Wednesday, August 20, 2008
WSOP Event 20 on ESPN
Last night I planned on only watching the first half of Tuesday night poker on ESPN in hopes of getting a little work done before going to bed, but after the first hour of $50k HORSE dramatics I was drawn in like a... like a... like a something, I don't freaking know... I just kept watching.
For the most part it just looked plain awkward, particularly with the three remaining players. The newcomer to the table, though certainly a player that has proved to be a tournament threat, Michael DeMichele (pronounced Deemikelly... I think), got things started with a little showboating for his friends... an honest newcomer mistake when at a table ripe with seasoned pros, and certainly nothing we've never seen on televised poker before. Erick Lindgren was a true class act as always, and handled the situation in a polite manner by taking a light jab at DeMichele and implying that he should cool it a bit, but all in good fun.
By the time Scotty Nguyen flew off the handle at DeMichele after losing a good-sized pot, it was pretty clear that the kid had gotten the message and was by no means acting inappropriate... though you can never tell with all the ESPN editing that goes on. DeMichele defended himself and even alled Scotty out on being hypocritical and a poor ambassador of the game. A "socially lubricated" Scotty continued to drink, showboat, drops F-bombs, play sloppy, and ridicule DeMichele up until he knocked him out, after which they awkwardly shook hands and pretended to be good sports.
I gotta hand it to Lindgren for staying classy throughout the game, and to Norman Chad as well for pretty much being spot on with the play-by-play poker drama. DeMichele had been a little out of line earlier on, but Scotty, the veteran player that should know better, really stepped over the line in attacking DeMichele, who had every right to fight back.
I think my favorite part of the whole mess though was the equally un-classy Layne Flack and his drunken shenanigans from the rail, followed by Chad's golden comment:
Flack: "Nut-nut, baaaaaaaaby!" (stumbling around and slurring his words)
Norman Chad: "That's a bit unfortunate."
Of course the sad truth of this whole mess was that the whole night was laid out to pay homage to legendary player Chip Reese, who recently passed away. The $50k HORSE tournament could arguably be the toughest of WSOP tournaments, with a field full of pros, and the winner often clearly being a player of far-reaching skills and discipline. Scotty Nguyen may be a solid poker player, but he by no means exhibited the table traits that make men such as Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson true icons of the game.