Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

The Olympic Face of Poker: Vanessa Rousso?

by , Aug 10, 2008 | 5:57 pm

While I can’t keep up with all of the Olympic coverage, I’m doing my damnedest. My TiVo has been working in hyperdrive, recording everything airing on NBC, the USA network, and CNBC, and I’m watching a lot and fast-forwarding (with occasional stops) through everything else. With more than 24 hours of coverage a day, it’s a Herculean task.

One thing I’ve noticed is that PokerStars is putting up a fair amount of commercials during the Olympics, at least here in the Atlanta market. (Can anyone watching the Olympics in other markets confirm that it’s national?) The two commercials I’ve noticed the most are from PokerStars — one with Daniel Negreanu (playing pool & playing poker) and one with Vanessa Rousso (bungee jumping & playing poker). Of the two, I think the Vanessa Rousso one stands out much more — more contrast between bungee jumping and poker compared to Daniel’s billiards commercial, and it also has a taste of those “extreme sports” that the young’uns seem to like.

Regardless of what you think of Vanessa as a poker player, I think this could actually be good for the game of poker. One of the things Barry Greenstein came away with during last year’s Congressional visit (to discuss the legality of online poker) was how impressed the congressmen were with the female players who showed up — Annie Duke and Vanessa Rousso. In their eyes, Vanessa is an attractive young woman with a degree from Duke University, and plenty of opportunities open to her. But she chose to play poker. That challenges their view of poker much more than seeing players like Greenstein or Doyle Brunson.

I highly doubt poker will see a post-Olympic bounce from these commercials, but if PokerStars is targeting an entirely new demographic of sports fans, I think they could do a lot worse than putting Vanessa Rousso out front and center.

More Poker at the Olympics

by , Aug 9, 2008 | 11:27 pm

Brendan Hansen … American swimmer … just got third in his semi-final in the 100m breaststroke. (Really, how amazing is that — to be able to breast-stroke the length of a football field in less than a minute.) Anyhow, apparently he’s been struggling a bit, having posted some disappointing times in some prelims or trials or something failed to qualify for the 200m breast … and the announcer (sorry, haven’t learned who’s doing which sport yet) started speculating that it was a calculated “poker play” — not showing his best cards yet, saving them for the finals? I dunno, the metaphor’s kinda lost on me … but still, poker … olympics. Go NBC!

RE: What Poker can Learn from the Olympics

by , | 9:45 pm

As mentioned below, I’m currently watching Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh dominate the Japanese in women’s beach volleyball (poker-playing b-baller Jason Kidd is also watching the game, albeit from the stands, not on TV — as the NBA players are apparently making a concerted effort to be part of the Olympic experience) and there’s all this talk about the wonders of the Olympics … the whole world coming together, men, women people from all races, religions, and countries … putting their problems aside to engage in spirited competition … Where else, when else, do you see this sort of thing, an announcer asks …

And though I think he meant it as a rhetorical question … I’ve actually got an answer: in an online poker room. Except instead of every four years, it’s pretty much constant.

How Many Olympians Have Played in the WSOP? (Six and counting …)

by , | 12:52 pm

In comparing the Olympics to the World Series of Poker, I didn’t plan to write about this, but Justin Shronk asks: “Have any Olympians ever played in the WSOP?” I stayed awake about an hour last night doing some research (discovering three Olympian/WSOP competitors), and did some follow-up research today after Kevin Mathers added Charles Barkley to the list.

I now have a list of six Olympian/WSOP competitors, but I don’t think I’ve found them all. So I’m asking for your help.

QUALIFYING CRITERIA: I’m restricting the WSOP to bracelet events only; charity events don’t count (like the media event or Ante Up For Africa), but restricted bracelet events do count (ladies, seniors, casino employees). We’ll also include the WSOP Europe. For the Olympians, they had to actually compete in a medal event (no alternates, and no exhibition events). Preliminary rounds (like swimming or track prelims) do count. The Winter Olympics also qualify, but I have yet to find any winter athletes who have played in the WSOP.

In alphabetical order, the following six players have competed in both the Olympics and the World Series of Poker:

Charles Barkley
1992 Olympics (Barcelona) – Gold Medal in Basketball (USA)
1996 Olympics (Atlanta) – Gold Medal in Basketball (USA)
2006 WSOP Main Event

Tomas Brolin
1992 Olympics (Barcelona) – Football/Soccer (Sweden)
2007 WSOP Main Event

Jeff Fenech
1984 Olympics (Los Angeles) – Boxing (Australia)
2008 WSOP Main Event

Yevgeny Kafelnikov
2000 Olympics (Sydney) – Gold Medal in Tennis (Russia)
2005 WSOP – $1,500 Seven Card Stud (9th: $10,745)
2005 WSOP – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout (14th: $7,535)
2005 WSOP – $2,500 No-Limit Hold’em (76th: $3,645)

Lennox Lewis
1984 Olympics (Los Angeles) – Boxing (Canada)
2006-2007 WSOP Main Event

Antonio Tarver
1996 Olympics (Atlanta) – Bronze Medal in Boxing (USA)
2006-2007 WSOP Main Event

If you have any information on other potential Olympian/WSOP competitors, please list them in the comments. I’ll add all confirmed entries to this post.


What Poker Can Learn From the Olympics

by , Aug 8, 2008 | 8:36 pm

In case your Friday night included something more interesting than watching TV (mine didn’t), I’m here to tell you that the summer Olympics “started” with the Opening Ceremonies tonight. Actually, the ceremonies took place about half a day ago in Beijing, but NBC is presenting them in a “plausibly live” format during prime time. Hmmm … where have I heard that term (“plausibly live”) before? 

For 17 days, the Olympics will dominate NBC’s networks here in the United States, and fill up enough news coverage to finally give Americans a break from the seemingly endless presidential election. (Other countries are fortunate in the fact that they generally get less nationalistic — and often more interesting — coverage than NBC provides here in the U.S.)

During that time, I’ll be writing about some things the poker industry can learn from the Olympics. Not the game itself, or the silly notion that poker should be added to the Olympics. I’m mainly concerned with the media coverage, and what we as poker reporters can learn from it.