CNN, I’m Available, Really

Friday, June 10th, 2005, 11:53 am

I just read the column John Walters posted yesterday about the WSOP, and there’s no reason for me to be this ticked off about yet. And yet I am. I guess I have a problem because I spend a lot of time reading excellent and informed writing about poker, almost all of it produced by folks writing because they enjoy the game, and here’s Walters writing for one of the biggest media concerns on Earth seemingly without a clue.

Walters wrote a number of the articles at CNN about poker being playing on college campuses, articles I didn’t think much of. Nor do I think much of this collection of his random WSOP thoughts. He talks about the dramatic increase of players in the Main Event, and he writes, “This year? I was told that the Rio is capping the event at 6,600 entrants…”

It’s the “I was told” that slays me. That the Rio might limit the field to 6,600 has been bandied about for about nine months now. It’s as if Peter King, shortly before the start of the NFL season, said, “I was told the Super Bowl is going to be in Detroit this year”.

Walters makes a few more observations that appear insightful but sound business-as-usual to me. Phil Hellmuth was signing autographs? He’s been (in)famous enough that people have been asking him for years (and he’s been telling us that, too.) If you tell me that people are asking Chau Giang and Miami John Cernuto for their autographs, then I sit up and take notice.

The part that really riled me was when Walters talks about a conversation between Daniel Negreanu and an “amateur” named Marco Tranello. Negreanu is described by Walters as “(having) the mannerisms of Ed Norton in Rounders”. Uh, no he doesn’t. Negreanu is at times antic and talkative, but that hardly makes Kid Poker = Worm. Perhaps Walters is trying to establish some cred by showing that, yes, he thinks “Rounders” is, like, the coolest movie of all time. Yeesh.

Anyway. Walters describes the scene:

“Then he (Negreanu) looked at the man who’d taken him out and said, “I need some money. You got any money?”

Tranello looked at him. “Seriously?”

Negreanu, who has earned millions playing poker since dropping out of high school, replied, “Yeah. I gotta enter a tournament tomorrow.” It was a bluff, of course, but Tranello called it. He pulled a thick wad of bills out of his pocket, wrapped by a rubber band, and tossed it to Negreanu. Impressed, Negreanu pulled out five $10s, then tossed the roll back.

Only at the WSOP.”

Or, only every time those two are hanging out together. See, the amateur “Tranello” is actually Marco Traniello (I once got an F in a journo class for misspelling someone’s name), who happens to be the husband of poker pro Jennifer Harman. And if you read Negreanu’s blog, you know that he and Jen and Marco hang out a lot together. And that Marco is hardly just some shlub tossing money around. They KNOW each other, Mr. Walters.

Walters then talks about the final of the College Poker Championship. Displaying the same keen insight into the game he showed in his previous articles, he writes:

“The pivotal hand occurred when Coughlin was dealt pocket rockets (pair of Aces) and Flood, in the big blind, was dealt an 8d2d (8 of diamonds, 2 of diamonds). Coughlin called. The flop came 2h8h8s, giving Flood a full freakin’ house. Flood went all in (more than $200,000 in chips) on the river and Coughlin went with him. Flood doubled up (more than $400,000 in chips) while Coughlin was left with $137,000.”

The writing is unnecessarily clunky, its sufficient to just say “eight of diamonds and deuce of diamonds” and dispense with the 8d2d, and there’s no need to say $200,000 “in chips”. But that’s just me nitpicking. No, what ticks me off is where he says “Coughlin called”. Called what? (Actually, re-reading this, I guess he just called the big blind. My bad. But it still could’ve been made clearer). He has aces, did the guy holding the crap hand raise him? Or did Coughlin slow-play his aces after Flood limped? This makes a difference, people. Is Coughlin a total idiot or was he being cagey and just got unlucky? Again, it’d be as if Peter King wrote, “Donovan McNabb dropped back to pass, and shortly thereafter David Akers kicked the extra point to give the Eagles the lead”. What happens in between is important, yes?

So, CNN, drop me a line and I’ll send over a resume. I clean up good, and I work cheap. Pauly and Otis and the Prof are already busy.

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4 Responses to “CNN, I’m Available, Really”

  1. Mean Gene Says:

    If anyone reads this and then thinks I’m an idiot for not realizing the guy just limped with the aces (he called the big blind), I did catch that and updated it. Haste makes waste.

  2. Human Head Says:

    Yet again, spot on. The idiocy of mainstream media covering poker makes me want to curl up and die. why they do not hire blogger, even temporarily, simply boggles the mind.

  3. CJ Says:

    Yeah, CNN, hire Gene!!!!

  4. BG Says:

    While Gene could undoubtedly do a good job, what the journalism world needs are more dudes that whine about not getting laid in high school. I mean, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular…

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