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NFL Draft vs. Poker

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NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby jjoyce » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:54 am

I found myself wondering why anyone would watch either one of these "events" over the weekend. On Sunday, NBC televises an hour or two of their poker tournament, providing neither context nor enough of the "action" to figure out what's going on in any of the head-to-head matches.

Plus, all these jerks have "personal brands" and the beauty of it is that all the personal brands are horrible. There's the Italian guy, the guy who looks like Jesus, the guy who wears his hat backwards all the time, the guy who dresses preppy, the girl who wears leather, the guy who looks like an accountant. And then there's this Phil Hellmuth guy from Madison, who might be the worst personality ever to show up on TV, including Bill O'Reilly. Evidently, the fact that these people have won a lot of money gambling makes them compelling enough for a serial TV series?
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby fisticuffs » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:02 pm

The first round of the Draft can be exciting. I wasn't glued to it by any means. Ended up watching it in a bar between a wedding and a reception. Just enough to get my fix. My favorite part of the sport is watching the guys go through college and enter the NFL. Wish I could say the same for NCAA basketball but those guys are one and done if they don't decide just to go make some cash in Europe for a year.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby MeLurkyLongTime » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:20 pm

I'll stand up for poker here. If you play it is pretty interesting to watch, you are sizing up cards and hands and figuring out how different people play different hands in multiple scenarios. You can learn a lot about card play but also look at people's tells and apply the knowledge to games played in real life. But if you don't play I can see how it would be a little boring. And yes Helmuth is a whiny bitch, but sometimes it is pretty funny.
Oh yeah and I watched the first round of the draft, but had to leave after the packers pick.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby Igor » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:52 pm

MeLurkyLongTime wrote:I'll stand up for poker here. If you play it is pretty interesting to watch, you are sizing up cards and hands and figuring out how different people play different hands in multiple scenarios. You can learn a lot about card play but also look at people's tells and apply the knowledge to games played in real life.


To me, the best aspect of poker on TV is the young guys that don't appear to realize that a whole bunch of boring hands are edited out of those broadcasts. As a result, when they play, they are ridiculously agressive, which usually results in them winning big early, but later losing a whole bunch to some slow-playing old guy. (that would be me)

Last time at Ho Chunk I think I had the perfect table for me - the agressive players weren't good, and the good players weren't agressive.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby boston_jeff » Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:32 am

Aggression, luck, and skill wins poker tournaments. If you are not aggressive, the blinds and antes eat you up. The cash games you describe at Ho-Chunk are very different, and a different style of play succeeds. And yeah, those are some of the softest casino tables I've ever played. But waiting around for hands and "slow playing" is not a proven style in tourneys with an escalating blind structure. It just won't do the job.

And Joyce, poker on TV is great, if you know how to play and you love the game and want to learn how the top pros (and the donkeys) play. If it didn't pull in ratings, they wouldn't show it. I personally DVR all WTP, WSOP, High Stakes and Heads Up broadcasts. Watching them is fun, improves my game, and I enjoy the colorful characters. What would competitive sports and games be without the big personalities and the oddballs? Pretty damn boring.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby jjoyce » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:39 am

The game has nothing to say for itself without the jerks, is all I'm saying. Unlike just about every other televised game, there's very little you can apply to it from a commentary standpoint.

Even hard-to-appreciate sports like lacrosse or ultimate frisbee are easy for absolute novices to watch, because someone's doing something interesting and dynamic.

With poker, it's guys in sunglasses sitting there TRYING to look more bored than the other guys. Sometimes, a mildly attractive woman shows up who is elevated to "hot" status just because she's in a room with pear-shaped dorks.

My final jab at poker: The Super Bowl has a ring and maybe the best trophy in sports. Hockey has the Stanley Cup. The Masters has the green jacket. Poker has a bracelet.

Seriously. A bracelet. And that world championship bracelet is referred to constantly, as in "You can say what you want about him, but you can't argue with his four bracelets."

Right. Wouldn't want to argue with a dude wearing four bracelets. He might be wearing a few necklaces and a pinky ring.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby MeLurkyLongTime » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:49 am

Seriously? A green jacket?? Who thinks an ugly green jacket is anything? At least the bracelet has some value. And while we are at it golf is the most boring pointless thing to have on tv not poker.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:13 pm

jjoyce wrote:Unlike just about every other televised game, there's very little you can apply to it from a commentary standpoint.

As a non-sports fan, I find this hilarious considering the inanities that pass for commentary during football or baseball games.
Poker commentary is almost pure analysis of the odds -- an actual knowable thing, unlike the guesswork and useless stats tossed around by other sports commentators.

That said, I'm no fan of TV poker -- but that's because I think Texas Hold'em is a pretty stupid game. I'm sure it's great if you've got an enormous bankroll and think bluffing is the end-all and be-all of poker, but give me a good stud or draw game any day.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby jjoyce » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:46 pm

Best football commentator: John Madden, who helped millions of Americans understand line play and defensive philosophies and better understand the most popular sport in the country. Even as he was losing his game a little bit, he was still better than 80% of the guys out there.

Best golf commentator: David Feherty, a relative no-name as a player whose colorful references and understanding of the sport likewise make its rituals more accessible to the average fan. He's fun to listen to.

Best basketball commentator: Charles Barkley, as entertaining as he is knowledgeable. More importantly, he's willing to actually say something about the players, assessing their weaknesses with as much conviction as the kiss-ups like Mike Wilbon assess their obvious strengths.

Best baseball commentator: Bob Uecker, play by play and color in the same package and, on any given night, funnier than Leno and Letterman.

