The Future of Poker... It's Bleak, It's Dark, and Pretty Pathetic.
Tom Dwan and Tiffany Michelle two of the four horses of the Poker Apocalypse...
Wheeeeeeee. Wheeeeeeee. Wii, Wii, Wii, the felt is going to be taken over by a new breed. It's internet whiz kids. Anybody catch an episode of Poker After Dark on NBC this week? It's Vets vs. Nets as the new generation of internet poker stars square off against Dolye Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Huck Seed. Brian Townsend, Tom Dwan aka Durrrrrrrr (or just your average vampiric shut-in tethered to the broadband connection in his parents basement), and a kid whose name I don't remember but is probably worth 100,000 of me.
Anyway, if these guys are the future of televized poker we are all in trouble. Don't worry about the mortgage crisis putting a dent in poker revenues the real bringer of the poker apocalypse is Durrrr's personality. I'd rather take a razor blade to the any of my skin tissue that is dark pink then be shut in a room with him. Then you factor in they speak in internet pokerese. Sure, I can follow what the kids are chatting about "100 Big Blinds, 3bet... blah, blah, blah" but will the average poker viewer trade in the dangerous appeal of somewhat shady guys talking in coolish poker lingo for a bunch of Magic the Gathering Vets who talk in abbreviations like they are straight out of Silicon Valley. I think the luster is gone. You could see it on Doyle and Johnny's faces.
Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan both looked like they were contemplating just shipping it with any two rather then spend another 5 minutes with those kids. Durr, all 94 lbs of him, starting bragging about a pushup bet he won (1,000 in a month? Maybe it was two either way... yawn) and said of course he did that when he was in shape. Yeah, when he was 98 lbs soaking wet. You gotta give Huck Seed credit, normally reticent and quiet, he patiently listened to the two prepubes (Townsend seemed more in line with the Vets then the kids) who should be playing at a card table set up by mommy and wagering their cookies rather then on NBC tv and didn't once mock them.
I've always liked Huck, and though I should probably follow his example, I can't help but rip these newly minted poker millionaires a bit. I'm probably just jealous. Still, I felt like Johnny and Doyle looked like which was if somebody put our nuts in a meat grinder everytime Durrr spoke. Granted, better man than me, Huck gave them the affirmation they so obviously desired from the old timers. He didn't roll his eyes about the pushup bet or point out they are a bunch of wannabee geeks trying to be something they are not--they are not degnerates, they are prodigies. Just because you play poker you don't have to be Eric Lindgren or Huck Seed and try prop bets, and if you have to make it a legtimate prop bet not 1000 pushups in a month. Train and do a 1000 pushups in a day... if you can get time away from your computer.
It's such a screwed up poker world, Devilfish Ulliot is dressing like he's a 24 year old baller in Ed Hardy T-Shirts (that fad was killed 8 months ago, but the Devilfish in a skintight shirt had to be it's deathnell unless of course your are Tiffany Michelle who is oblivious to everything) and all the young up and comers are trying to be the true gamblers. Little do the know the reality is more Eskimo Clark then Doyle Brunson. It's like young from the burbs rock bands that do drugs and drink themselves into oblivion because that's what rockers do. Not because they were at risk to be alchoholics or drug addicts or had the f'd up home lives of say Ozzy Osbourne.
These internet kids don't all have gambling personalities but they think since they play poker they should. No, what they should do is model themselves off the successful geeks like Eric Seidel, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch and Howard Lederer who may not be as cool as say Phil Ivy but neither are those kids. Nothing is less "cool" then desperately trying to be something you are not.
Am I being too hard on a couple of 14 year olds who just hope to grow some facial hair and be accepted and belong to a bigger culture and fraternity. Yes, I am. Tom Dwan and the nameless kid are a 100 to a 1000 times better poker players than I am, then I probably will ever be, and I respect their courage (Durr standing up to Hellmuth) and their games immensely. However, if they are to become the new faces of poker we are in trouble. The allure of the game is not about some wannabe internet geeks it's about rougish streetsmart gamblers. It's not about awkard scandi kids, it's about Sammy Farha and his unlit cigarette, Texans in Cowboy hats, Asians with loveable but rakish personalities, and egos that are bigger than life.
Dwan and his peers, when on TV, need to cut down on their desperation to be accepted. Maybe more TV appearences will do that, but I'm also afraid people will stop flocking to poker when Scotty "Win" is replaced by a home-schooled spelling bee champion. You can't train to be cool, but you can temper how "uncool" you are. Suppress it like Chris Ferguson did, kids. He should be your ultimate role model, not frickin' Archie Karas.
Ahh... But there's still hope. There will always be Moneymaker underdogs with deep runs in the massive main events and being that lucky effer who wins 500 coin flips in 7 days right? Instead of playing the smooth Sammy Farha the underdog will by matched up with Gobboboy and we'll have more reason to root for the underdog right? Probably not.
