I have a confession to make. No, I haven’t watched Cliffhanger again. It’s this: I quite like televised poker. I like watching familiar characters testing their nerves against one another, playing the odds and having to cope with high-stakes success and failure. But none of these is a winning argument. You could say the same about watching Formula One racing, a spectator sport so rich in techie knowledge and so sparse in incident that you may as well be watching Stephen Hawking reading The Silmarillion.
I like the deathless commentary and, in particular, Jesse May, a host so out of place in a jacket and tie that he might conceivably have gotten his break in television in an advertisement for PG Tips.
I know that I’m in bad company with TV poker because the advert breaks are so ghastly. There are endless pleas to send text messages to “girls in your area”, for example, but the most nauseating advert is one for pkr, an online poker video game. The voiceover, which accompanies footage of electronic poker players posturing like gang members in West Side Story, is so densely packed with jargon that anyone who said it in real life would be sent home to watch a Formula One qualifying session. “I’ve come in over the top of pot-sized raises with middle pair, bluffed under the gun with four runners behind me, folded pocket kings on a hunch,” the polygonal man says. “I’ve survived bad beats, sick draws and cold decks, and I’ve lived through fields of thousands to make the final table. Here I come.”
I despair. These guys are giving geeks a bad name.