Poker first appeared in the United States in the 1820s, brought to New Orleans by French immigrants who called the game poque. It traveled up the Mississippi River and spread throughout the country, soon becoming an underground national pastime, baseball for the unathletic. As the century turned, Situs Judi QQOnline Terpercayapoker maintained its popularity, but lost its phenomenon status. Though television shows like “Maverick” in 1957 and the 1971 mini-series “The Gambler” later mythologized the poker players of the good old days — the dandified 1840s gambler, kind to women and merciless to cheaters — no one looked for glory or drama in modern poker anymore. To callow youth like me, the game looked like just another thing that Babbitty men did, like the Rotary club, or golf. People’s dads played poker.
And then we started playing poker, too. Like everything else with my generation, technological innovation helped enable our new hobby. By the late ’90s and early 2000s, dozens of online casinos had sprung up, allowing the Internet to tap its full potential as a 24-hour gaming paradise. Free from the annoying sanctions of the U.S. Penal Code, these offshore virtual Monte Carlos offered interested parties the opportunity to wager ’round the clock. Especially popular were online poker rooms, where you could play — for money, real or fake — against all comers. For many would-be players, the fear of looking like confused novices in front of a room full of old hands used to keep them from the tables. Now, the online poker rooms provide a convenient place to learn and refine the game at home with no one watching. More recent arrivals are the poker blogs shilling for their favorite sites, swooning over their favorite pros, and telling their stories about the hands that got away.
Televised poker is also a lot better than it used to be. For too long, TV executives were unsure how to treat their poker coverage, cramming it into late-night time slots on cable sports networks. This was odd, as poker belongs in the same Situs Judi QQOnline Terpercayadubious semi-sport category as eating contests or spelling bees. Not only did it require no physical prowess, but due to prolonged exposure to tobacco, free drinks and fluorescent lights, many of the game’s finest players appear to be chronic palpitators and arrythmiacs. Little wonder that it never got good ratings on ESPN or the “Wide World of Sports.”
But with the Travel Channel, formerly the repository of such stinkers as “Busch Gardens Revealed” and “Incredible Vacation Videos,” poker met its perfect match. The station has been the prime propagator and beneficiary of the poker craze with its “World Poker Tour” viewing block, which sends viewers casino-hopping around the world to a new poker tournament each week, open to all comers for a modest entrance fee. In its breathless approximation of legitimate sports coverage, the production is hilariously WWFesque in a way that appeals perfectly to ironic 20-somethings: lots of gaudy money shots, a blonde “sideline reporter” who conducts exit interviews with ousted players, and “expert”Situs Judi QQOnline Terpercayaannouncers coming off as campy parodies of real sportscasters, with their nicknaming and jargonese. Well-placed cameras reveal each player’s hole cards, allowing viewers at home to revel in omniscience even as they attempt to follow the thought processes of the bettors and sharpen their own skills at home.