Friday, October 26, 2012

October Nine

Just finished watching the last of the WSOP Main Event episodes that I taped over the past couple of months. As usual, ESPN did everything in its power to turn me off from watching, including (especially) with Norman Chad's inane "color" commentary. The man reportedly knows poker, but you'd never guess it from all the nit-wittery and distracting comments he makes throughout the series about his ex-wives, how beautiful some of the players are, how he made a final table himself before, that he's from Maryland, etcetera. I have no idea why they keep this guy around; he's annoying as hell and adds zero value...

...ah, but so what? I'm still hooked. I realize all the episodes up until now have been cherry picked, edited, and canned for TV, but it's still fun to watch, even if you know how it ends (as I did), and even if your own particular horse didn't make the final table (i.e., Vanessa Selbst was the one player I was strongly rooting for throughout the series; the girl is an amazing poker player).

In any case, the final nine begin play Monday night in near-real time (15 minute tape delay) and as they did last year, ESPN will be showing all the hands. They play down to three on Monday, and then finish up on Tuesday night. Vegas odds are currently as follows:
Of the bunch, I'm only really rooting against two players: Salaburu and Koroknai; the former because of his non-stop comments and tilt-inducing antics; the latter because he shouldn't be at the final table in the first place (For those unaware, there was a terrible floor ruling in his favor on day 5 of the tourney that favored Koroknai over, ironicaly, Gaelle Baumann (the same lady he ended up knocking out on the final table bubble). Read about the bad call here.)

As far as favorites go, it's hard not to like the laid-back kid Balsiger, who would be the youngest ever winner, plus he's a local AZ boy (yes, I know he's from Oregon, but he goes to school at ASU); Greg Merson, if not for any other reason than his drug addiction recovery and life turn-around story; Jesse Sylvia, purely for his unabashed happiness at being at the final table; and of course Esposito, one of the two crotchety old guys left at the table (read: I can relate), and by far the least "pro" of the bunch.

I've already set the DVR to Record for both nights. Last year, I got my non-poker playing wife to sit through the entire final two days' coverage with me. I'm hoping she'll do the same again this year.

Now, if only they can get Norman to shut the hell up it would be perfect...

All-in for now....


  1. Sorry Bug, but I actually enjoy Norman Chad's inane comments. It adds a bit of levity to the show that I find a nice break from the seriousness of the poker play otherwise. Don't know that I'm the demographic ESPN is looking for. :-)

  2. You're evidently not alone, Ted, or else ESPN would have dropped him long ago. I just want less inane comments about how "beautiful" Marc Ladoucer is sitting at the table, and more meaty stuff about actual strategy. Hell, I'd settle for meaningful background bio stuff on the players. Listen to a good TV color man during a baseball or football game and you'll know what I'm looking for. Al Micahels, Bob Costas, John Gruden, etc... all were able to keep the banter meaningful and relevant. You've never heard even John Madden once compare a player to one of his ex-wives, or go on and on about how amazing it is that a waitress from Norway is actually in the event! This adds nothing to the game, and I dare say would turn off any new person to poker tuning in to see what all the fuss is about.

  3. Yes, Bug, having them paired for 10 years says something about their popularity. TV is 1st entertainment and watching cards in hands and on the felt, unless you're a poker fan, is mostly boring, even with a good color person like Antonio. His comments depend on your having some understanding of the game. Norman's even if you don't understand poker make some kind of crazy sense to most anyone. Listen to his AJ, AQ and the players who are playing themcomments and you get some idea about poker without needing to know much about it.

    I'll even defend his "waitress" comment though I'm not sure exactly what you heard him say (it obviously didn't bother me). I actually agree with him that it is pretty amazing that a waitress, as far away as Norway (though that part isn't really relevant), a non-professional, was able and had the time to learn how to play poker that well and be able to jump into the WSOP Main Event that you, I, and many others are still dreaming about. What do you think that says to all the other folks, in what are considered lower level paying jobs, out there? Like Moneymaker a few years back, it tells them they can go for the dream too.

    You see the waitresses at the Red Garter and I see more at Famous Sam's and the other Poker Pub sites I've played at. Have you ever thought of any of them as showing up at the WSOP Main Event? Do you think they may have thought about it? Well, now maybe they will and Norman's comments help cement that thought.

    Also that commercial where they shows players (including the waitress) in a restaurant & I think elsewhere, including the Poker Brat, playing a hand I think over their phones, with an announcer describing the players and play. Who won that hand? The waitress...smarter than them all.

    Enough of my rant. :-)