The World Series of Poker is under way:
For Tony Figliolo the dream ended at 4.59pm when he was dealt a pair of aces. If the other guy hadn't been holding a straight flush it could all have been so different.
But the car parts salesman from Phoenix, Arizona, thought his opponent was bluffing and bet all his remaining chips on the cards lying face down on the table in front of him. As the dealer swept the pretty little pile of multicoloured discs towards his opponent Mr Figliolo's participation in the biggest card game the world has ever seen was well and truly over.
Tony Figliolo sounds like a guy I'd like to play with. Pocket aces before the flop is a good hand, but when the board puts flushes, straights, and a straight flush in play, it doesn't matter if you think the other guy is bluffing. You still have to have the cards to win.
Most of the players do not seem to consider poker gambling. Instead they see it as a skilful pursuit that is closer to a sport than it is to the chance games, from the roulette wheels to the craps tables and slot machines, that fill most of the Vegas casinos.
"It's not a game of chance," insists Shaun Conning, 34, a human resources manager from Watford, who despite only arriving from the UK on Tuesday managed to drop more than $2,500 in less than 24 hours playing in qualifying tournaments. "I've been playing for eight years and I lost money for the first five and a half.
I wanna play with Shaun Conning, too. Anybody willing to lose money playing cards for five years in a row is a good fellow to sit across a deck from.
There are thousands of things in this world that I just don't get, but here is the latest one: watching other people play cards. Playing cards in and of itself is dull enough, but good lord, watching someone else do it is about as interesting as watching someone read a book. Have we really sunk so low in this country that cards is now a spectator sport?
There's always the smug sense of superiority that comes with knowning everyone's cards.<< Home