Monday, September 17, 2007

Poker on the Radio

'This American Life' on NPROver the weekend I happened across this week’s episode of This American Life on National Public Radio. Each week Ira Glass hosts the hour-long radio show which presents multiple segments (or “acts”) each of which approach that week’s theme from a different angle. This week’s show is titled “Meet the Pros” and features several examples of amateurs getting to interact with high-level achievers in various fields (e.g., science fiction writers, basketball players, etc.).

The second segment -- “Act 2: Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run” -- concerns poker. Some of the 26-minute long segment is taken up with interviews Glass conducted back at the 2001 WSOP (for an earlier show). He talks with Jennifer Harman, Paul Phillips, Phil Gordon, and Mike Laing. Linda Johnson and Rafe Furst turn up as well.

The program covers what I imagine is familiar territory for most of us. The pro player’s lifestyle, psychology and math, luck and skill, women and men, compulsive gambling, handling losses, and Gordon’s Rochambeau silliness all come up along the way. Still, the presentation is smartly-handled and one does get a carefully-constructed, thoughtful glimpse of the life of a professional player.

As interesting as the pros are, it is Glass himself who makes the show worth a listen. Doesn’t sound as though he was much of a poker player back in 2001 when he visited with these players, but since then he’s become increasingly interested in poker, especially online. Glass says he plays nearly every night, most often on the intertubes (for real money). So in fact in this particular part of this week’s show Glass himself is the amateur who getting to rub elbows with the pros -- and to imagine what it might be like to become one.

Toward the end of the segment Glass reflects a bit on his own play. He admits he’s not the best player (“I don’t have the patience,” he says). He also speaks of how sometimes while playing his journalistic instincts will overwhelm his ability to play correctly. In other words, he is more interested in finding out “what happened” (e.g., was his opponent bluffing?) than making the right move. He makes a couple of other interesting observations that I imagine should resonate with a lot of online amateurs.

Like I say, the show is worth a listen. Here is a link to the page describing the show. You can download it here. The poker segment begins about 20 minutes in.

Refreshing, really, to hear a competent report on poker from a “mainstream” media source (if one considers NPR as such). More often than not, they get it so, so wrong.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Cell 1919 said...

Just popped in to say hello, yes I'm still reading, even if I'm not commenting.

To be honest sometimes the posts are so comprehensive it's difficult to know what to say that would add anything!

All the best Shamus :)

9/19/2007 7:51 AM  

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