Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Someone 'splain it to me

Hachem wins endurance test -- and $7.5 million prize:
LAS VEGAS -- This was the scene shortly after 6 a.m. Saturday inside Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel.

The floor was littered with empties and unconscious humans. A green mountain of cash -- bundles of Benjamins wrapped, 50 per stack, in rubber bands -- rested on an unused card table while at another three men -- Derrick "Tex" Barch of Dallas, Steve Dannenmann of Baltimore and Joseph Hachem of Melbourne, Australia -- played poker. Inside the room two men in suits toted rifles while in an adjacent room two feather-boa-clad dancers sat on chairs and waited patiently.

Just another night in Vegas, really. Except that the three men were into their 14th consecutive hour of playing Texas Hold 'Em and whoever knocked out the other two stood to win $7.5 million. The longest final table in the history of the World Series of Poker was locked in what seemed to be an interminable struggle for what would be the largest (known) prize in gambling history. Perspective? The grand prize in the main event would be worth more than the purse for the entire field ($7,154,642) at the British Open this weekend.

"That may be the gaudiest thing I've seen my entire life," said tournament director Johnny Grooms, staring at the cash cliff before him.

But by this ungodly hour, it was difficult to summon interest. The media members splayed out on the floor behind a curtain just a few yards away -- the Nap Pack, let's call them -- had already lost the battle with their own eyelids. The dancers, bless them, were killing time with two young journalists in a corner who for hours had been much more intent on sweating them than the final table.
Reading the blow by blow account of the final "action" will put you to sleep too. What puzzles me is whether there is a more boring spectator sport than watching people play poker? The cable channels seem to love it, though. I guess I can understand the folks playing at online gambling casinos or even journeying to the real thing to put money in slot machines, but watching someone else do it? Zzzzzz.