The Sports Guy Puts a Bad Beat on Poker

Chops here.

Let me get this out of the way first: I look forward to ESPN.com’s The Sports Guy’s NBA draft diaries like Christmas, my birthday, or daylight savings when we gain an hour of sleep.  Bill Simmons is always funny and typically has the right take on every single issue. 

So you could imagine my surprise when the Sports Guy took out the hammer the other day in his latest mailbag and moved all in against poker metaphors, player glorification, and journalism.

You see, Simmons was asked by Brian Koppleman (writer of the fantastic Rounders and the fantastically bad Tilt), "Do you think it is time for a moratorium on all poker metaphors? Not just in your column, but in all columns in all the magazines and sites?"

“No problem,” Simmons answered. And in the spirit of mutual consideration, Simmons then proposed that, in exchange for sports writers giving up poker metaphors, poker writers cease to exist . . . ok, well, he didn’t exactly say that, but he came close. Essentially, Simmons sought an agreement to these two terms:

(1) NO MORE POKER COLUMNS; and

(2) NO MORE GLORIFYING POKER PLAYERS

Concerning his first request, Simmons said, "Stop writing them, stop reading them, just stop. We all know how to play at this point. We know that you can get screwed over on the river … it happens. We know that you can get lucky on the river … it happens. But if I have to read one more column about how the writer had three jacks, and he thought they would hold up, but then somebody else was going for a straight, and then when he saw that 7 of hearts, he knew it was trouble … for the love of God, who cares???"

Simmons then goes on to deal a blow to the "poker is a sport" groin, stating, "…It’s 90 percent luck! You might as well write columns giving the play-by-play of a scratch card you scratched off outside a convenience store."

With respect to his second proposed pact–No More Glorifying Poker Players–Simmons’s does have a point.  Let’s face it, there’s a good number of poker players who aren’t exactly "role models."  And his point that, "how hard can it be to play poker for a living when Jennifer Tilly, Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck have won major tournaments?" has some credence.  You’ve seen Seed of Chucky and Surviving Christmas, right?  But this point ultimately boils down to your take on the poker skill vs. luck argument.  Poker players are glorified because No Limit Texas Hold’em is the definitive test of strategy, wits, and guts.  As we’ve written before, it’s Darwinism at its best and practically defines the American ideal.  Man, it’s so American.  And as Otter from Animal House would say, "I will not have you bad mouth the United States of America!"

So Mr. Simmons, if we’re gonna make pacts, let’s make pacts.  If poker is truly 90% luck, let’s put this to a test.  Wicked Chops Poker challenges you to a series of one-table "sit and go" format games.  If you win one game…ONE GAME…against us or our selected players (we’re not even pros!), well, we offer you nothing, except the knowledge that poker is in fact a game of predominant luck, not skill.  We can run this all on your ESPN.com colleague Phil Gordon’s Full Tilt Poker site.  Doesn’t matter.  Rules are up for negotiations. 

Hey, we are realists.  We know the chances of this happening are about the same as hitting a two-outer on the river.  But here’s a chance for the non-poker playing journalists to prove a frequently bandied about point on that poker is more luck than skill.  In this age of poker-ubiquity-mania, could you ask for a more glorious feather in the intellectual cap than that?

 

3 Responses

  1. iPod

    August 11, 2005 7:35 pm, Reply

    That’s weird Simmons would say poker is luck over skill. I’ve read in several of his articles that he plays in Vegas a lot.

  2. BlackSpy

    August 14, 2005 8:07 pm, Reply

    How bout no more articles on poker if Simmons agrees not to write any more articles about Bill Buckner?

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