11 Apr 2007
I, like many of you out there, am a fan of poker. But, I, unlike many of you out there, do not have standard cable. What I do have is a cable company that doesn't really mind letting me watch ESPN and GSN (Game Show Network) for free. God bless all of them. So although I miss all the World Series of Poker action on ESPN2 and the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel, I do get to watch High Stakes Poker on GSN. It features the regular cast of poker characters: Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Chris Ferguson.
To those who don't know about poker yet, well, it's time you did. How could you not get addicted, like the rest of us, watching the 2003 World Series of Poker on ESPN? That year about 900 people entered the tournament and a fellow named (and I'm not making this up) Chris Moneymaker, an (and I'm not making this up) accountant, won 2.5 million dollars. That year was the first real big breakout year for poker on TV. In 2006, the champion was a guy named, of all things, Jamie Gold, and he won 12 million dollars (the field was 7,000 people strong).
The great thing about it is all of these guys have their own personalities, and, because it's poker, nicknames. Kid Poker. The Magician. Jesus. The Unabomber. The Mouth. Some guys are cool under pressure, others are not. Some throw their money away, some just get bad beats.
You may be thinking, "YAWN. What do I care about poker? I played when I was young and all we did was hit hit hit and then have to shuffle again." True. I thought it a big waste of time until 2003 when I learned me something. Well, these guys aren't playing draw poker. They're playing Texas Hold 'Em (google it for directions). Everybody gets two cards and then there are 5 community cards you can use to make your best 5-card hand. It's tons more fun than shuffling all the time. The great thing about high stakes poker is that it's a cash game, so the players are playing with their own money; they really care how they do. And the great thing about High Stakes Poker on GSN is that the announcers are hilarious - you can't tell if they hate each other, if they know what they're doing, or what. It comes across as endearing and entertaining.
So, ante up and add High Stakes Poker to your TV schedule. You'll be a fan in no time, too.