This year, Tiffany "Hot Chips" Michelle was going to be that story. Then she pissed away millions of chips in a matter of hours and finally decimated her stack with AJ (Ace frikkin' Jack?). Oh, she was the pretty face and the female hope for poker. Then she f'd up and took Ultimate Bet's money to wear their logos, despite them being run by the same guys that cheated us all at Absolute, and fully aware that now UB is currently mired in their own cheating scandal. She's covered Poker for Poker News for two years, so it's not like she wasn't properly informed
Then, in a walking embodiment of everything wrong with poker right now, she wore Ed Hardy T-shirts, Jackets, and hats, emblazoned with UB all over it. She made a bad decision and like the guys on Big Poker Sundays I think that justifies her getting some heat. So here it comes, some facts about Tiff and her game. One, she made questionable play after questionable play according to the people that watched her but lived a charm exsistence when timing was just in her favor. Two, she believes she's a great poker player. Three, she believes what she did is great for poker and for women. Four, she is already refering to herself in third person (the Poker Road interview). It takes some superstars in the NBA two or three years to do this, it took her four days. Five, she has that smarmy fake humilty where she tries to say the right things but comes off like the braggart who says, "Despite my incredible achievements and the ease at which I accomplish things I need to remember to stay humble. I'm a humble person."
Newsflash to Tiffany, umm you didn't even make a final table and you only got attention because everybody knew you couldn't play a lick and were getting run over by the cards and you had a somewhat pretty face. Had you closed the deal and maybe won the thing or got to the top three what you did could have been relevant to poker and to women (I guess) but you didn't. You didn't really do anything, so stop thinking you are some sort of female Jackie Robinson, there were plenty female players before you and there are plenty after you and they are all better players then you. Take your money put it in a bank and go back to acting. Parlay your exposure into doing Shannon Elisabeth's job while she's donking off Hollywood money to real poker professionals. Realize the only reason there is attention on you is because you are borderline hot. You are far more Anna Kournikova then Danica Patrick (and she really hasn't done that much either).
Stop kidding yourself that you should start playing big buy in events. Go back to hollywood and parlay those looks into something. If UB buys you in to 10k plus events, on top of giving you cash, so be it, freeroll them, but expect early exits every time. As soon as you made enough of a name for yourself everybody in the tournament realized who you were and that you were raising with air and they bullied you all day. The rest of the tournaments in your lifetime will go about as well as your last day. Ask Jaime Gold.
The cash you won, is split between, you, Tony G, and Lisandro, then you got to pay your taxes and apparently you astutely sold pieces of yourself to other players, so I'm guessing you are not left with all that much. Don't touch that money. Don't count on winning another cent in tournament poker.
Anyway, why is Tiffany Michelle unchecked ego bad for poker's future? She shows how the new Chris Moneymakers can go through that immediate fame in not months but mere days. Anybody remember the year after Moneymaker, some Maxim Magazine secretary went deep in a tournament and got some ESPN coverage? Yeah, it's real fuzzy isn't it. Anyway, Tiffany ask that girl where she is now. When Moneymaker did it, he retained some humility. And didn't have a 1000 people telling him how great he was and trying to each get a piece of him. Maybe that's why he won it and didn't donk out in 17th.
That guy through his ups and downs stayed true to who he was, Tiffany has already lost herself. Moneymaker didn't start proclaiming he'd dominate the world, but unlike him, now every wannabe with a ticket to the main event thinks he's some great undiscovered poker diamond in the rough. Tiffany Michelle knew she was great she just needed her chance, she's said. How can you root for people like that. They are oblivious. They are decked out in Ed Hardy gear.
I don't know what kind of person she was before hand, but I've read between the lines enough in some of the blogs by people that know her, to see that think this girl has drastically changed in a matter of days. You can almost read their anticipation of a tragic tale is about to unfold. She believes all the temporary hype and honestly thinks she's a great poker player. Even a pro like Mike Matasow thinks you are lucky if you get may be one chance to go deep in a main event (and counts his blessings for his luck to go deep so often recently) yet, Tiffany Michelle is telling Seebok and friends how to play a Main Event already. Yeah, I know how to get deep, just get your cards for seven days.
As Gene D says to me all the time, "Well, we'll just see how he handles it when the cards don't run over him," when we see a buddy get a little too full on themselves after a good run (WE ARE ALL GUILTY OF THAT). Well, Tiff how will you handle it? My prediction is in two years we'll never hear from her again in the poker world unless she's hosting a show.
So that's the future, we'll have final tables of 21 year old social invalids playing against luck box amateurs who ignore every cautionary tale before them, drenched in garish Ed Hardy shirts and wearing the logos of online sites that steal from their customers to look forward to. Yeah, it's hard to root for idiots like that. So if you can't root for the big guns or the underdogs you probably... just don't watch. That my friends is the future of poker. I'll get to the other two horses of the apocalypse when I get time.