January 20, 2006

King of Vegas and High-Stakes Poker

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Mouth to Mouth

Being as I'm not playing the WPT and I decided not to endure the trip to Tunica, Miss., for next week's WSOP Circuit event, readers are prodding me to post something, anything, so they don’t fall out of the habit of reading my blog. Well, I've mostly been playing online at Full Tilt. Cash games aren't as sexy as tournaments but they aren't as streaky either.


The other night I watched the first episode of King of Vegas. Now this is a real gambling show. They've taken Survivor and transplanted it to the floor of Bally's Las Vegas. Each week, through a series of four mini-tournaments, they eliminate one player until they're down to the one, indisputable champion: the King of Vegas. And it's not just poker. The first week they started with Blackjack and moved on to Roulette and Caribbean Stud before finishing with TV's favorite son, No Limit Texas Hold 'Em.


They selected a nice variety of players: the telegenic (professional poker players Evelyn Ng and David Williams), the boisterous (Mike "The Mouth" Matusow and the equally mouthy "Hollywood" Dave Stann), the accomplished (Sports bettor Wayne Allyn Root and World Series of Blackjack champion Ken Einiger, and the hopeful (most of the rest of the field).


I liked the format and the banter, with Mike the Mouth rightly confident of his Hold 'Em advantage and Hollywood Dave verbalizing his calculations and watching as his supposedly optimal strategy got no love from Lady Luck's cold embrace. Poker is by far the hardest of the games to play and it is fitting that the final test of who gets voted off the island is the dreaded "Hold 'Em heads-up death match."


All the players used different strategies, most of them sub-optimal, but I liked Mike's theory. He didn't mind gambling it up in the table games because if he lost, he was confident of his big advantage in short-handed Texas Hold 'Em. Speaking of which, I didn't quite understand the rules of the poker round. For some reason, after one player got eliminated from the table, the player who did the eliminating seemed to get a free pass and left the table. That could lead to some odd situations in multi-way pots if that is indeed the rule. I'll be looking forward to the rest of the shows.



Also debuting this week was the Game Show Network's High-Stakes Poker. Daniel Negreanu ran over the table in the first episode of the series, which features actual high-stakes cash-game players tossing around actual money. Daniel had two "bricks" of $50,000 each that he dramatically tossed in a couple of times, pushing around notables such as Barry "Spock" Greenstein, Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson, and Ted "Teddy Bear" Forrest. I was waiting for someone to bust out as the colorful Sammy Farha, runner-up to Chris Moneymaker in the 2003 WSOP, was waiting for a seat.


The show was fascinating because the texture of a cash game can be very different from a tournament. Winning players exploit weaknesses in their opponents and Daniel made no bones about tossing around the bricks if he felt anyone was playing with scared money. I look forward to this becoming my favorite poker show.


WPT on the Decline?

The Tunica World Poker Tour event started with a mere 327 players, not only less than last year's 512 but also below the previous year's 367! This was despite there being two major tournaments back to back instead of just the usual one. Is the World Poker Tour on the decline? We'll keep a close watch on future events.


Anonymous said...


What channel and night is King of Vegas on? thx

Richard Brodie said...

Tuesdays on SpikeTV.


Anonymous said...

Glad you are at least posting something. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about High Stakes Poker. I was completely unaware of this show and I watched last night - fantastic show. It's so much better than watching an hour of coin flips on WSOP coverage.