Cringe-Worthy TV

Tuesday, October 18th, 2005, 9:33 pm

I’m not one for watching metaphorical train-wrecks, but tonight’s WSOP coverage had some great horrible stuff. Let’s start with the usual Hellmuth nonsense. At first it wasn’t Phil stirring the pot. It’s fine to ask him what kind of doctor his wife is, and fine to laugh when he says that she’s a psychiatrist. It got a bit much when the other players started asking if she prescribed his Prozac and stuff like that. Something got said that had Phil’s upper lip curling with peevishness, and for a change I agreed with him. I’m still taping the second episode so I can’t go back yet to see what it was.

But of course he lost it eventually. First he tells a guy(I believe his name was Joe Pittman, I’ll correct if I’m wrong) who just suffered a bad beat that it wasn’t a bad beat (which it wasn’t, as Phil correctly pointed out, as Pittman started out behind, went ahead, and lost to a runner-runner full house. Tough hand, but no bad beat). Still, Pittman probably didn’t want to hear that from Phil or anyone at that moment. The next hand the obviously steaming Pittman raises with KJ, Phil calls with AK, Joe shoves in his stack and Phil calls in a shot. The fact that you know what’s gotta be coming puts an exquisite edge to the tension. Pittman rivers a jack, and Hellmuth goes conpletely bonkerino. “This guy can’t even spell poker,” was his best line, while “this guy” is sitting right next to him. Pittman should’ve said “P-O-K-E-R”. Phil goes on and on and on about what a terrible play it was, how Pittman is a donkey, how he’d never make a play like that, he’s a nine-time bracelet winner…thing is Pittman looked pretty pissed and insulted, and also looked like he could fold Phil into thirds and put him on a shelf. But he just sat there and let Phil wander off to put him down to everyone in earshot. Pittman said “What a crybaby,” which perhaps he shouldn’t have after they way he reacted to his earlier beat, but I’d like to see someone react to one of Hellmuth’s rants with some creativity and aplomb.

It was a pretty ugly outburst. No, not ugly–it’s pathetic. If it happened once, you could sympathize. Twice, sure, some people handle frustration with a bit less aplomb. But watching Phil melt down over and over no longer makes me feel the warm caress of schadenfreude. It’s pitiful. He actually went off again after Paul Magriel knocked him out, but that may have been residual fury from the hand before. He’s a great talent in a field where great talent is often at the mercy of dumb luck. You could see the skill in the way he played tonight–laying down AK to the guy who made aces full was a nice play, which of course he took elaborate credit for. And then there’s the way he ran the table, getting players to talk to him, to answer his questions, to show him their cards after a hand. It showed how a table captain can dictate play. But his outbursts have now so totally eclipsed his accomplishments that he’s like ESPN’s trained monkey. “Let’s wait to see if Phil embarrasses himself again!”. And he comes through time after time.

I’d think the best way to deal with Hellmuth (or any bullying player) is to just ignore them. Don’t talk, don’t respond, just go about your business as you see fit. Perhaps in such a hypercompetitive setting it’s difficult to dial it back and be passive. Perhaps more poker players should study jujitsu.

The guy with the big hair and wearing the Beckham jersey, who kept screaming at the top of his lungs and got a penalty for language…I think he’s the guy who irritated his fellow players in a different, ah, sensory manner. I think. I have to go back and read Pauly’s archives to confirm.

Good lord, some of the people they showed were dressed as though auditioning for a zombie movie. Ghastly.

Adam Schoenfeld should start a blog. Or maybe I should check to see if he does have one.

Andthen in the second episode we had Mike Matusow carpet-bombing the Rio with F-bombs. His tablemates rose to his defense when he was accused of throwing cards at the dealer, and you could see that Mike was really exorcised about it. But then he let go with a sotto voce expletive and we were off. The floorman hit Matusow with a 10-minute penalty, and Mike went a wee bit loco, and let go with another, and another, and another, and when he finally corralled his tongue he had a 40-minute recess. It does seem a bit ludicrous that you can’t say “fuck” at the poker table, everyone’s over 21, but rules are rules, right…

Man, I fucking HATE the expression “rules are rules”. The last defense of mindless authority. Fuck it. Fucking fuck it all. Good fucking night.

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8 Responses to “Cringe-Worthy TV”

  1. Donkeypuncher Says:

    I tried finding a Schoenfeld blog right after the 2nd WSOP episode. No luck. I found some CardPlayer articles he’s written.

    Based on the people I’ve seen in the tourney thus far, I’m guessing the ladies at Pauly’s “hooker bar” made a killing. I bet at least one middle aged man lost his virginity. Scary, scary crowd.

  2. Tapin Says:

    It was nice to see pretty much the entire Matusow incident — I heard about it from someone at the table later on, but it certainly seemed to me that it’s actually possible that the dealer really did “have it out” for Matusow. Naturally, that was only the start of it — the extra half-hour was entirely on the Mouth.

    No f-bombs is a great rule, up there with no knitting needles on airplanes. Seems like they’d much rather give an appearance of combatting abuse than actually taking steps towards really eliminating abuse in a meaningful fashion.

  3. Otis Says:

    The guy in the Beckham jersey did have a problem. Word on the street was he hadn’t washed the jersey…ever. I could smell him three tables away. While his antics were a bit amusing, his smell was not. Later, the floorman made the dude change his shirt. THAT was funny.

    On an unrelated note…I need your mailing address. Send it to me at editor at pokerpapers (you figure out the rest, but it’s the one that came to your mind first).

  4. iggy Says:

    oh man, great post. thank you, i’ve still got a smile on my face.

    and damnit, now i’ve GOT to procure a copy of these episodes. rgp had quite the time discussing it but, of course:

    menegene > rgp

    btw, (without having watched) – i’m at the point now where i gotta believe phil is completely contrived.

  5. BSN Says:

    In the unlikely event that I’m ever in a position to lay a bad beat on Phil, I plan to react to him by ripping off my shirt and rubbing my nipples, a la the Full Tilt commercial.

    BSN

  6. Ugarte Says:

    Even more annoying than Hellmuth was the Brit trying to horn in on Marcel Luske’s personality. Luske was clearly annoyed and I would have been also. I was so glad to see that dude bounced.

    Also, re: Magriel. Phil didn’t even seem to consider for a second that he was much more likely to have pushed that stack with two high cards than with a high pair. But he’s an embarrassing baby. I really wish the Italian guy had just let Phil ask away and then make the call. He did give away that he had a really strong hand. (Though with hole cards exposed I may be giving myself too much credit.)

  7. pfym.net Says:

    You didn’t even mention the “Makeover” in them middle of the coverage. Great stuff it got me thinking that maybe I should have male models, showing off the latest styles at my weekly game. I mean ESPN must be on to something here. The new Style meets poker trend. Instead of playing for money I am going to play for manicures next week!

  8. Princess Says:

    This really needs an opt-out oioptn, other than dropping our of Google’s search engine altogether. That they won’t let you see their traffic stats but feel quite happy to show everyone elses (or do they?) is sheer hypocrisy. “Do no evil” has yielded to the corporate creed, “gimme $$”. The Google that shook up the net when it got started, not only with its technology, but with its principles is long gone and instead it’s now just another greedy corporate entity with no respect for anything but the bottom line.Please direct all flames > /dev/null

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