Pride Goeth Before The Fall

Friday, February 18th, 2005, 6:17 pm

I bragged on not getting sick this winter, so of course I get sick. Played volleyball last night, felt fine, except for my goddam foot which has something weird wrong with it and hurts like hell. But at the bar afterwards, about halfway through my first beer, I felt this wave of exhaustion come over me. Not the good kind of exhaustion, like after 2 hours of VB or a night of drunken debauchery. No no. I knew I was getting sick, but how sick was up in the air.

Until I woke up this morning feeling like crap and with total laryngitis. Couldn’t even croak. Took a hot shower and was shivering under the spray. So I called off work (hopefully conveying thru grunts and rasps that I was sick) and slept till noon. Feel tremendously lousy.

Tilt was on the plasma TV at the bar last night, and from time to time I took a look at it, and even though there was no sound I could tell it sucked. I’m starting to wonder if there will be any backlash against ESPN from the casinos or any of the top poker players at the WSOP. Or indeed from the local government in Vegas.

I mean, I don’t know exactly what happened, but I saw a cop murder a guy in cold blood in his office (said cop being totally in the pocket of the casino owners), I saw a low-level casino employee try to kill some Vegas lowlife (who ended up being the guy shot in the police station) and a janitorial guy look the other way when confronted with the would-be homicide. I saw a guy who is allegedly one of the world’s best poker players but has to cheat to beat even vacationing morons beat the crap out of his would-be protege because, though I admit I’m not sure, he picked up something at the table between the 3 main characters who are trying to revenge themselves upon them.

The show has not cast poker, poker players, casinos, casino employees, and Vegas law enforcement in a very positive light. Actually, it’s made poker, poker players, casinos, casino employees, and Vegas law enforcement look like the biggest collection of scum this side of al-Qaeda. Now, I’m not a network executive, but as televising the World Series has been a ratings champ for ESPN, and ABC (and Disney) haven’t been doing too well in the last few years, I don’t see the logic for dragging poker and everything related to it through a season of prime-time mud. Especially as the show (what I’ve seen of it) is incredibly trite and cliched and stupid?

All across the country there are movements to get poker legalized in places where today it is strictly verboten. Heck, we just legalized slots here in Pennsylvania and two Democratic legislators are trying to get table games approved as well, though the Governor seems to think that might be a bit too much too soon. If I oppose the legalization of poker, could I come up with a better PR campaign than the one ESPN has provided free of charge? Just tape the shows, mail a copy to every lawmaker in the state, and ask, “Do you want people like these in our great Commonwealth?”. It’s hard to argue back that Tilt is just a TV show, and a really lousy one at that, especially when the show airs on the network that shows about 500 hours of poker a month.

The show Playmakers did the same sort of hatchet job to the NFL and allegedly the show wasn’t renewed because a number of NFL bigshots expressed their extreme displeasure. Money talks, so I’ll be interested to see if anyone associated with Vegas or Harrahs or even any of the top poker players do anything in protest.

While I vegetated I put in a tape of the 2004 WSOP just to lull me to sleep, and I saw the hands that cost author Matthew Hilger his poker life. I didn’t know it was Matt who got his aces cracked by Al Krux, who hit his 2-outer on the river. Ouch. After the cards were turned over Dee Archer cemented his title as Master of the Obvious by saying, “You only play big hands, you only play aces!”. And then Matt got knocked out by Harry Demitriou, even as Norman Chad cheered Matt on because he was wearing an ESPN hat. At least we know ESPN didn’t fix the WSOP.

OK, I’m gonna go root around the medicine cabinet and take a handful of random pills. I’ll let you know if I hit upon a fun combination.

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