Friday, July 11, 2014

Poker and “The Truth”

Now’s the time -- probably the only time all summer -- that I’m genuinely missing being out in Las Vegas.

The first days of the Main Event are always intriguing, in particular because they are often the only time all summer you see a certain category of recreational player well represented in the field -- amateurs taking big shots, the “bucket list” guys, and so on -- and as I was saying yesterday I think ESPN has dropped the ball somewhat by ignoring that part of the tournament (especially this year as they are skipping all of the way ahead to Day 4 in their coverage).

That said, it’s true that when the money gets closer, the bubble bursts, and then the last few days play out that things get really fun, even for those of us just watching. Again, part of the enjoyment comes from the fact that some of those amateurs are still in the sucker, their lives being affected in significant ways with every hour that goes by. But the pros rise up, too, and the poker gets more and more intriguing to follow.

And, of course, there’s that hard-to-explain feeling of coming to the end of a long journey with everyone involved -- players, staff, colleagues -- that makes the last days of the WSOP so special each summer. So I’m missing that.

I am enjoying the coverage, though, and in particular got a big kick out of the interview Rich Ryan and Eric Danis got to do yesterday with NBA player Paul Pierce for PokerNews/GPI. Pierce would be an example of that sort of player I’m describing -- the amateur kind of taking a shot, even if for “The Truth” (Pierce’s nick) the bankroll pressure isn’t quite the same as it would be for most.

I loved Pierce’s enthusiasm when talking about why he likes poker (the competitive aspect unsurprisingly is the game’s biggest draw for him). I wrote a little summary of the visit while embedding the video over on Learn.PokerNews -- it’s worth a look if you’re a basketball fan, or even if you just like seeing somebody who enjoys poker talk about why he does.

Click over and watch it, if you are curious: “‘It’s a Beautiful Game’: NBA Star Paul Pierce Talks Poker at the WSOP.”

I was saying something similar here last Friday. I enjoy hearing these positive messages about poker, but I think I also just enjoy watching/hearing people enjoy themselves, no matter what they are doing.

Pierce would bust before the end of the night, but was smiling ear to ear even as he left. ’Cos the truth is, poker really is a beautiful game.

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