Poker legend TJ Cloutier shares tales from the poker trail.
In my last blog I talked about how politics and poker are going hand in hand these days on some of the televised poker programs. This may sound like sour grapes, but 2009 was the first year I was not invited to play in the national heads-up championship. The producers suggested I could be an alternate this year, but I told them that would be an absolute insult to me. Hell, I said, my credentials speak for themselves. I cashed in three out of the first four years of the heads-up series, and yet they continue to invite players to it who have never cashed in the event, and who have slim-to-no credentials.
The way things are going right now, if you're not affiliated with Full Tilt or with Poker Stars, you don't get full consideration in invitational televised programming. And the other big player is the World Poker Tour. Believe me, these three control almost everything in the poker industry these days, except for the World Series of Poker. One online venue won't even allow its signature players to play on Late Night Poker because another site advertises on it. Everything's overly commercial now, certainly a far cry from the way things used to be.
The heads-up championship was supposed to be the national heads-up championship. Some of the celebrities they've invited are very nice people-Brad Garrett, for one-but they're not real poker players, you know. So how can you call an event the "championship of the world" when so many celebs are invited who don't make their living playing poker? To me, the producers have sold out. Naturally Doyle Brunson deserves to be on any poker show in the world, because he's paid his dues. The heads-up folks also brought in his son Todd and Gabe Kaplan and Hoyt Corkins (the Doyle's Room group), and I don't mind that one iota because they've all earned it.
And who else do they invite? One-tournament wonders. I don't care if a player won a large tournament once upon a time-anybody can get lucky and win a big one. Why shouldn't invitations be issued for "a body of work," so to speak, rather than for winning one big-field event?
So now I've let out a blast and a half, haven't I?
Next time I'll let you know how my team of Tom McEvoy, Kathy Liebert and I fared in the Dream Team tournament. Just as a little preview, I went out with pocket aces! But for now, this is TJ letting off some steam from Texas to the world.
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