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Old 03-15-2002, 06:34 PM
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Default \'Poker Nation\' Versus \'Rounders

Several thoughts prompted by Joseph Epstein's well-written review of Poker Nation in the New Yorker. (link)

According to Epstein, poker pros have "a clairvoyance about an opponent's unrevealed cards which approaches that of the Amazing Kreskin." This recalls the silly scene in Rounders where Damon's character reads cold the hands of his professor's friends. My view is that this bears as much relationship to real poker as a Jackie Chan action sequence does to competitive judo.

Another Epstein excerpt also recalls a scene in Rounders, one with, I believe, far more truth to it: "Worst of all may be the men who eke out a living at the game, never departing the groove of dull probability, doing nothing imaginative, measuring their progress not by a night's profits but by a year's, arriving at the poker table evening after dreary evening as if it were a job at the post office." Truth be told, if I had viewed Rounders before I started playing poker, I would have dismissed the steambath discussion between Damon's young hotshot and Turturro's grinder as a semi-pretentious cliche. But in a way that I don't see so explicitly in other parts of life, this is a very real conflict in the poker world, the power of which I believe is greatly underestimated by the pure technocrats such as Sklansky.
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