Flaming Bag of Poo took a twelve hour nap with my eyes open.
Like millions of poker fanatics, Flaming Bag of Poo watched ESPN’s second day live coverage for the Final Table at the World Series of Poker Main Event. All twelve hours until almost 6:00am the next morning.
It was far worse than watching both episodes of the now infamous “The Real Housewives of Miami: Bras and Brawls” which I simultaneously watched in between 4-minute comatose stare sessions by the poker players. Bless you, DVR!
Yes, in hindsight, I should have recorded the poker event instead, and watched the two hours of “Real Housewives” (ahem).
Next year, ESPN and the WSOP need to change the rules for the Final Table. Or else they risk losing viewers like me who now plan to DVR the Final Table event instead of watching it live. I still watch the finale live for “Survivor” since I know I’ll prematurely learn the winner through all of CBS’ promotional blitz afterwards. But I can easily enough avoid discovering the Main Event winner before I could eventually watch the whole thing on my DVR. In fact, unless you search for it, you won’t really read about the WSOP Main Event champion on ESPN.com. Heck, I managed to avoid learning about the final nine players all summer and fall until I could watch the three-month delayed results from July on TV.
I set my DirecTV DVR for the three hour program on Night #1. My first big mistake.
Unfortunately, ESPN never told DirecTV that Night #1 would last nearly seven hours. DVR programming couldn’t account for the WSOP Main Event spilling over into four consecutive Sportscenters. I did manage to watch the ninth player get eliminated. But I never saw the drama when the eighth, seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth players were knocked out of the tournament. I tuned into Night #2 with only three players remaining. 24-year old Greg Merson, 26-year old Jesse Sylvia, and 21-year old Jake Balsiger.
The stage was set: $8.53 million up, a bedazzled jewel bracelet, and legendary status among millions of poker fans who exercise and bathe maybe once per week. In total, the Final Table lasted 19 hours over 2 days.
There were several minutes when I would hit fast forward on my remote control, and the players never seemed to move. Or even blink. I’ve seen people have more fun at PhD dissertation defenses than the last nine players at this year’s Main Event Final Table.
Short on drama, theatrics, and compelling characters. Zero trash talking. Zero back-stabbing. Nobody wants to tune in and watch “nice”. Nice is boring.
Even when Merson eventually won the last hand, the champion looked more stunned than excited. Stunned doesn’t play well on TV. Merson seldom showed any emotion when he won a pot, or lost a pot.
Sylvia and his animated cheering section seemed to celebrate his second place finish with much more excitement.
The commentators had to be thankful that the card marathon was finally over so they wouldn’t have to keep repeating the same handful of anecdotes about these three previously relative unknowns.
This wasn’t a baseball game that goes extra innings. This wasn’t an NCAA Football game that goes four overtimes. Like with sex, longer doesn’t already mean better. Especially when nobody is moving from the same spot. Even after twelve hours straight, you get sick of the missionary position.
The longer the live WSOP Final Table goes, the worse it is for the sport. (Yes, only because it is shown on ESPN, I will call poker a “sport”.) Broadcasting the Final Table live over two days actually hurts the success of future poker programming. It was already bad enough that the viewers at home couldn’t see the two hole cards like we could during the edited weekly versions.
ESPN tried its best to make us care about the nine players at the Final Table. But during the 12-hour marathon card session between Merson, Sylvia and Balsiger, we cared much more about the players who failed to make the Final Table of the Main Event, rather than the nine players who actually made it.
Namely, the women.
Oh, Gaelle Bauman and Elisabeth Hille, how we missed your feminine charms!
The WSOP, ESPN, and the “sport” of poker in general needed this year’s last two female poker players—twentysomethings Frenchwoman Gaelle Bauman and Norwegian Elisabeth Hille–to finish better than 10th place and 11th place, respectively. Maxim Magazine should already be lining up with a camera offering a mountain sky high of Euros.
Women are great for professional poker. But especially for professional poker watching! I would rather have watched Gaelle Bauman, Elisabeth Hille, or even the outspoken pro Vanessa Selbst win the Main Event title instead of Merson, Sylvia, and Balsiger.
The WSOP needs to steal a page from other reality shows like “Dancing With The Stars” and “The Real Housewives of Miami”. Bring in more celebrity amateurs to boost the conflicts, the drama, and the ratings. Have some play cards in bikinis and lingerie. Add more alcohol, more face-slapping, and more laughable boob jobs. Start first by paying the $10,000 buy-in for Joanna Krupa.
