Head in hands hold ’em

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.

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9 Responses to “Head in hands hold ’em”

  1. disgruntled Says:

    I love that sort of stuff – technical language so full of jargon it functions effectively as gibberish. But then I read the bridge and the chess columns in the paper just for the fun of reading whole paragraphs of English, written by someone apparently literate, that don’t mean anything at all. Personally, I think they’re coded messages to the Russians, because in the world of Bridge we’re still in the cold war.

  2. pouletnoir Says:

    Once, when in Budapest, I watched a pair of bearded men playing chess in a public swimming baths. I left periodically to go for a swim, and whenever I returned they were locked in the same stalemate. It occurred to me that they were playing Cold War chess, which consists entirely of posturing but never any substantive action. I imagine games of Twister in Budapest take on a similar form.

  3. rivergirlie Says:

    do you remember when sumo wrestling was on late at night, in the early days of channel 4? lovely solemn but utterly incomprehensible commentary. classic stuff, bet it’s on youtube somewhere …

  4. pouletnoir Says:

    And kabaddi. As soon as Channel 4 made any money they turned their backs on exotic sport. Shame on them.

  5. yarb Says:

    I too read bridge columns for the same reason as disgruntled!

    Highly recommended.

  6. disgruntled Says:

    Now look what’s happened. The bridge column in the Guardian is gone! Where am I going to get my gibberish now?

  7. pouletnoir Says:

    Anything by Polly Toynbee would suffice, surely?

  8. Tom L Says:

    Hey, the only reason we watched kabaddi on Channel Four was because it was on before Dream On. For exotic sport, always consider the context.

  9. Alexander Johnes Says:

    Why did the Guardian remove the bridge column? I loved it đŸ˜¦

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