Friday, May 17, 2013

Ambient Noise

Shamus with headphones“Well, I’ve been to one world fair, a picnic, and a rodeo, and that’s the stupidest thing I ever heard come over a set of earphones.” --Major T.J. “King” Kong, Dr. Strangelove

I’ll admit that while I’ve been busy with other things this week, I’ve continued to linger some over that Travis Makar info dump from last Friday regarding the UltimateBet insider cheating scandal, in particular those two lengthy audio files chronicling two meetings involving Russ Hamilton, Dan Friedberg, Sandy Millar, and (on one of them) Greg Pierson.

Been snooping through the files some more, reading various articles and postings, as well as listening to still more audio regarding it all in the form of podcasts.

The most recent episode of the Two Plus Two Pokercast with Haralabos Voulgaris provided some interesting discussion, with Voulgaris providing some interesting tidbits from his experience with UB and some of its principals. However, the lengthy guest spot of Scott “ElevenGrover” Bell mostly had the effect of confusing rather than clarifying (for me, anyway).

I better liked Todd Witteles’s partial breakdown of the recordings on his Poker Fraud Alert show this week. “DanDruff” played clips (mostly from the first part of the first recording) while commenting along the way, which seemed a more constructive exercise.

Finally I heard Witteles’s ex-cohort Bryan Micon’s latest Donk Down show on which appeared both Pokerati’s Dan Michalski and the man in the middle himself, Travis Makar. A mostly maddening hour-and-a-half, I’m afraid, with neither of the hosts having listened to the audio and even Makar saying he wasn’t completely up on what the recordings contained.

Makar expressed a willingness to answer any questions from Micon and Michalski, but neither seemed able to come up with any and thus the show failed to add much of value at all other than to remind us that Makar has still more information (and audio) which may or may not be revealed at a later date.

All of which is to say, the actual significance of the recorded discussions as well as all of the other newly-publicized data obviously remain in need of cogent explanation. And probably will for a good while, I imagine.

I mentioned on Monday how the recordings uncannily recall the Watergate tapes, what with the secretive nature of the recordings being made and the discussants’ talk of covering up previous scandalous behavior while making decisions that will subsequently affect the lives of many others. The ambient noise and interruptions occasionally obfuscating certain exchanges adds further to the similarity.

Every now and then I’ll dig around and listen to those tapes Richard Nixon had made, part of my hobby-like fascination with reading and learning more about the complicated figure. Of course, I almost never do so without also looking a transcript and usually having some sort of additional annotation to help guide me regarding who is saying what and what it all ultimately means.

Given the historical importance of those recordings and the fact that they were made so long ago, it’s easy to locate various aids to understanding that can help make the experience of listening all the more worthwhile. Not to mention even more compelling. (By the way, if you’re curious about the Nixon recordings, the “Nixon Tapes” website is a good place to start.)

* * * * *

Speaking of private meetings conducted during times of crisis, I wrote a new “Pop Poker” column for PokerListings regarding Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, the 1964 darkly-comic satire directed by Stanley Kubrick that is mostly taken up with a U.S. president and his advisors meeting in a “War Room” to discuss and try to deal with the surprise launch of a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union by a deranged general.

The film actually has a couple of significant connections to poker, including the character of Dr. Strangelove (one of three played by Peter Sellars) being partly based on John von Neumann, the Austrian-born mathematician often credited with having written and co-written the works that helped inaugurate the study of modern game theory. Von Neumann wrote about poker in those seminal works, and during the Cold War especially game theory played a particular role when it came to decision-making regarding nuclear weapons.

In fact, as I note at the end of the piece, in Dr. Strangelove the War Room itself features a large circular table around which the president and his advisor sit that was deliberately meant to look like a poker table.

Check out the article, if you’re curious to read more.

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Blogger DrPauly said...

The bomber pilot (with the cowboy hat) from Dr. Strangelove bares a stunning resemblance to Amarillo Slim.

5/17/2013 1:36 PM  

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