Think back on every Christmas story you’ve ever read, seen, or heard, and you’ll probably imagine Santa Claus as a jolly old fat man. The truth of the matter is that he’s been on the job for so long that he’s become bored with people’s wishes. They’re all so ordinary! Nobody ever reaches for the stars when they’re making wishes anymore. So in the spirit of cheering Santa up, here’s a poker wish list that would take some real Christmas magic to turn into reality.
Perhaps nobody knows exactly where Badugi comes from, but there’s no doubt that the game is a lot of fun to play. How the WSOP hasn’t jumped on it yet, I don’t know – the game has tons of action and is a fixture in high-roller mixed games. When you’re giving away upwards of 70 gold bracelets a year there’s no argument to be made for maintaining purity of the brand by excluding exotic variants. Besides, the entire history of the WSOP has been one of expansion, including the introduction of new games. It’s about time somebody became the world’s Badugi champion.
Get Glass into Macau
Google Glass is a pretty cool invention but anybody wearing it sticks out like Geordi LaForge, which means there’s no chance of ever getting it into the myth-shrouded Macau cash games. So this wish calls for Google to improve Glass to the point where nobody can tell you’re wearing it – and then give it to a player whose bankroll can buy a seat at the table in Macau. (Why would a player in these games agree to wear it? Well, that’s part of the wish, too.)
For all the talk about poker in Macau, the fact is that we know very little about what actually goes on at the tables there. With this wish we’d finally get an idea of who some of these well-funded opponents are and exactly how they play. We’d see how the western pros handle themselves when the stakes are at their highest – and how long they stay there before they either go busto or overfish the waters. And we’d be able to verify the many tall tales about the games from online forums. Perhaps pulling the curtain would rob Macau of its magic. Or maybe it would live up to every bit of hype we’ve ever heard. Either way it would be much more interesting than talking about whatever $10K tournament is running that week.
The high roller to end all high rollers
High roller poker tournaments have become a thing now and their buy-ins have inflated accordingly. With entry fees ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 – and of course the $1,111,111 Big One for One Drop – these guys just aren’t playing the same game everyone else. So why not use one of our wishes to create an event worthy of the difference?
This event – let’s call it the Uber High Roller – would feature the top 25 money winners of all time excluding buy-ins of less than $25,000. The buy-in would be the winningest player’s entire bankroll plus $10 million, guaranteeing that everyone would need additional backing and therefore face maximum pressure on every decision. It would play out in an “ironman” format, stopping only for administrative breaks until there was a winner. And that winner would lay claim to the entire prize pool. The losers wouldn’t walk away empty-handed, though: each would be given a chance to begin rebuilding their bankrolls with a $200 buy-in at the $1/$2 no-limit hold’em table of their choice.
An interesting champion
Back when the poker boom first began, the world didn’t catch on because of the game itself. Televised poker is essentially a reality show, and like any reality show, the cast of characters is what keeps people coming back. The old-timers who earned their bankrolls and nicknames in back rooms throughout the Southwest, the young stars who made their way to Vegas in the late 1990s to prove themselves, and the savvy players in between who did everything they could to maintain face time even when they weren’t winning – they made TV poker something worth watching.
But the longer poker stuck around, the less interesting it was on TV – at least partially because lots of those colorful characters had moved off the stage, replaced by a flood of interchangeable young white Americans with the life experience of a fruit fly. It’s not that poker isn’t interesting in and of itself, just that television magnifies personalities above whatever else is going on. And when those personalities are devoid of charm, so is the end product.
With that in mind, we could use a world champion worth talking about next year. For starters, somebody who’s already graduated from college (or maybe never went in the first place). Someone who is at ease in front of a camera, who can talk about more than poker, but who lives for the game when he (or she) is at the table. And most importantly, somebody with some gamble. It doesn’t really matter who it is, in truth, but wishes work best when they’re specific so I’ll commit to a name: Norm MacDonald. The comedian and former host of both Weekend Update and High Stakes Poker anchor plays often in both L.A. and Vegas, and he’s made deep runs in WSOP events before. Plus he has as much media experience as basically all the previous champions put together. A win by him in the WSOP Main Event would make poker on TV entertaining again.