Behind the scenes
Sometimes American culture drops a present into our laps that's just so damn good, we not only can't ignore it; somehow it inherently changes who we are and how we live our lives. Chances are, no matter why you're reading this, discovering poker was yours.Unlike all the pros, hustlers, and gamblers who will go to their graves bragging about how they were playing poker long before it was cool, I, like many of you, became obsessed, infatuated, even addicted to the game sometime around 2003. Coincidentally, this is the same year we were all introduced to a new reality show from ESPN unlike any before it: the World Series of Poker. And while seeing the game on ESPN was familiar, the characters, the commentary and the backdrop -- as well as the tales of riches and woes and highs and lows -- was anything but. Granted, grainy productions of old tournaments that hardly featured anyone under 40 years old had peppered the network's late-night time slots for years before 2003. But watching that 2003 broadcast, it was clear that those days were long gone. Hole-card cams? Player profiles? Commentators who kept us awake and laughing?