|ESPN.com: Page 2||[Print without images]|
|Joseph Hachem collected big bucks for winning the last WSOP. (Joe Cavaretta/AP Photo)|
Watch a few shows, play online for a few nights, read a book and you're ready for Vegas. Or so they all think. Well, it doesn't work that way. You need to play for a few years, struggling at various casinos as you learn how to read people and work your way up from stud. You can't skip any of these steps, just like you can't jump from high school to the majors. Poker is about experience more than anything else. I have six years of experience, and it's not nearly enough. At the World Series this summer, I'm going to get wiped out. I'm fine with this. Then again, I don't know why I'm complaining. The fish have made it easier to make some money. The only negative? All the poker stories. It's bad enough reading them, even worse overhearing them. At McCarran Airport, some dude on his cellphone was recapping every major hand from the weekend, which is right up there with hearing someone bitch about his fantasy team. Wait, lemme guess, you had a great hand, it looked like you were going to win and then someone caught the winning card on the river? I can't believe it! That never happens! Poker stories are as boring as the game's current crop of stars, few of whom you'd ever idolize unless you were auditioning for a guest spot on "My Name Is Earl." Both of these elements work against poker as a phenomenon. But poker as a game? Poker works. Poker is here to stay. That's why I'm excited about the World Series this summer. I'm even more excited to run into Gabe Kaplan, shake his hand, maybe even apologize for doubting the guy who saved Boom Boom Washington from Brooklyn gangs, beat Nevada State in its own gym and took down Bob Conrad. I should have known better. Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine, and his Sports Guy's World site is updated every day, Monday through Friday. His new book "Now I Can Die In Peace is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.