Thursday, February 16, 2006

Serenity and Cardrooms

Last night brought a most pleasant surprise in the form of a horribly marketed movie. For once, I’m not speaking in a negative light about an over-hyped piece of cinematic tripe that, when the end finally and mercifully comes, finds you in the shower trying to wash off that “fresh rape” scent, ala---(I was going to try and cite a specific movie, but just insert any movie title in recent memory, that should do just fine.)


The ads for this movie when it ran in theaters were nowhere even close to what the movie actually was; they were horrifically cheesy and made the movie look terrible. Take that marketing team and throw them in the Gulag. If there exists even a small part of your being that enjoys sci-fi, you owe it to yourself (and the folks who actually had the temerity to make a decent flick) to go grab it and watch at your earliest possible convenience. Hell, even if you don’t like sci-fi it’s worth the watch. Rachel, who normally begins searching for tools that facilitate timely wrist-slashing whenever my Alien or Matrix box-sets are in view, enjoyed the flick. Not-too-Cheesy CGI, a good multi-layer story and plot that left few to no loose ends, and an ending that didn’t make me want to douse myself in gasoline and run into a burning building. I’ll even go a step further and say that this is a movie where I would enjoy hearing news of a sequel. Alas, it was a good movie though, which means my wish will likely never come true.

Instead, I can look forward to such hits as Big Momma’s House III, IV, V, and VI, Elektra vs. Daredevil, and GW: How I found God at the end of a line of coke and saved all the children. I hear tell that one is a harrowing documentary of passion, power, payola, and heroism in the face of monumental illiteracy.


Felicia asks the question—What will poker rooms be like in 10 years or so? Since this question involves my favorite activity, wild speculation, I’ll take a shot.

I think this question hinges on just how much Harrah’s and their ilk can dominate the casino world, which is already a considerable amount. They are the ultimate embodiment of all that is corporate, evil, and soulless. Of course, one could make the argument that this holds true for any casino in that it’s their mission to fleece as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time with the highest profit margin. I do think that there are distinctions, however. After winning the bowling tourney in Kingpin, Big Earn is jubilant at the fact that “I’m above the law! I can finally buy my way out of anything!” This is Harrah’s, WPT, etc., where the line of thought is that the coffers are so damn full and the organizations so big and dominant that they can run over anyone and everyone willy-nilly, carving ever more pound heavy loads of flesh from the playing base.

Then there are the Wynn’s of the world, also huge conglomerates, but in my view are somewhat the anti-Harrah’s in that they give some semblance of a damn about the consumer that throws money at them hand over fist, or at least takes the time to provide a convincing illusion that a damn is given. The poker room at the Wynn actually has the thoughtfulness to have comfortable seating, nice tables, fantastic service, good tourney structures with juice that is actually reasonable (considering the alternatives), and more. Few of these things can be found in a Harrah’s run joint, where the rake is as large as the pot, drinks never come, juice on tourneys is higher than Cheech and Chong put together, and few employees give a good goddamn about the people throwing chips around. I swear this is going somewhere.

The cardroom of the future will be a lot like today’s cardroom, only more so.

I’m too lazy to search out a link, but I’m sure that many of you have heard about the computerized Hold’em casino tables, which basically bring online poker to the casino. A bunch of people actually sit together and look at a screen instead of doing it at home on a virtual table. Of course Harrah’s is hot to trot on bringing out these tables. Less dealers to pay, faster game, more money (plus, I’d bet the monumental rake is less noticeable, as well). The cardroom in ten years will be full of these tables, and the prospect makes me awfully sad. If I want to play PC poker I’ll stay at home. The Wynn’s of the world will continue much as they are now, I believe. There will always be that portion of players that will insist on a “real” game replete with the time-tested comforts and amenities of said “real” game. We can already see the bigger players and the bigger money give the finger to the likes of the WPT and their “above the law” hubris. The question then becomes, how much more still will it cost to play in the “real” cardroom when it isn’t ubiquitous anymore?

Good question. Like I said when I started out, I think it all depends on whether the Wynn’s of the world can keep the Harrah’s monsters at bay.