Friday, August 15, 2008


I thought I had pretty much taken care of them. Not all of them, by any stretch of the imagination. Just the worst ones: the thistles, tansy and scotch broom, the three noxious weeks that can render a field useless in just a few seasons. Yet, as I water the ducks in the morning, I can look out over the back seven acres and see at least two tansy plants, one scotch broom, and one gnarly, bonzaied thistle not more than 10 feet from me. Oops, there’s another tansy too. Sunday the temperature is supposed to be a bit cooler, so I’ll get out there and take care of them then.

I try to be diligent. The first year we were here, I pulled up hundreds of scotch broom plants before we made hay. I didn’t see any tansy. Animals waste a lot of hay if it has either plant in it, pushing the bad stuff aside with a good portion of the good stuff as well. I am still killing hundreds of scotch broom each year in the same field. The seeds last forever, and when a gopher plows up a mound, seeds get sown. (This winter I will do a gopher hunt.) The tansy is on the rise as well. We had hundreds of these plants this year, whereas last year we may have had 25. I thought I had gotten them all, but it doesn’t help that a tweaker neighbor of ours doesn’t maintain his own fields. We get a lot of wind-blown collateral damage.

Bull Thistle

As one might expect, I would love to force a parallel to poker. I say “force” only because I cannot come up with a suitable transition from the preceding paragraph.

Somehow my dear wife and I got into a discussion about the WSOP Main Event this morning. The crux of it was my outlining the Tiffany Michelle/Ultimate Bet brouhaha, and the ramifications on poker’s popularity. I explained that when TM went deep, a lot of blog discussion centered around how a woman making the final table, or even winning, would have a new Moneymaker effect on the game, hopefully bringing new players to the tables. I went on to give some of the details of the controversy that came up when she accepted the Ultimate Bet sponsorship for air time on ESPN, how Tony G. had staked her as an employee of Poker News, and the superuser cheating that had occurred at both UB and Absolute Poker. I opined that it now, if there is to be a bit of a poker bump, it will depend on how ESPN decides to produce the last two tables of the ME. If TM gets a lot of air time, there may be a slight surge. And who knows, maybe UB will start getting some new players.

Not surprisingly, my dear wife was intrigued, not by a woman going deep, but by the machinations, the gossip and, as the conversation moved on, by my description of last year’s final table culminating with the new champion, Jerry Yang. She was in stitches. As a person with filmic mind, she started riffing a script for a poker movie along the lines of “The Grand.”

Sorry, but poker movies are dead money.

Still, she was wanted to know more. I told her that neither Yang, nor Jamie Gold had any significant sponsorship after their wins. Nor did Robert Varkonyi. Why is that? And why is Moneymaker credited with the poker boom? There is no straight line to an answer, yet I may make a couple observations that may or may not be random and rambling.

Yang and Gold made for amusing TV, Varkonyi may be too geeky-looking (sorry) for TV, and none of them have garnered respect as poker players. I’m not so sure Moneymaker is thought of as a great player either; yet, he comes across as quiet and considered, a prototypical poker player. As such, he fits into the mythos. The others, each for different reasons, are part of the spectacle that poker has become since becoming televised. Poker players understand this. Spectators might as well be watching reality TV, and the fantasy may no longer be enough to create more dead money. The poker industry outside of the television companies that produce poker shows, depends on television to grow. The rest of the industry seems to still expect a caliber of play/demeanor before it can get behind certain players who would represent them. There is a subtle conflict of interests that may be difficult to resolve, and may be sending the wrong signal to prospective players, that there is a cliquish hierarchy in poker.

The blossom on the tulip may indeed be wilted, or worse yet, a squirrel has dug up the bulb and eaten it, and we won’t find this out until the next growing season. The sexy babe adverts in poker magazines don’t appear enough of a draw to build a poker market. Will the poker industry have to resort to marketing more akin to the sensationalism of pro wrestling or non-industry sponsors as in NASCAR? As the industry struggles to attract new players, and create a new cycle of dead money for the dedicated players it depends on for its integrity, it suffers from the circus it creates in the process of promoting itself. However, there is hope. I’ll call it the “Jerry Lewis” factor and leave it at that.

What exactly does this rambling have to do with weeds? If weeds go to seed, you’ve got trouble. I would put to you that the poker industry as it stands is a field with a lot of potential for growth; how it is managed will determine its productivity and sustainability.


Forrest Gump said...

So how would you regard Hellmuth? Weed or tulip? Maybe a malformed tulip that resembles a weed but shouldn't be plucked? :)


bastinptc said...

He would have to be a tulip, if the plants mentioned have to represent people. I should point out that malformation in domestic plants is often caused by herbicidal drift.