Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Murder in the Cards on CSI

For a while I’ve been planning to create a special “Poker and Pop Culture” page here on Hard-Boiled Poker that will link to the various columns I’ve written under that heading both here and elsewhere, getting them all in one place for easy access.

As I start to get that page together I now have a new entry to include, a write-up of last week’s poker-themed episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation that appeared on CBS. I wrote about the show for my “Pop Poker” column on PokerListings, and the article appeared yesterday as “CSI Features Poker Serial Killer (and Tom Schneider).”

I’d known that CSI had an episode involving poker coming up for a few weeks now, having spotted a couple of reports highlighting David Cassidy’s upcoming guest spot on the show as an aging poker champ. As it turned out, Cassidy’s turn was mighty brief as his character gets offed in somewhat gruesome fashion even before the opening credits roll.

I had no idea my buddy (and 2007 WSOP Player of the Year) Tom Schneider was to appear on the episode as well until just a couple of days before it aired. Schneider happened to know the show’s producer who called him up a couple of months back asking about getting a consultant to help them with poker-related details. One thing led to another, and Tom ended up getting recruited to play a poker dealer -- a non-speaking role, but his character in fact is significantly involved in the episode’s twisted plot.

Read the article to learn more about how Schneider got involved in the show and a little more about the premise and story. I purposely avoided getting too detailed with explaining the episode’s plot or revealing any spoilers, since I know folks reading the article might not have seen it and might be curious to do so. I didn’t even get into talking about the two hands of poker that get highlighted in the episode, including the one from the final table of the 1997 Palermo Poker Classic (meant to resemble the WSOP Main Event) that ultimately sets what turns out to be a long-delayed revenge plot into motion.

In that hand a player flops a set of aces, then Cassidy’s character makes runner-runner quads with his pocket kings to win the hand. Here and elsewhere, the script writer, Gavin Harris, throws in a few details that poker players might find distracting as either improbable or not really accurate as far as an individual hand or the playing of a tournament goes. But he does ultimately figure out a whacked-out way to build a whole serial-killer plot out of the playing of a single hand of hold’em, with individual cards providing inspiration for various murderous methods (and in one case, the weapon itself!).

Reading around today, I am seeing how a tennis-themed episode from January featured a tennis racket as a weapon, with Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport, and Justin Gimelstob among that show’s guest stars. Looks like that show also features some knowing references to the world of professional tennis, not unlike some of what happens with regard to poker and the WSOP in this latest episode, the title of which in fact comes straight from tournament poker, “Last Woman Standing.”

At the end of the PokerListings piece I make a couple of disclaimers about the episode, one of which is to acknowledge that you’ll need to be able to suspend your disbelief a bit to enjoy it. The other is to warn the squeamish about the gore, which frankly amazed me. (I’m thinking of one scene in particular -- anyone who sees the show will know which one.)

I hadn’t really watched CSI much since it first began airing over a decade ago. So while I was aware of general complaints about the show (and prime time graphic violence, broadly speaking) I had no idea how far the standard had moved for what is allowed these days over network teevee.

Some of my academic writing has been about film, including a new article in the latest issue of Paracinema which I mentioned here back in January. Some time ago I found myself focusing on horror films for a while and among the pieces I published were a couple about Halloween III and The Stepfather -- two ’80s horror entries that get grouped with other “slashers” of the day. (If you’re curious about those old articles of mine, click the film titles to read posts over on FilmChaw where I talk a little more about each.) But even with that background, I was still surprised a little by last week’s CSI.

Anyhow, with those warnings having been made, I’ll echo what I say at the end of the PL piece and say that poker players might well find the episode interesting -- and perhaps somewhat different from the usual ways poker tends to pop up in mainstream popular culture.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger darrelplant said...

Won't be watching the show since I waaaaay overdosed on it while converting the CSI CD-ROM game from its original Windows version to the MacOS, but I have to ask: If a serial killer kills five people, is it a straight or a flush?

3/05/2013 6:18 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...


Actually, the murders are associated with the community cards as they were dealt (by Tom Schneider!) in that quad kings-versus-set of aces hand mentioned in the post.

3/05/2013 6:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts
Older Posts

Copyright © 2006-2017 Hard-Boiled Poker.
All Rights Reserved.