Chris BaldwinThis Week at December 13, 2005

Poker-playing wussies
could not handle golf bets

Guys who sit around a table for hours at a time, trying to intimidate each other with junior high stares, as they wait for their card, have become American TV heroes. Getting a full house is becoming akin to threading a touchdown pass through a crowd of defenders or soaring to finish an alley oop over a 7-footer.

Which just may be the most ridiculous concept since New Coke.

For all these poker "stars" do not hold the guts of your average weekend hacker. They have less skill than the worst golfer ever.

Think about it. Every two-bit, shank-happy duffer in the universe has made a bet on the golf course, actually put his skill up against another man or woman's skill. Even if he's much more likely to rattle golf-course-bordered house windows than the bottom of the cup.

Now that's guts.

Sitting in a comfortable room, getting free drinks brought to you as you fold hand after hand, waiting for chance to shine on you is about as daring as knitting for money. Though far less difficult.

Give me the courage of a middle-aged middle manager with the putting yips playing for a $2 Nassau any day.

Why are you more likely to see Matt Damon in a celebrity poker tournament than a celebrity golf match these days? Because Damon's learned that golf is infinitely more likely to cause you to embarrass yourself. No matter how many comped rounds at Las Vegas celebrity hangout Shadow Creek you get.

Golf's tough. Poker's so embarrassingly easy, they've built modern folklore around it to make it seem less lottery fluky. So you have the MIT nerds who flunked out of school delving into the statistical analysis to justify every turn of the cards. This way they can play by rote rather than actually having to even make a decision while sitting on their butts all night long.

The statistics were against me, nothing I could do, they'll whine to explain away a loss.

Can you imagine a golfer who sliced one into the pond on 17 with the money on the line, trying the same defense? His buddies would dump a bucket of beer - beer he bought - over his head.

This is why poker is destined to always be more hip than golf. Golf takes too much work, requires too much personal accountability to ever be as mainstream sizzling as poker is now. No matter how much this must pain PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and his straw grasping ways.

Real golfers know that poker's something to pass the time in the non-daylight hours of a golf trip, another excuse to drink beer. Poker devotees have never seen daylight hours, spending more time in front of a computer in their underwear than Hugh Hefner's content programmer.

As always, welcomes your comments.

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