Get It Quietly

Football, bollocks and a bit of poker if you're lucky.

Location: Enfield, London, United Kingdom

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Kill Your Television

Just now I was having a flip through the channels to see if there was any football on at lunchtime. As it happens only Cardiff v Millwall, so not really. I came across Soccer AM which I have occasionally enjoyed in the past so I left it on for five minutes. They're doing the usual schtick when suddenly they announce "And now, it's a big day for her today but here she is, Michelle from Pop Idol". Enter a bloke in a wig and a comedy fat-suit, which falls off, to general hilarity.

If you want to know what TV does to our perceptions of others, here it is. I don't have any time for Pop Idol and the like myself, nonetheless I was quite encouraged to see that someone who doesn't look like a supermodel and was instead relying on her own talent was doing so well. And what does she get ? Two pretty-boy/girl presenters taking the piss in an embarrassing, playground, let's all point at the fat girl manner.

Lovejoy and Chamberlain (the presenters in question) aren't bad as presenters go. Nonetheless, if they weren't fortunate enough to look pretty like they do, I can tell you where they would be. Stacking shelves and doing Hospital Radio at weekends. Worst of all, right next to them on the sofa was Peter Beardsley, one of the most talented and committed footballers of his generation. I remember watching a game where Everton were 3-0 down having had 2 players sent off. Beardsley didn't give up, instead he upped his game and inspired his team-mates. They got it back to 3-2 before Rangers finally finished them off with a late goal. Here's this guy, basically a legend in football and someone for whom I have tremendous respect, a guy whose ability throughout his career usually took second billing to jokes about his appearance. While this performance was going on this morning, Beardsley laughed with everyone else and said nothing. Shame on you Peter.

TV sucks. Almost everyone on it (with the general exception of sportsmen and women) wouldn't be on there if they looked like you or me. It trivialises you, your life and everything it touches. And they have the nerve to call it "reality TV". I was going to watch Soccer Saturday this afternoon in my nice warm front room to check how my bet gets on. But fuck it. I'm going to watch Barnet instead. It's going to be cold and wet ; it's going to cost me £20 ; it's Conference football which is not the greatest ; and I'm going to have to get the bus because I'm not driving on the last Saturday before Xmas thank you. But it's going to be real, honest pros (like Danny Maddix, one of the best) doing their jobs to the best of their ability. And that'll do for me.

Footnote: I did go. It was cold and wet. Super Dan wasn't playing and Barnet lost 2-0. My bet lost. QPR lost. But I still had a good time. There was a particularly saucy female lineswoman running the line which was a new one on me. It's the first time in 15 years of watching football I've heard someone say "do you think that lino's wearing a thong ?". TV for sale. Going cheap ...

Look out ! A criminal !

During a debate about Crime and Punishment on the Mob Forum, Brad, who I have in the past had some sympathy for over the bashing he gets on there, suddenly went off on a wild tangent about how much information about us he would be happy to hand over to the state to protect us from crime. Basically everything by the sound of it.

It was most bizarre. Why do people think like this ? Why do people buy the Daily Mail for instance and believe all that crap ? Fear and paranoia. The media in this country have whipped up an unbelievable amount of hysteria over crime (likewise in the US over terrorism). Politicians are more than happy to go along with it as it allows them to justify outrageous extensions to their power and authority. Listen to me. You are extremely unlikely to be a victim of violent crime at the hands of a stranger. The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by someone known to the victim. Even, especially in fact, murder. You want to be safe ? Never mind locking all your doors and crossing the road when you see someone suspicious looking. Think more carefully about who you shack up with instead. The violations of our civil liberties being practised every day in the name of "fighting evil" are almost unbelievable. It is worse in the US with the "War against Terror" (see Michael Moore's latest book) but it's coming this way too, unless we open our eyes.

Look to the future now

One thing Brad was right about was the technological capability to do all these things (like track everybody at any time). Technology is moving ahead in leaps and bounds, without a single thought as to the implications. This may be a scientific urban myth, however I have heard that when the first atomic test explosion was made, some of the scientists believed that there was a small chance (around 1 in 10,000) that a chain reaction would lead to the atomization of the entire atmosphere. But what the hell, they did it anyway.

