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Poker Haters, Mull-Hawks and Whiny Sports Writers

:: snake


“Poker fucking sucks the malformed robotic penis of General Grievous.”

So apparently not everyone is enamored with the game of poker.

Particularly Copenhagen, Denmark-based blogger Snorre, who stated the above in a rant he unleashed on Destroy All Celebrities, a moderately amusing yet generally worth checking out pop culture blog.

Snorre, who's also the artist of the illustration above, went on to say:

“Although people here in Denmark generally follow American pop-culture like a three-legged puppy dog with a bad case of worms, Poker hasn't quite caught on yet. Oh, I'm sure you can find your fair share of idiotic Danes who think it's cool as shit to look serious and play poker, but then again there are also a lot of mother fuckers around here who proudly sport faux-hawks and quasi-mullets.”

They definitely do. When I was in Denmark last summer the faux-hawk, or as I called them Mull-Hawks, were everywhere, along with an entire population of perfectly gorgeous womenMohawk_1 who are forced to date wearers of this funny lil’ do that incorporates the best, or really the worst of the mullet, and topping it with a mohawk (sorta like what's pictured here but think more of a Beckham-do than Clash-style). The trick to the mull-hawk, apparently, is getting the mohawk to stick up just a bit in the front and along its ridge and then flow to the back just right so it blends into a full-on mullet "spray", if you can imagine. Unlike a mohawk the head is not shaved on the sides at all so the 'bizness in the front’ look is somewhat preserved. Remarkable.

Am I really talking about hairstyles?

Moving on . . .

It is true about poker in Denmark. It really hasn’t reached the heights of popularity there as it has in the U.S. or Great Britain, even with Dane Gus Hansen being one of the world’s most recognizable names in poker. I had the chance to talk with Jonas Huttel, a writer covering the WSOP for Copenhagen’s Ekstra Bladet, and he pointed out that Gus is certainly helping to bring poker more into the mainstream and that the game is actually more popular than many may think, with most playing online rather than in the few casinos in Denmark. The presence of two Danes (sans mullhawks, believe it or not) in the final 100 or so at this year’s WSOP is also a sign that the nation of 6 million has some decent players among them. Other than Gus of course.

Moving on . . .

So what’s with the poker hating out there right now? Articles slagging poker are popping up in newspapers across the U.S. quicker than Gus Hansen went out on Day 2 of the WSOP. Apparently much of the ruckus is from sports writers and editors upset with the thought of covering poker as sport.

Here’s a bit of what sports columnist Steve Czaban had to say in his article “Poker: Sport or Psuedo Sport?”

"I can understand the appeal of "Texas hold 'em" - it's the closest thing to being a real sports star any fat, unshaven, out of work guy will ever know. Yes, they will be "famous," at least on the Amoroso level of D-list quasi-reality "celebs." And if they win it all, they can match Samaki Walker's salary for one season. But who can really admire this collection of misfits and shut-ins that resemble the human version of the bar scene in Star Wars? The pseudo stars, the nicknames, the rampant egos, the cocky way players stack their chips with one hand."

I'm not a Stars Wars fan, but after Googling the "General Grievous" Snorre mentioned, I learned he's a villain from one of the Star Wars films, and then Czaban here is dissing poker with a Star Wars reference. What gives? Is poker getting slagged by Star Wars geeks? Chops, thoughts? You know this stuff.

So who does Czaban blame as the evidoer who made poker a sport? Darth Vader? No, he blames ESPN, the Iraq of the Axis of Poker Evil, that also includes the Travel Channel and Bravo!

“I've got a theory and it goes something like this: Poker is a 'sport' because ESPN says it is. Period, end of story. If you want "proof" then look at ESPN's Web site. It is right below soccer and horse racing and right above bass fishing and rodeo."

See? Sport.”

How else do you think slack-jawed teens tearing up their kneecaps on skateboards ever became ESPY Award material? ESPN started showing it.”

Later on, Czaban reveals one reason why he’s so bitter about poker:

“I just don't have the patience for it. For starters, I know that I'll suck, and get gutted like a fish . . . The truth of the matter is that to be good at "hold 'em," you have to practice, and I have no time for that. So my feeling is, why play?

Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Andera asks "Is Poker A Sport?", and answers by also blaming ESPN for the sports/poker connection, going even as far as linking poker with the “sport” of competitive eating.

John Patton, a sports writer for the Gainesville Sun, was a bit more philosophical about it.

“Like contests deemed sports, there are prodigies (among them Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren and the hottest player entering the WSOP, Tuan Le) and legends (Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan). There are names you don't forget (Moneymaker, fresh-out-of-the-OK-Corral-sounding Annie Duke, Mark Twainesque Huck Seed), and personalities you can't (self-proclaimed bad boy Phil Hellmuth, motormouth Mike Matusow, obnoxious taunter Tony G), as well as people known for their generosity, such as Barry Greenstein, who donates most of his earnings to charity. Like many athletes, they work hard at a game they play.”

Joshua Staloch of the Gilroy Dispatch let his view be known in the title of his article “It’s definitely not a sport”.

And it’s not only writers upset with the “sports” coverage of poker, as evident by a few of the “Letters to the Editor” we've seen.

In his article “Is Poker Playing Into The Sports Fold?” that ran in the San Jose Mercury News, Walt Moody doesn’t know if it’s a sport or not, he just knows it’s something big and getting bigger.


Finally, Kelly Fenton of the Arkansas Daily Citizen gets witty about it after attending the Amarillo Slim Poker Camp.

"The final week we learned, through isometric exercises, to regulate our expressions for the all-important bluff. We perfected the eyebrow arch and the much more difficult double eyebrow arch, which strange as it sounds, requires a strong upper back. Thus, we spent hours on the rowing machine.

And this is just a small sampling of what's been said out there.

Our thoughts on this shortly. Yours below.

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» Week in review 07.24.05 from Las Vegas and Poker Blog
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Johnny Y

If golf and NASCAR are sports, then poker is definitely a sport. Sitting your butt down at the WSOP for 16 hours a day is a mental grind. It requires the same focus you need to hit a golf ball, only for 16 straight hours. Tiger Woods is the Phil Ivey of golf.

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