The mainstream media often get things notoriously wrong.
Consider the case of Mark Twain’s “death” being erroneously reported in the (now-defunct) New York Journal daily newspaper in 1897, eliciting his famous quote in response, “the report of my death was an exaggeration.”
It seems mainstream media haven’t learned much over the last 116 years. In recent months, major media have reported poker’s popularity is declining. Last month, the Associated Press ran a national news story claiming the poker boom is over (See Feb. 28 article: “As Trend Wanes, Vegas Casinos Fold on Poker Rooms”). As evidence, the report cited a number of poker rooms closing down in Las Vegas — as if that’s really the metric of global popularity. Hint: It isn’t. The AP article claims: In Sin City, epicenter of the poker craze, at least eight rooms have folded in the past two years. The trend is also playing out in Mississippi riverboats, Indian casinos and gambling halls near big cities from California to Florida.
Even usually reliable and more knowledeable sources in poker media are spreading the myth. Since “Black Friday” in April 2011, numerous feature stories posted at various poker news sites have spotlighted the negatives — including (professed) declining popularity in some markets, the cancellation of poker programs on television, lackluster tournament attendance, and the demise of online poker inside the United States.
To be perfectly clear, poker does face serious challenges ahead. However, this assertion that poker’s popularity is declining is not only demonstratively false, it grossly neglects plenty of evidence which suggests otherwise. In fact, the opposite is true. Poker has never been more popular than at this very moment.
Fact: More people worldwide are playing poker today than ever before.
Today’s column makes me feel dirty for writing it.
Not because today’s column is about sex — because I see nothing wrong with two consenting adults engaging in physical acts as natural as eating and drinking. And not because the salacious “crime” of prostitution is hereby alleged, which is perfectly legal in the world’s more advanced countries where local laws aren’t written by Bible-thumping hillbillies.
I’m sickened by writing today’s column because it forces me to expose myself to the tacky musings of bottom-feeding creeps who revel in the lascivious details of others’ sex lives.
You know who you are. In recent days you’ve posted “breaking news” to Facebook. You’ve used your Twitter accounts. You’ve made wicked comments at the various poker forums. You look at scandal as entertainment.
Well, I have a question or two for you.
What fucking business is it of yours (or mine) who is having sex with who? And if you’re really that interested in details, then why is this so? Is your own sex life so utterly unfulfilling that you must project your natural curiosities upon others — more specifically those who are more successful that you are? Please tell me — what does this say about you?
Furthermore, why is this the media’s business? Moreover, why is this law enforcement’s business?
Note: Here are a few stories from my last two weeks spent in the lovely garden state paradise of Atlantic City, New Jersey….
Atlantic City Short Story #1: For Whom the (Fire) Bell Tolls
What do you do if you’re staying in a nice hotel and the fire alarm suddenly goes off in the middle of the night?
Let’s be more specific.
You’re exhausted and have just climbed into a warm cozy bed at 4:15 am. It’s 26 degrees outside. You’re slumbering in your birthday suit.
Alarms are ringing all over the place and some annoying-ass recorded voice over the hotel loudspeakers in the hallways are all blasting evacuation instructions.
This is precisely happened last Friday night here at Caesars Atlantic City.
Worse, fire engines were roaring outside.
So — what would you do?
The Scene: Atlantic City, New Jersey
The Date: December 5, 2005
The Problem: I need to raise $120,000 in cash by the following morning.
Sometimes, it’s a wonderful life. Other times, it’s not.
If you want to discover who your friends really are — try to borrow money. This is especially true in the poker world.
On a bitterly cold night in December of 2005, I was in a state of panic. I desperately needed $120,000 in cash by the following morning. The time was 7 pm.
At the time, I had about $150 in my pocket. That left me $119,850 short — give or take a few coins.
A bad situation was made much worse by several problems. First, this was a Monday night — the slowest time of the week in Atlantic City. Second, it was 20 degrees and snowing outside. Third, the Philadelphia Eagles were playing on Monday Night Football, which meant anyone I could conceivably shake down for money was busy watching the ball game. Finally — this was the deadest time of year, early December on the New Jersey shore. The place was a ghost town.
So, what does one do? Where does one go to raise $120,000 in cash when you’re desperate and failure is not an option?
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Mark Fleddermann.
Over the years, he’s led what can be described as an unglamorous existence, grinding out at living at the poker tables. If surviving on a fluctuating bankroll and weathering the financial swings that accompany playing for a living were to be an art form, then Fleddermann would be poker’s Picasso.
By 2009, Fleddermann had long since departed his cherished St. Louis roots and had moved to Las Vegas. Trouble was, the poker games on The Strip were getting much tougher during the post-boom era and Fleddermann was going through one of the worst runs of his life. Making matters worse, the world economy had tanked by January of that year, leaving many of the game’s best players scrambling trying to raise a stake.
Nearly penniless, Fleddermann was nearly out of options. That’s when his old pal Tom Christopher stepped into the picture.
Fellow veteran grinder and St. Louis native Christopher was just as fed up with the Las Vegas poker scene. So, the desperate duo started mulling over the possibilities. It was perfectly clear. They needed to do something drastic. It was time to get out of town. Trouble was — both men were busted. Besides, where would they go? What would they do? Get jobs? Shudder.