Why not? It has worked before.
For the 2009 season of “Dancing With The Stars”, ABC recruited magazine cover girl and polish supermodel Joanna Krupa who ultimately finished fourth with DWTS dance partner Derek Hough.
Krupa was the only reason why I tuned in that season. Flaming Bag of Poo is secure enough in his manhood and TV viewing preferences to admit that.
So, now, only because of Krupa, Flaming Bag of Poo also watches the current season of “The Real Housewives of Miami”. Yes, of course, Krupa isn’t actually a housewife. She isn’t even married to her European nightclub owner/boyfriend Romain Zago.
Spoiler alert: none of the women on these shows are actual Carol Brady or June Cleever housewives.
By episode #2, I learned to fast-forward through in order to only watch scenes which include Krupa. On the most recent episodes entitled “Bras and Brawls” (parts I and II), Flaming Bag of Poo saw the head-to-head lingerie party brawl between Joanna Krupa and non-supermodel Adriana De Moura.
The latter woman, a Brazilian, has only the second worst boob job on the show. For once, I’m thankful for blurring editing whenever De Moura’s boob pops out of her lingerie during the brawl. To Krupa’s credit, she is implant free. (But not alcohol-free).
As if “The Real Housewives of Miami” wasn’t outrageous enough, add “Girls Gone Wild” criminal honcho Joe Francis to the mix.
The brawl started when Joe Francis spread stories that he once slept with both Joanna Krupa and her constantly-in-tears-or-else-you-wouldn’t-even-notice-her sister Marta Krupa.
The dominoes fall from there.
Talk about your Girls Gone Wild! Gone now are any fantasies of Flaming Bag of Poo stealing off to Tahiti with this Polish supermodel. In Polish, the phrase “one hot mess” is translates into “Joanna Krupa”. I now know far too much about Krupa than I ever wanted to know. The illusion for me is shattered.
Krupa comes across as volatile, sexless, white European trash. You can’t help feeling sorry for her sensible boyfriend, her low self-esteem sister, and even sleezeball Joe Francis. For this model-actress, joining “The Real Housewives” may have been Krupa’s worst career move ever.
This time, Krupa chose the wrong reality show. Instead of “Dancing With the Stars”, Disney/ABC/ESPN should pay for Joanna Krupa’s $10,000 buy-in for the 2013 World Series of Poker Main Event!!! Deal a couple cards and a couple drinks to Krupa, and then watch her flirt, intimidate, and smile her way to straight to the WSOP Main Event Final Table. If Krupa’s got it, let her flaunt it.
Because when Flaming Bag of Poo is heads-up with a big pocket pair—against Krupa’s set—then Poo is losing his money faster than Poo would lose his money to a Joanna Krupa look-alike at a Vegas strip club.
ESPN and the WSOP need to re-examine what they have. Get from Good to Great.
For next year’s live televised WSOP Main Event Final Table, ESPN needs to adjust the format if they expect Flaming Bag of Poo to watch again. For instance, players should get extra chips for being either the most liked, or the most despised, player at the Final Table.
Additionally, clever trash-talking warrants a further chip bonus. You earn even more chips not only for knocking out a player—but also for making that loser cry on camera.
Next, to keep the finals better suited to live television, ESPN should steal a page from speed-chess by adding a clock for each player’s moves.
Each player starts with the same amount of time to make a move. Once the action is on them, the player’s clock ticks down until he bets, raises, or folds—and then he slaps down the button to stop his clock. Time is deducted from an overall total. When a player loses all his time or all his chips—whichever comes first—then he has lost.
Poker players like Rob Salaburu (from this year’s Final Table) would thrive under this new speed poker format; sometimes, Salaburu’s chips were thrown into the pot before the player in front of him had released his own chips.
Poker players are not pretty people. However, sunglasses should be abolished. Wardrobe should be limited to a single endorsement patch, as players are beginning to resemble NASCAR drivers. And allow Eastern European and Thai masseuses around the Final Table…as long as they are female and under 150 pounds.
Yes, ESPN, poker needs women. More than women need poker.
After all, jeweled bracelets look much better on Polish supermodels than twenty-one year old online poker players.