17 March 2007

Q: Why am I not one of the world's best poker players?

A: Because I can't do this kind of freakin' voodoo. These two hands happened minutes apart, by the way (at least on the show, which since I'm violating copyright I should at least promote, I guess: NBC's Poker After Dark, M-S 2:05am Eastern).

[The sync is slightly off on the first one, but it doesn't matter so long as you pay attention to what they have.]



12 comments:

Jeff said...

Nothing to do with poker, but... I'm very interested in your take on THE LOOKOUT should you ever decide to give it another try. Your bud Scott seems to like it, and Richard Roeper (idiot doucebag though he may be) just said it was one of the best films he has seen since he has been on the show. It seems like you used to have a thing for the writing of Scott Frank, so perhaps it is worth another shot. I haven't seen it yet myself, but maybe it contains the "big twist that recodes the entire picture."

md'a said...

I asked another critic friend about it and he confirmed that plotwise it was headed exactly where it seemed to be headed (viz. nowhere remotely interesting). And Scott says the film's strength is in its characterizations/performances, which were doing pretty much nothing for me.

Anonymous said...

Condolences re: screening update. Are you sure you need your glasses that badly, Michael? I don't see all that much blur without my contact lenses - in fact I cannot remember the last time I watched a movie, a TV show, my PC, or a PS2 game with them on.

md'a said...

Michael? That's Wazowski you're thinking of. Nobody calls me Michael except family and girlfriends.

Anyway, I've occasionally done with/without glasses tests during trailers, and the difference is vast. My uncorrected vision is not good.

Kza said...

Ugh, christ -- sorry to hear about your glasses. If I lost mine, I'd have to watch everything on my laptop.

Michael Casey said...

So, good poker = lousy drama. In my experience, standoffs between excellent players in any game of strategy tend to be exceedingly tedious, exactly because they are games of subtlety, and whoever is more aware of what is going on will (likely) be the winner.

Oftentimes the most entertaining throwdowns happen between the most spectacularly awful players. I'm sure you've had plenty of donkey ho!'s in your 25-30 hours of poker a week for the past several years; do you sometimes imagine how a donkey vs. donkey match would work out? Probably won't be enough to make poker cinematic (the "all red" scene in Ocean's eleven was hilarious, but 90 minutes of that would long exhaust the novelty); all I'm saying is that I think competitive event movies have got it all wrong. Crank up the Suck (without resorting to physical slapstick).

On a semi-related note, it would be informative for us poker non-enthusiasts to know how many times you've seen, in your large sample size of play experience, stupid-good-stupid-rare hands.

Daniel said...

This is definitely inane, but the point here is that the guy without the hood definitely knows that the other guy is bluffing when that other guy is, and then also knows when he is holding a solid hand, right? Is there some other nuance that I am missing, or is this post a thinking post as regards the later Esquire thing?

Joshua said...

daniel: The point is that in both clips, one player is able to guess exactly what the other player is holding, based solely on how much the other guy bet.

In the first clip, the guy with the hood, Laak, guesses what Eskandiari has, and in the other clip Eskandiari guesses what Laak has.

Michael Casey said...

I like the long stare Eskandiari gives Laak in the second clip after he playfully claims he's "feeling pretty lucky." The way he asks "Ace/Seven?" is one of the most awesome displays of sly machismo I've seen. "Seriously, Ace/Seven?"

By the way, is Laak's choice of attire legal in most poker circles? That huge dark hood seems like a mighty big advantage, especially given the way he keeps bowing his face into shadow (to say nothing of his sunglasses). With a Darth Vadar costume and a neurologically implanted probability calculator I could become upper class by next Tuesday.

Goran said...

Off-topic, but Mike, I'm very excited about your Cannes Wack Experiment - good luck and I beg you to keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

Also off topic, but... 99 for Daisy Kenyon? Is that the highest grade you've ever given or are there any 100s out there?

Derek said...

Impressive hand-reading skills... however, I think it is worth realizing that Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak know each other about as well as any two players on the professional poker circuit. They used to be roommates, before they got to be big-time poker studs. Still, it's not as if I can read my old roommates at the poker table like that. Respeck, yo.

michael casey:
Oftentimes the most entertaining throwdowns happen between the most spectacularly awful players.

I see your point; indeed, plenty of evidence supporting it can be gathered by watching even a modest amount of the better-known televised poker events. However, I don't agree that confrontations between top players are anticlimactic. I can think of plenty of intensely dramatic faceoffs between world-class pro players.

...By the way, is Laak's choice of attire legal in most poker circles? That huge dark hood seems like a mighty big advantage, especially given the way he keeps bowing his face into shadow (to say nothing of his sunglasses).

It's totally legal. The hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses are Phil Laak's trademark outfit, and the source of his nickname, "The Unabomber."

Sunglasses are commonplace, and a lot of players (including some top professionals) hide under broad-brimmed hats, that kind of thing. Experienced players generally agree that the only edge gained by wearing shades, hats, etc is if they are a mental security blanket for the player wearing them. Furthermore, players who talk about reading opponents visually say that the eyes and/or face are often not as telling as a player's posture, hand movements, breathing, etc.