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Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Blog, Essays | 6 comments

Will Kenny Rogers Please Learn How to Play Hold’em?


Kenny Rogers

Despite being the game’s most iconic marketeer, apparently Kenny Rogers has no clue how to play Texas Hold’em.


After so many years, one would expect Kenny Rogers to knows how to play Texas Hold’em.

But the singer of “The Gambler” apparently still has no idea Hold’em is a poker game where each player holds two cards.

Not five cards.  Two.

Rogers appears in a Geico (auto insurance) commercial which is quite funny.  He sings the familiar chorus every poker player knows — “You got to know when to hold’em, and when to fold’em….” — much to the annoyance of everyone else sitting at the table who has already heard this croner a thousand times.  Credit the creative writer of the spot, in which Rogers parodies himself for what’s probably a much-needed paycheck after countless divorces all whilst his chicken franchises ended up in the deep fryer.

What’s pull-your-hair-out disturbing about the TV commercial is that — yet once again — whoever filmed the advertisement obviously didn’t know jack shit about poker.  Couldn’t the producer hire a special consultant for a couple of hundred dollars off of Craig’s List to instruct the actors how to properly hold their cards?  Just look at them!  The way these clowns are holding their hands so casually, anyone in the room can peak at the cards and destroy the clueless victim.

Moreover, what’s with five cards being dealt out?  The only major game played in casual circles I can think of there players start with five cards is so far gone that it’s become the dinosaur of poker (I seriously doubt the boys here are playing Triple-Draw Lowball).  Please tell me, who in the hell plays Five-Card Draw these days?  If Rogers is going to sing about knowing “when to hold’em,” shouldn’t that be the game that’s being dealt?

During this fiasco, what did Rogers do while on the set?  Apparently, nothing.  Instead, shouldn’t he have refused to go along with what amounts to a total fucking farce?  Why didn’t Rogers jump up and say, “Hey, my reputation is on the line here — let’s play Hold’em,” since that’s the game I’m singing about.  Not five-card draw which is about a irrelevant as another book by Bill O’Reilly.

But that’s not the worst part of it.  Nothing screams FAKE!!! worse than seeing the clueless Rogers and the other player-actors competing for what amounts to absolutely nothing.  Except for pretzels, perhaps.  Did anyone notice something strange about this game?  Where’s the cash?  Where are the poker chips?  Couldn’t someone from the spoof run over to the nearest CVS before shooting, and buy a $15 set of poker chips?  Where is Rogers’ stack?  He doesn’t even have any chips.  He has pretzels.

“I’ll see your two pretzels, and raise you a Slim Jim.”

Obviously, poor Kenny Rogers apparently doesn’t know when to hold’em, nor when to fold’em.  Nevertheless, here’s some solid advice:  He should just walk away.  And, he should run.



Where are the chips?



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Posted by on Jul 8, 2014 in Blog, World Series of Poker | 4 comments

Andy Rooney Never Had to Do This




Thrity-six hours ago, my cell phone rang.  Or chimed.  Or whatever cell phones do.

It was Todd Anderson on the other end, the brains behind “Poker Night in America,” the new show which debuted last week on CBS Sports.

“We want you to film a segment which we’re going to insert at the end of each show,” Todd said.

Great, I thought.  What does he want to film?

“We want to film you,” Todd insisted.  “We want this to be like an Andy Rooney piece at the end of 60 Minutes.”

Wait a bleeping minute.  Isn’t Andy Rooney dead?

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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Blog, Essays, Uncategorized, What's Left | 0 comments

My Advice to Michael Sam — “Just Say No”




When Jackie Robinson shattered the color barrier and signed to play Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, team owner Branch Rickey famously cautioned the future Hall of Famer that he wasn’t looking for a warrior, but rather for a special certain ballplayer “with guts enough not to fight back.”

That was good advice then, just as it’s good advice now.

A few weeks ago, the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams selected a defensive player from the University of Missouri named Michael Sam late in this year’s draft.  Such an announcement wouldn’t normally be a bold headline.  But this particular draft pick and special player made history.  Sam’s self-disclosure as the first openly gay player in professional football thrust him instantly into the spotlight and made him the talk of the nation.

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Blog, Essays, What's Left | 1 comment

The Movie that Predicted Our Future




“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

One of the most memorable quotes in movie history comes from Network, the visionary masterpiece directed by Sidney Lumet starring William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, and Ned Beatty.  But the film’s real acumen stems from a brilliant screenplay written by Paddy Chayefsky.

When released in 1976, the movie didn’t perform particularly well at the box office.  It came out at the same time as the first Rocky movie, which won Best Picture that year.  Nonetheless, Network became an instant classic, a creative muse, an enthralling satire, and even a cautionary tale — particularly within the cynical circles of social commentary.

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Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Travel | 1 comment

News from “Poker Night in America” at Maryland Live Casino (Baltimore)



The typical “Poker Night in America” production meeting.


We just completed our fourth “Poker Night in America” television shoot, this time at Maryland Live Casino.  It’s located about halfway between Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.

Although I spent 12 years in the area — this was new experience for me.  Back when I lived here, more than a decade ago, there were no legal casinos.  There were no public poker rooms.  Every poker player who lived in the National Capitol area was forced to commute up to Atlantic City (three hours away), usually on weekends.

Well, times have changed.  Consider this.  In terms of sheer volume (overall number of games per week), Maryland Live Casino is now the second-busiest poker room in North America.  The Commerce Casino in Los Angeles is still the biggest, by far.  Maryland’s position is impressive, especially for a poker room that’s been open for less than a year.

Of course, Maryland Live Casino has a lock on all the poker action stretching all the way from Northern Virginia (a sprawling urban area), the District, Mongomery County, Prince George’s County, then all of Baltimore City and the suburbs, all the way up to near the Delaware border.  That’s about 6-7 million people within a two-hour drive.  The casino is jammed, especially on weekends.

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