(This column was written
By Shelly Saltman
I know it isn't a sport, but it certainly is a game that for centuries thousands of people through out the world have played. It's called poker. It's a game where fortunes have been made or lost, where people have enjoyed ultimate highs and the depths of despair. On occasion, poker has even been the cause of wars.
In 1978, my pals and associates, Matt Helreich and Sid Silver, when I was president of
I was fortunate to sell a one-time-only program from Harrah's in
You know, when my pal Clair Higgins invented the TV mobile unit, I thought it was one of the greatest innovations of all time. Imagine today we get feeds from all over the world and it is a sophisticated art form. Clair started it all. When he first did it, he used an old school bus to follow then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy up and down the
Let me tell you about technical advances not in the class of social networking and the like, but nevertheless quantum steps anyway.
Two Christmas's ago, I was at Clair's house. Clair was busy running around taking pictures with a palm-size Sony Camera. He took me into his den where a framed picture of the old bus is on the wall. With pride, respect and awe, he pointed to the camera in his hand and said "Shelly see that bus. Everything we put in there then , is in the palm of my hand today"... WOW!
I was truly amazed when my associate Tony Verna first put an extra tape machine in the mobile unit to use during the Army-Navy game of
All I was lucky to sell to TV at that time was the single poker tournament with Amarillo Slim. To be there, as I said, was exciting. However, to watch the tournament on TV at that time, was as exciting as watching grass grow. Which certainly is not exciting, unless you are a gardener. A decade later, an enterprising ESPN technician came up with the idea of putting one secretive camera under the poker table. This was done by placing a window in the table at each position where there was a player in the game. The camera focused on what the player was holding in his hand. This was transmitted from within the player's grasp to the control gooth.
Video and audio techs would see everything, but selectively only feed various viewpoints to the announcer and the viewing audience. Such feeds are blacked out from the view of the competitors. Thus the audience could see simultaneously what each player's hand looked like and literally be part of the player's thought process as he/ she placed their various bets.
In other words, the viewer could now play along with the competitor. As a result, televised poker has become one of the most watched programs in the world. With a multitude of different poker tournaments being telecast programs on various channels sometimes simultaneously. The telecasting has brought a new breed of fans anxious to learn about the game. Part of the learning curve is the lexicon or the attendant vocabulary that is significant to poker.
So I decided to look into what various descriptive phrases used by the commentators meant. Here goes:
The phrase "All in" means betting all your chips. "Trips" means three of a kind. "Down to the felt" means that a player is so broke that all he can see in front of him is the green felt of the poker table. When you hear "underdog" that means someone has a weak hand and is likely to lose. "Tapioca, or
If ever you hear "rag" that means someone has an up facing card so low in value it cannot affect the outcome of the game. Should you want to force competitors out of playing a hand you "buy the pot" which is a bet so large that other players must fold.
We have all heard of Charlie Sheen and his "Tiger Blood". Well in poker, the phrase "alligator blood" is a player who keeps his cool under pressure. When we hear "he's catching cards", someone's on a winning streak. How about the term "wheel"? That's the best hand in lowball poker -- 6,4,3,2,A. If you ever traveled on a train and played cards which a great many people still do, this gave birth to the term "railroad bible": simply, a deck of cards.
There sometimes are three very different players in one game..." the fish," he's only in the game so he can be beaten out of his money ... "George" is another name that gamblers call a fish... and a "rounder." He's a guy who makes his living parting "fishes and georges" from their money.
It's poor form to "splash the pot" where you just toss your chips into the pot, without placing them there... in such a way, the players can't actually see how much is your bet. There are a slew of other names. Let's look at just a few:
"Rake": the house's share; "cowboys": kings; "ladies": queens; "paint": a face card; a "rock": a conservative player who takes no chances; "base deal": dealing from the bottom of the deck; "in the hole": cars dealt facedown so only the recipient can see them; "bullets": a pair of aces; big slick: a king and an ace in the hole and finally a boat is a full house.
Now that I have shared all these phrases with you, please don't ask me to play in your Monday night game. You see, I am a "fish."