) a grip of professional and semi-professional poker programs - ESPN's WSOP and their drama "Tilt", Travel's WPT, Fox' Superstars of Poker, syndicated Ultimate Poker Challenge (taped at the Plaza in Vegas) NBC's Heads-Up Poker Championship, PLUS the telecasts of various tournaments all over the universe. If THAT weren't enough poker to drown you on the river... even the pay-per-view fake-nookie channels have a slew of Poker Babes playing greased naked Texas Hold'Em tournaments. These "tournaments" inevitably end up in a giant felt-top orgy with chips and cards and dealer buttons attaching themselves like barnacles to the pile of bodacious bimbettes joined together like Tinkertoys by double-dong dildos jammed into any number of their myriad orefices.
Once the realm of cigar chomping mobsters, slick willie hustlers and cowboy road gamblers, the poker table is now filled with computer programmers, doctors, college students and SportsCenter addicted jock-types (i call em 'poker dorks'). The only three cowboy hats in the room these days belong to 'Amarillo' Slim Preston (road gambler), Doyle 'Texas Dolly' Brunson (road gambler) and Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson (computer dude). To be taken semi-seriously as a Poker dude, you need to have a 'nickname'. Good ones currently in use are "Unabomber" and "Devilfish". Less thought out nom de plumes include "The Mouth" "The Brat" and "The Magician". I've decided that my poker name is going to be Chuck "The Chuckmonster" Monster. Take that you dorques! Other poker linguistics such as All-In, Flop, Suck Out, Fold, Nuts and Tilt have entered the collective vocabulary and will probably have their relative poker definitions enter the dictionary shortly.
Poker is absolutely everywhere, Starbucks, old-age homes, family rooms, lunchrooms, dormitories, churches, inner sanctums, boardrooms... you name the place and I'll bet the nut flush that they are playing poker there.
Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and Nixon were all known to be good poker players. I on the other hand, am not so good. I've played a bunch of poker in my life, not a massive amount, but enough to know the rules of all the games and some basic strategies. I grew up playing cards, mostly "May I?" which is a variation on contract rummy (Shanghai Rummy to be exact). My folks taught me "May I?" for money at a ripe young age, I piled my cards on the table in stacks because my hands weren't big enough to hold all 10. We also played Michigan Rummy, and very occasionally Stud, Baseball or 7 card "no peeky". If I lost, the change would come out of my piggy bank, if I won... the change would go into the piggy bank. We always paid up and would never welch on loans. These weren't high stakes games - the most you could lose was about a buck (late 70s valuation). Once, my older brother convinced me to play a game of 52 Card Pick-Up with him... as I'm sure someone has to you as well.
A year or so ago a colleague at the "day job" (actually a guy with a big long fancy title that starts with a V and ends with a P) asked me if I would like to come to a Hold 'Em tournament he was having at his house. He knew that I had some experience in poker and was schooled in the rules and strategies of casino gambling and Vegas in general - and rightly figured that I was dead money. I said "yes" and shortly thereafter an Evite landed in my email box. The day of the tournament came, I rustled up my $60 buy-in and bellied up to the table. About two or so heart poundingly exciting hours into the tournament, I found myself at a new table that was chock full of big stacks and heavy hitters. I went all-in on the short stack with JJ, called by a 10 10 (by Pat Poels - won the 2005 Omaha HiLo bracelet at the WSOP) and a QQ in the blinds. The flop came Q 5 2 rainbow (Pat folded) and the rest of the cards I forget. I was out. Hung out to dry... but I made it almost 1/2 way though the tournament, not bad for a newbie. Recently, my colleague at work held another tournament. This time I fared quite a bit better - 9th place out of 23 entrants. Didn't get to the final table, but who cares... I have ZERO interest in becoming a poker dork in the true sense of the words.
With all this hoopla surrounding the WSOP these days I decided that I'd go to the casino and take a stab at some poker, partly for my own edification and partly because I'm sure there's tons of people out there who like poker but are a little intimidated about playing it in a casino atmosphere against a potentially dangerous sea of cardsharps. Being that this is the age of the interweb I decided to bypass the whole "driving thing" and instead let my mouse lead me to one of the plentiful online poker rooms and taste a little of the non-stop poker action. First stop? PartyPoker.com... upon loading up the website it automatically downloaded an .exe application that would run on my Windows computer. Unfortunately, I don't use a Windows computer - TRASH. Next stop? FullTiltPoker.com - again Windows only. Next stop? PokerStars.com - again Windows only. Who does a Mac user gotta blow around here to play some online poker? Answer: PokerRoom.com. The application runs inside your browser - no download required. Ding!