The next big thing– The World Blogger Tour

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004, 4:43 pm

Yes, the first event of the WBT is scheduled for Feb. 22, and yours truly is IN. So far the oddsmakers haven’t listed me on the board, but I’m sure the sharks consider me dead money. I believe they’ll find to their cost that this fish ain’t so easy to fry.

It promises to be a hell of a good time, with lots of serious trash-talking and krayzee all-ins. I may pull a Hellmuth and show up 20 minutes late, just to intimidate everyone else. Or I might go all-in on, say, my first seven hands. If I last that long.

This will be a new experience–playing with people who actually have some skill and guile. I’m not without skill and guile myself–I’ve won 4 or 5 SNGs at Party. But that’s a wee bit different than, say, winning a multi-table tourney, as PokerGrub did the other day. I don’t think the play is going to be as insanely loosey-goosey as your average $5 SNG. I’ll have to do some serious no-limit study to keep from getting schooled.

NBC broadcast a show featuring that “other” tour Super Sunday. I doubt NBC was thrilled with the makeup of the final table– I’m sure they were pleased that Howard Lederer and Gus Hansen were there, but the other four lacked true poker-star power. No maniac Layne Flack, no stylin’ Paul Darden, no Devilfish. Add the fact that Hansen went out on the SECOND hand (yes, he can be beaten) and Chris Karagullyan on the fourth and you’re left with Lederer, Juha Helppi, Jose Rosencrantz, and Ron Rose. Great players all, but after watching Clonie Gowan, Evelyn Ng, Nicole Sullivan, and Mimi Rogers play poker the last few weeks, these four gentlemen failed to fully engage my attentions.

The hand Lederer lost to Rosencrantz was a nutkick. Holding AK, making two pair, and having the miracle two-outer hit on the river. Even tho I was rooting for the Ubervegan it was worth seeing him take such a brutal beat just for the spectacle of him leaping (no, not leaping…lurching) out of his chair.

The first time we saw Ron Rose, at Foxwoods, he looked out of his depth. In retrospect that was the toughest final table of that season, by far. You had Rose, who later won in Reno; Howard Lederer, who won 2 WPT events; Layne Flack, who won the Celebrity Challenge; Phil Ivey, who made it to the final table of 3 WPR events; and Andy Bloch, who made it to the final table of 2 WPT events. Rose was shortstacked and got knocked out quick. But he won at Reno, and he played pretty well last night. Except for the two occasions when he was decided if he should call a raise and he asked the raiser, “You got a good hand?”. If he asked me that question I’d say, “Yes I do, Ron! I have such a good hand that I bet three hundred grand on it, Ron! I sure hope if you call me you don’t end up with a better hand, Ron!”. Yeesh.

I thought I’d like the new time-clock the WPT is using this year, but I didn’t. A minute isn’t long enough, for one thing. Especially when you’re trying to get a chip count and figure out if you’re getting the proper pot odds to make a call. If it takes the dealer 30 seconds to count up a $650K bet you only have half-a-minute to make a potentially fatal decision. I also didn’t like the way the clock tick-tocks down, it’s really annoying, and the little “shot-clock” they showed in the corner was dark purple with dark-blue numbers. You could barely read the thing. But the worst part of it was how, when the time ran out, the room went dark and the lights on the insert of the table turned bright red. It was too much like a cheesy game show instead of a serious poker tournament. That’s where I think the WPT folks could screw this up, by turning what is a serious, high-stakes gambling event and turning it into a goofy game show. The celebrity shows have already started poker down that slippery slope, and we can only hope that the upcoming WPT season is as serious and enjoyable as last year.

Shana Hiatt looked rather glamorous, did she not? This isn’t the Travel Channel, remember, this is NBC, this is the bigtime. Expect to see Shana on the next DOA sitcom Jeff Zucker and NBC minions spew forth.

OK, gotta go borrow Super/System from my brother and cram. Gonna show you guys what the “Mean” in Mean Gene, uh, means.

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