Anyone Care about Poker Anymore?

Ivey made the World Series Final Table.

Ivey made the World Series Final Table.

Poker may not be as healthy as ever, but it’s certainly healthy enough.  Personally, I’m completely over it for the most part, and wonder every time I open the trunk to my car why I bought that set of poker chips.  The allure of poker remains, however, because people see it as an opportunity to make a quick buck.  They treat it as a version of the lottery, only they convince themselves they have the skill to increase their odds of winning.  There are many people out there who can make their living playing poker, but there are far more who cannot.  These are the people that the real pros rely on. 

A friend of mine has a friend who quit his job to play poker online.  If you saw what this guy put into his play, you’d probably stop playing online for fun.  He plays 24 tables at a time.  He has computer programs tracking player’s trends, tracking every statistic imaginable.  He has a formula that guarantees a certain level of success.  He plays it by the numbers, and it works out, but there doesn’t seem to be any glamour in it at all.  It seems like a grind to me, and maybe not as bad of a grind as some job you hate, but a grind none the less.  The point is, you really have to be dedicated, and love playing to pull this off.  You’re not going to plop a hundo down at poker stars, and all of sudden be a millionaire.  Not how it works. 

In other alternative career news…I was sent a link by BK the other day to a story that chronicles the rise of professional beer pong leagues.  It makes sense.  Anything that requires a skill like beer pong…you can make a league out of.  I just wonder if people will have any interest in watching others play beer pong.  Everyone loves to play, but does anyone like to watch.  People watch poker because of the high stakes, and they put themselves in the hand.  There’s no decision making in Beer Pong.  You just have to hit cups.  As much as I’d love to win 20 grand playing beer pong, I think it’s a slight tarnish on the purity of the sport.  I think a lot of the character has been taken away by this commercialization…some tournaments don’t even use beer…and that, well, that just can’t be good.  It’s the Baseketball dillema. 

Information regarding Beer Pong for Cash, and the World Series of Beer Pong can be found at www.bpong.com

Tom, Just Stop It!

Watson Lost the Outfit Battle, Won the War at Turnberry in '77.

Watson Lost the Outfit Battle, Won the War at Turnberry in '77.

The British Open has a Christmas morning feel sometimes.  Already well underway by the time you wake up, you never know exactly what you are going to get.  Is is socks, or a new bike.  It was definitely a bike this morning when I woke up to find Tom Watson had gone out and shot 65, taking the early lead not long before his 60th birthday.  Watson is the ultimate British Open performer of the modern era.  A five-time champion, he stared down some of the biggest names in history to cement his reputation.  Last year, it was Greg Norman finding the game of his youth, but Watson this year would absolutely dwarf that story.  Tom has done this a few times before, most notably at Bruce Edwards’s final U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, but his runs eventually faded.  It’d be great to see Tom’s name stick around the leaderboard for as long as possible. 

For those not aware the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry produced one of golf’s all-time duels.  Watson and Jack Nicklaus essentially lapped the field, and made the weekend a two-man event.  Watson shot 65-65 on the weekend, and Nicklaus 65-66.  Watson won by that one shot, and the eighteenth hole provided great drama as Watson stuck his approach to a few feet only to watch Nicklaus sink a putt from across the green to force him to make his short birdie.  He did, and the rest, is history as they say. 

Other news from the British:  Scoring conditions are as good as they’ll be all week.  Mark Calcavecchia was one of the first out, and he said you wouldn’t find Turnberry playing any easier.  This is an interesting point for the players who didn’t start well, notably Tiger Woods.  Tiger is currently in the clubhouse T-53rd, after shooting a 71 in the opening round.  We’ll get to see Tiger’s round on replay later, but it sounds like it was an up and down affair for TW.  Some wayward drives, and some missed putts from that crucial 10-15 foot range cost him a better result.  I’d still say he’s lurking though, he’ll just have to hope that the course is still vulnerable Friday afternoon. 

Stewart Cink, Camillo Villegas, Vijay Singh all sitting towards the top of the board.  It’s a nice leaderboard, even without Tiger.  His playing partner, Japanese phenom Ryo Ishikawa, shot a 69, which I’m sure was the highpoint of his young career, besting Woods.  My pick, Hunter Mahan off to a real slow start, no surprise there, and blog sentimental favorite, David Duval matched Tiger with 71.  So, some people would say he’s tied for the lead.  Duval battled again, coming back from 3-over to post the respectable score.

The End of the ’77 Open:

Oakmont Update.

Slim's Still in Town.

Slim's Still in Town.

Thanks to everyone for bearing with me the last couple days during the All-Star Break.  Everything back to normal on Thursday.  The British Open will be well under way by the time I get up tomorrow, in fact, it may nearly be done for the day, but again it will be pushed to the back burner.  I wanted to check in with everyone regarding my quest to shepherd Will Holt along in his quest to make the PA Open field at Oakmont.  I went out and played with Will today at Kennett.  There’s a country club out there, who knew…and it was the first time we’ve played in a while, and it gave me a chance to assess the game. 

What I learned:  Will doesn’t have blades anymore (sigh of relief).  Here’s a golf tip that Will finally picked up on.  If you hit more fairways a round than greens, you probably shouldn’t have blades.  So, Will has the Victory Red cavity backs which are actually blessed by Tiger Woods himself.  Not only that, but for the first year after purchase Earl Woods is your golf guardian angel.  It’s powerful stuff they’re doing over there at Nike. 

So, he’s hitting the ball pretty well.  Driving it well, hitting an occasional green, putting nicely…the game appears to be in good shape.  Of course, we played his home course which tips out at 6300 yards, but it’s tricky.  It’s very, very tricky.  I had my share of problems, but then again, when don’t I these days?  I did hit at least 3 good shots, and I think I held my Miller Lite better than anyone else in the group.  Certainly better than someone…

Will took down four beers, and remained poised.  This is an especially good sign considering I will be dragging a coleman wheelie cooler filled with BL down the fairways of Concord on Monday.  The Pennsylvania Golf Association can, pardon the expression, choke on a deazy.  I’m joking, the cooler will be on a cart. 

In all seriousness, what are the chances he takes one of the ten spots out of 100 something?  It is important to know that several top players are already exempt.  So, the field is not as stacked as it could be.  Secondly, the handicap cutoff is 7.4?  Anyone north of 3.0 in this qualifier has virtually no chance.  Also, the field is littered with club professionals.  Some of these guys play great, others probably don’t know where the first tee is at their club because they spend 65 hours a week humping the counter in the golf shop.  In short, some of these “pros” will shoot 86-ish.  Concord is a tough course, but Will’s got the length to handle it, and can make a frustratingly high number of putts.  I’m putting his official odds at…wait for it…6:1.  I wanted to do 5, but the kid’s a space cadet. 

Tee Time Monday: 12:40 PM.  I’ll set it up again Sunday Night, but Live Scoring will be at www.pagolf.org