Azinger folds US Bank Championship for World Series of Poker
Paul Azinger has won over $14 million on the PGA Tour, not including sponsorships or overseas winnings.
So if it takes 20-plus years to make a measly $14 mil, can you blame him for skipping the U.S. Bank Championship for taking a shot at $9 million in one tournament at the recent World Series of Poker in Las Vegas?
The PGA Tour can’t really do much more than slap Azinger on the wrist, but there’s a much bigger issue at stake here.
Poker doesn’t need more celebrities - or in Azinger’s case, niche celebs - making poker more widespread than it already is. When ESPN debuts its 2006 WSOP coverage, Azinger will certainly be highlighted as just another high-profile athlete caught in poker’s “glamour” - the only place where glamour is defined by 11 fat men sitting shoulder-to-shoulder at a table staring at each other through funny sunglasses indoors. Sometime over the last couple years, poker somehow morphed from gambling and illegal in many parts of the U.S. - to a legitimate “sport".
Online poker has grown into a disease that’s spreading through college dorm rooms and even teenagers think they can get rich playing cards today.
It doesn’t help ESPN & the media is marketing these guys as “athletes” giving them spots in beer commercials and other ads. If ESPN - which is owned by family-friendly Disney - has a soul, they’ll stop the barrage of advertising of online gambling websites* and for every hour of ESPN’s glossy WSOP coverage that feature Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth and other fixtures of pop culture, they should show one hour of a downtown Vegas casino, filled with poor drunken slobs angrily walking to a creditor at 5 a.m. because they got “robbed” on their final hand.
There are thousands of young kids playing hours and hours of poker every day from their computers. Any kid in college or recently graduated knows one or is one, and aside from the potential addiction and depression and financial loss that looms, they’re also isolating themselves to an online dreamworld when they should be exposed to more stimulating environments.
Poker may be a “skill", but I’m not yet ready to idolize “Jesus” Ferguson, “Lady Luck” Annie Duke and “Fossilman” Raymer. I like my fat old athletes on the golf course, thank you.
In 1968, Andy Warhol predicted, “in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” That seems to be about right with so much reality TV anyone can find a show to be exploited on; and virtual poker rooms, where millions of dollars are seemingly a few mouse clicks and some good “rivers” away.
It’s a shame kids today don’t know fame and immortality is really just a simple as a bi-weekly Michelle Wie golf blog!
*While online gaming commercials are “illegal", sites like PokerStars.net advertise free “practice games” but its merely a false front – On PokerStars.com, millions of dollars are bet every hour and are sponsored by the same high-profile players.
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