Best (only?) poker commentators: Gabe Kaplan and Norm Chad. The next time one of these guys says something interesting, it'll be the first time. I mean, I've actually given this game a chance and not learned one damn thing about it from watching the broadcasts. It might actually help your understanding to turn the sound down. These shows are commercials for godaddy.com and Full Tilt Poker, from what I can tell.

I seriously wonder how these things do vs. bowling, NCAA softball and snowboarding.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:20 pm

Lemme be clear: I wasn't suggesting that poker commentary was actually good -- I just think that, as a fan, you don't necessarily realize just how stoopid most sports commentary is to those of us who don't give a shit. Non-music lovers are equally baffled by music criticism -- if you're not coming from a place of knowledge already, it all just sounds like people who like listening to the sound of their own voice.

That said, even I agree with some of your picks: Madden and Uecker generally entertained even me. But for every one like them, there's dozens of vapid, worthless commentators. The other difference is that there just isn't much to learn about Texas Hold'em (which I think is one of your complaints.) Like I said, it all boils down to the odds. "Playing styles" are irrelevant if you never get a decent hand, as anyone who plays poker regularly will tell you (and this is especially true with blinds, since you're often forced to bet big on really sucky hands.) You can have the greatest poker face on the planet, but you can't win just by bluffing. Sometimes, you actually need the better hand.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby boston_jeff » Tue Apr 28, 2009 3:53 pm

I love stud, draw and Omaha, but NLHE is the Cadillac of poker. And bluffing is one of the most important skills in poker, no matter what game you play. I am what is considered a "math" player vs. a "feel" player (I focus on hand, pot and implied odds when I play). I still have to bluff and semi-bluff a lot of hands in order to win, regardless of whether its a cash game with set blinds or a tourney with escalating blind/ante structures.

If you are a casual to proficient level player, poker on TV and the accompanying commentary is entertaining and educational. If all you do is play a mixed game 3 times a year, you're not going to get the analysis, the humor, or the strategies that the commentators and players employ.

Discounting poker on TV if you know nothing about the game (particularly NLHE), is the equivalent of me knocking Nascar. To me its just turn left and crash once in awhile. Does that mean Nascar commentators, the drivers, and racing fans are a bunch of inane babblers? No. I just prefer to avoid watching it, don't understand it, and have no interest in the analysis, the humor, or the outsized personalities in the sport.

Why watch it and impugn it, if you know not what you speak of?
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby Marvell » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:10 pm

boston_jeff wrote: Discounting poker on TV if you know nothing about the game (particularly NLHE), is the equivalent of me knocking Nascar. To me its just turn left and crash once in awhile. Does that mean Nascar commentators, the drivers, and racing fans are a bunch of inane babblers? No.


Logic FAIL.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby TheBookPolice » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:12 pm

I watch poker on TV, I watch the NFL Draft. I've also watched a movie on people who play Scrabble--not actually of them playing Scrabble, necessarily, but of their lives leading up to playing Scrabble.

Passion, competition, personality. Those are the draws. In that order. As for the NFL Draft, Mel Kiper Jr. provides enough passion to fill Radio City. Seeing him nearly speechless at Oakland's first- and second-round picks was as compelling as non-athletic sports TV can get.

And that includes golf. ZING!
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:47 pm

boston_jeff wrote: And bluffing is one of the most important skills in poker, no matter what game you play.

Absolutely! And I never meant to suggest otherwise. It's also one of the most satisfying aspects. Getting dealt a straight feels great, to be sure, but getting everyone to fold via psychological warfare is much more fun. And frankly, reading my earlier post, I realize that I misspoke. The commentary of TV poker all boils down to the odds (because what else is there to talk about?), but the gameplay itself is mostly just bluffing. The actual excitement in NLHE is the cash on the table, not the cards; it's a game where people generally just bludgeon each other with high bets on low hands. Bluffing is much harder in a low-stakes game without community cards, IMO, so I find it more engaging.
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Re: NFL Draft vs. Poker

Postby jjoyce » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:05 pm

Here's why I'll watch it, impugn it and kick it in the groin: Because I'm a 39-year old white guy who watches a lot of sports on TV and I'm actually offended when there's poker on instead of golf, basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, ski racing, etc., etc. And it's not because I only like to watch athletes (I admitted to enjoying golf). It's that I want to see an interesting story develop. That's what a sports contest is to me, the ultimate in reality TV. When NBC Sports devotes several hours a year to televising something, it should be worth covering.

I mean, if there existed a more perfect specimen for audience development than the guy typing this, I'd like to see him. I actually write 250 words a week for a newspaper about sports and games. I go to a half dozen Home Talent baseball games each year. I stood on the shores of Mendota a couple weeks ago for a postponed rowing race. I've been to amateur fight night at Doubledays in Cottage Grove. If they were putting out a decent product, I'd pay attention to it.

Here's how it actually happens: I read an article in the New Yorker about Chris "Jesus" Ferguson and his revolutionary "game theory" approach to playing poker (It's cute that Boston Jeff thinks he's a 'math' player). It's fascinating. So I tune in on Sunday when my other plans are rained out to watch actual poker pros playing actual poker. By the end, I'm completely confused. As far as television is concerned, this falls somewhere between a fitness infomercial and an ice cream maker infomercial.

Am I supposed to be impressed by this? Are these little characters devised by the players supposed to draw my interest? Is the table chatter and commentary designed to be entertaining, informative or compelling at all? The funny stuff isn't funny and the cool stuff isn't cool. I could put together better television with a mic and a Flip cam at Vitense Golfland on a random Saturday afternoon.
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