NY Times Magazine: The Art of the Bad Beat

by , Mar 7, 2009 | 10:16 am

Virginia Heffernan, a tech writer for the New York Times, has an article about online poker appearing in this Sunday’s The Times Magazine. Heffernan seems to have been hanging around some poker forums and found the self-pity of the “bad beat” story to be worth writing about. (She also refers to 2+2 as a “funny poker site.”)

An excerpt: 

Whether or not poker interests you, the bad-beat story is a form to study; everyone needs to know how to tell one. It’s an especially useful genre during a recession. With its combination of numbers, magic, hunches and statistics, the bad-beat story furnishes a nice range of narrative devices to frame a lament about losing, while making it crystal clear that the loss wasn’t your fault.

The article is much more thorough than it appears at first, going from the start of online poker in the late ’90s to Chris Moneymaker to the recent scandals at Absolute and UltimateBet. It gives the Times Magazine readers a nice overview of online poker, with one big, notable exception — Heffernan never once mentions the UIGEA (or the fallout). The overall tone of the piece is that online poker is a normal, legal activity. 

While there’s no new information for Pokerati readers, it’s a well-written article worth reading just to see how the NY Times is presenting online poker to the masses this week. One more time, here’s the link:

“Flop,” by Virginia Heffernan, The Times Magazine

4 Comments to “NY Times Magazine: The Art of the Bad Beat”

  1. DanM

    I guess fact-checkers were some of the first employees to go at the New York Times? You’d think they’d still have their own Kevin Mathers around to catch errors like PartyPoker instead of PokerStars.

    But in the scheme of things all good to have someone who doesn’t know the difference finding bad beat stories enthralling.

  2. BJ Nemeth

    Wow, that one got by me too. I saw that it said “PartyPoker,” but just assumed for the moment that Moneymaker won his entry through that site before signing with PokerStars. If I stopped to think about it for a moment, I’d have caught myself (I know he qualified through PokerStars), but I just kept on reading.

    Mental note: Don’t apply to the New York Times as a fact checker. Continue diverting all those inquiries to KevMath.

  3. Kevin Mathers

    When I skimmed thru the article the first time, I didn’t notice that error. I also got a kick out of 2+2 being called a “funny site”. Anyways, for those that want to see the thread mentioned, it can be found here.

  4. BJ Nemeth

    Mental note #2: Even Kevin Mathers is human.