NOTICE TO READERS:
For the first time since I launched this website (in August 2012), my football betting bankroll has been completely wiped out. Hence, this is the first football Sunday in more than two and a half years where I am NOT posting my weekly picks.
I could go off in many different directions about this — from expressing humor to outrage (sometimes one and the same). I could make lame-ass excuses or complain about my bad luck. But my decline and ultimate defeat as a football bettor for this period all boils down pretty much to three things:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….
If he were alive today, Charles Dickens would have plenty of things to write about.
Dickens’ most acclaimed novel, A Tale of Two Cities, depicted common life in London and Paris during the late 18th century. As troublesome as his stark portrayal was to readers during his day, the desperate plight of those earlier times now seems downright gentile compared to the lurking dangers and anxieties of living in a seemingly dystopian modern world now filled with nuclear weapons, global terrorism, and the outbreak of killer epidemics.
In so many ways, it seems we are living in the worst of times. If there’s any doubt, take a look around. Generations before never had to worry about crazed fanatics crashing airplanes into skyscrapers, or releasing biological or chemical weapons into our major cities. Our ancestors lived mostly quiet lives on farms or in urban centers and kept to themselves. They had much simpler lives. Sundays were for church. No one needed a Xanax. Sure, daily life wasn’t always a picnic for ordinary people. Life could certainly be hard. Then again, the average medieval villager never had to endure a TSA search or suffer an IRS audit.
So then, it would seem these are — the worst of times.
But are they really? Let’s think about that for a moment.
Actually, the answer is — no.
In fact, these are the best of times — and by a very wide margin. Living conditions are constantly improving by leaps and bounds each and every year. People are much healthier and safer now than in yesteryear. As hard as this might be to fathom given all we read and hear about all the horrible things going on in the world, compare the status of people living today with any other time in history.
In today’s essay, I shall do precisely that:
It sure has been a weird couple of weeks.
First, the political party shackled to billionaires, banks, and big business shoplifted won an election fair and square.
Next, despite not doing much actual singing during her horrendous shows and struggling badly to sell tickets, Britney Spears was presented with a key to the city by some local hacks in a bizarre official ceremony in Las Vegas where the presenter forgot to bring along the key.
After that, what remains of Buffalo, New York was hit with so much snowfall that the local residents there are going to be pissing ice cubes at least until next May.
Then most recently, we now find out that America’s “favorite dad,” Bill Cosby is, in fact, a serial rapist who drugged more than a dozen victims.
What next, 80-year-old Charles Manson marrying a seemingly normal 26-year-old pop tart from the Midwest?
I mean, what the fuck?
Writer’s Note: Last week, Martin Jacobson won the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event. Yet, as one former winner reveals, like a fine wine, sometimes a true champion in every sense of the word materializes not in a flash of victory, but instead following more than a decade of deeper reflection.
Of the 15 world poker champions crowned in this, the current century, has any winner been more erased from the game’s recent memory than Robert Varkonyi?
The 2002 World Series of Poker Main Event champ never quite received the respect nor the fame he was entitled to — acclaim whether deserved or not just about everyone else that won since 2000 was able to enjoy. While other champions profited from cozy seven-figure endorsement deals and lucrative public appearances, Varkonyi went back to being Mr. Anonymous — Robert Varkonyi, the forgotten champion, as in the fill-in-the-blank subject of “whatever happened to…?” Not that the 53-year-old Everyman seems the least bit fazed by this concerted oversight. Yet, somehow that makes our collective abandonment even more egregious.
Talk to Varkonyi and he’ll readily admit that he prefers a day-to-day existence of relative obscurity, even within the poker world when he so chooses to grace it, which has become increasingly rare nowadays. An argument can even be made that staying out of the spotlight became a sort of hidden blessing for the low-key financial investor who still lives a quiet life along with his part-time poker playing wife Olga, and two daughters Victoria and Valerie, in Brooklyn, New York.
Someone approached me a few days ago. His comment took me by surprise.
“You’re not at all what you seem to be,” he stated. “You’re not at all what I expected.”
Huh? I wasn’t sure how to take those comments exactly. I’m not what I seem to be? I’m not what he expected? How’s that?
The man went on to explain he’d read my writings. He’d watched some videos, where I often rant about various topics that piss me off. He even mentioned that he’d seen me on the “Poker Night in America” television show, where I occasionally go off the deep end towards the end of the program.
Yet, in person, I was none of those outlandish things he expected. Perhaps he was expecting some kind of crazed lunatic. I guess I turned out to be a little boring to him. I was certainly disappointing.
Phil Hellmuth Crowned Main Event Champion in Pittsburgh at the Rivers Casino
Another Star-Studded Cash Game Filmed for “Poker Night in America”
Pittsburgh, PA (Nov. 17) — By any measure, it’s been an eventful week for Phil Hellmuth, Jr., best known as the 1989 world poker champion and the all-time leader in WSOP gold bracelet wins.
He began his Sunday night in Las Vegas, by giving the induction speech for the legendary Jack McClelland, who was officially inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame.
The following two days, he spent several hours appearing on national television as part of ESPN’s coverage team for the World Series of Poker championship finale.
Then, it was off to Pittsburgh for an appearance on “Poker Night in America,” which is broadcast weekly on CBS Sports. Hellmuth played in the televised cash game for two full days, which was also shown via live stream.
You might have seen a video that’s been getting lots of attention lately. It was shot last month at a major university.
Several college students — presumably between the ages of 18 and 22 — were asked some simple questions about government and history. These queries
were on subjects that just about any school-age child would be able to answer. The very notion that these ridiculously easy questions were being targeted at college students seemed downright insulting.
The whole setup was just the start of what would became a disgraceful episode. The brief on-the-street exchanges which followed revealed the vast deficit of basic knowledge lacked by so many Americans, including segments within our society which are supposed to be among the smartest. We’re talking about adults taking advanced university courses here. After all, if college students don’t know the answers, would you expect the numbers to be any higher among those who are less educated and who lack current academic ties?
Case in point. Several students didn’t know the name of the current Vice President of the United States. Fair enough. Joe Biden isn’t exactly a household name. He isn’t in the news every day. But the next question and the blank stares which followed were jaw-dropping.
“Who won the American Civil War?”
NOLAN DALLA: 2014 NFL SEASON RECORD (through end of Week 10)
68 WINS – 62 LOSSES — 1 PUSHES
STARTING BANKROLL: $10,000.
CURRENT BANKROLL: $4,275.
NET GAIN/LOSS: – $5,725.
BEST BETS OF THE WEEK: 6 – 9 – 1
Must I do everything around here?
I already do your handicapping. Do I also have to do your thinking for you?
When I say “fire on the teaser wheel,” your only question should be “how high, Sir?”
Well today, my answer is — SKY’S THE LIMIT.
As in “bet it all.
Final score: NY Rangers-3, Pittsburgh Penguins-2
That wasn’t the final score.
In one of the wildest NHL games you’ll ever see, the closing moments of tonight’s New York Rangers–Pittsburgh Penguins game played in Downtown Pittsburgh ended as a shocker. It was so insane, almost half of the 18,000 fans in attendance completely missed it. Here’s what happened.
One of the most intriguing World Series of Poker championship final tables I’ve ever covered has come to an end.