There is no doubt that pretty soon you will be able to effectively implant a mobile phone in your head. Instant access to the internet, on-line libraries and such, wired straight into your brain. Marvellous. Just imagine the spam E-mails you get now being pumped straight into your cortex. Not for me thanks. There are all sorts of amazing things we could do though. Unless, of course, we do one of the following first :

- Blow ourselves to kingdom come with nuclear weapons. Pretty clever of us to wire up the whole planet to explode at the push of a button wasn't it ?

- Use up all the oil, causing mass starvation because we will no longer be able to produce enough food. This is actually only a matter of time.

- Create intelligent self-aware supercomputers which decide to destroy us, or enslave us if we're lucky. Bear with me here. This is nowhere near as fantastic as it may seem. To my mind the only truly far-fetched aspect of the Terminator films is that someone's going to travel back in time to save us. Once we get to the stage where computers design the next generation of computers, we basically won't know what the fuck is going on. And when these computers are controlling the nuclear weapons, because if we don't then the Russians/Chinese/Muslims will, game over.

So perhaps it would be best to live our lives to the full while we can. And what the hell, that's not a bad idea anyway is it ? So while everything I say below about playing in the right games and avoiding big tournaments is good advice for anyone trying to make a living from the game, thankfully I'm not. So maybe I will be playing some more festivals. It's a hell of a buzz when you get some chips. We start off broke and we die broke, everything else is fluctuation. Might as well have some fun.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Stay on Home Ground

I made a bit of a mistake this week - for some reason I had been posting a bit more on various forums until I made the singular mistake of saying something that people don't want to hear. Namely that the high proportion of online qualifiers in the Poker Million would mean that the show would not be as exciting or entertaining as for example the WPT.

I stand by what I said, although I have no intention of posting any further on the topic. Dave Colclough made an opposing argument but felt it was necessary to call me "stupid". Fair enough, I'm a big boy, but I lost respect for him because there was no need to be personal. Another poster offered the old schoolyard "well I'll fight you then" by challenging me to outlast him online or something - goodbye. Incidentally this challenge was laid down 2 hours after Dave's post - but 4 days after mine. Which I thought was interesting.

Anyway, both missed my point. No doubt some very good players will qualify on-line and everyone has a chance in a very fast structure, as we saw last time. My point is that many people will qualify on-line through free-rolls and satellites who have never played for anything like that kind of money. If 30 people qualify online I guarantee at least 10 of them will be rabbits in the headlights once £40K is on the table. 10 more will be very, very nervous. Having one player at a table who's out of his depth is one thing - having two or three players, six-handed, is going to remove a lot of the tension and the interest in my book.

Funnily enough the latest WPT episode illustrated this quite nicely. Albeit this was Limit Hold-em, in the final we had 2 pros (both top players) and 4 on-line qualifiers. Of the on-line crew, one wasn't too bad and finished third. One woman I'm sure was thinking of nothing apart from how good her own hand was. One guy didn't play a hand and got anted away. And one kid who fancied himself as the new generation of poker and could see lots of mistakes the professionals were making. He got ironed out in 5 minutes (in Limit Hold-em !). Quite entertaining in its way but, even though these players made it through huge fields on-line and the WPT event itself, it wasn't great poker until Jett and Lederer were heads up. The strength of the WPT is that most weeks there's maybe one player at most who made it through satellites (whether on-line or B+M) and the rest are tough pros who are used to these stakes.

By the way, the money factor didn't apply last time (and won't again) to the snooker players. These guys have played snooker, a game with a wafer-thin margin of error, for huge amounts of money in front of huge audiences for many years. They weren't fazed at all and they were also helped by some poor play from professionals who should have known better (see "New World Poker Champion, 18/7/03 below).

Sure anyone can win the Poker Million. But that's not my point. If Sky are still happy with their audiences when heats 10 and 11 come round I will stand corrected. Until then, we shall see. And if you don't agree, you can call me what you like. Cos there's no right of reply on here :-)

[9/7/04 Note : actually now there is :-)]