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Poker on the TV: Breaking With the Hammer

From time to time, poker rears its head into realms beyond its usual reach. Kathy Griffin went on a blind date with Michael Matusow on her Bravo show Life on the D-List. Everybody in Baltimore plays poker according to The Wire. Poker's very own "bad boy" Jean-Robert Bellande was even a castaway on Survivor. Hell, poker has even been played by the thespians on The L-Word, and Marge Simpson even has her own account on

This week, we have a proud new addition to the obscure poker references in pop culture, hailing from the AMC twisted dramedy Breaking Bad. But the most important part about this hand was the television premiere of everyone's favorite hand, the hammer.

For those of you who do not know, Breaking Bad is about a high school science teacher who decides to cook meth to earn money for his family and treatments when he discovers he has terminal cancer.

In the poker-centric scene, Bryan Cranston's Walter White is playing a loose game of NLHE in his living room on the coffee table with his wife, handicapped teenage son, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law, Hank Shrader, played expertly by Dean Norris, is also a DEA agent and has no idea that Walter is on his way to becoming the America's Next Top Meth Kingpin.

All players are in the hand when the flop comes down with three hearts. It checks around. The turn is a blank, and it checks around again. The river is an offsuit Ace.

I never expect much when it comes to poker and television shows. In classic TV convenience, after the river, every player except Walt and Hank folded. There was no raise before them. They just folded. I shuddered. When the action go to Walt, he hesitated and then pushed all-in. Hank took his time, trying to determine what to do. Walt, after all, is a seemingly straight-laced guy. His push all-in obviously meant he had the flush, so Hank folded AKo face-up. Walt, to my delight, showed 27s, the Black Hammer! I believe the last line of the scene was, "He had a crazy handful of nothin'."

Obviously, the scene is a metaphor for the fact that Walt is hiding more from Hank than just the Black Hammer. But I'm just glad that poker and the hammer (albeit a suited form) got its due.

And while we are at it, I found some other obscure TV-poker connections. While watching the Real World/Road Rules Challenge with wifey Kim, I began to wonder about past RW/RR favorite, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin (Real World 10, Return to New York). After appearing on Real World and probably 4 or 5 RW/RR Challenge (not to mention some cheesy TV show along the lines of a battle of the reality TV stars), the Miz appeared on season 4 of WWE's Tough Enough competition, with the winner getting a contract with the WWE. Well, he lost, but I guess his RW notoriety was enough to get him a spot with the WWE, where he now wrestles under their ECW banner and is co-holder of the WWE tag team championship (Note: I have no idea who the other half of the tag team champs is).

So, why am I regaling you with all things Miz. Well, because not too surprisingly, he plays poker too, and has an interesting poker-related post on his blog. Go take a read if you are interested. There isn't anything particularly enlightening, other than the fact that we all go through the same poker routine. Miz starts by writing about how he learned the game from his father's homegame, and then continues on about his experience at Hollywood Park for a celebrity charity tournament. In fact, if you read the thing, other than the mention of celebrities, it could've been written by any of us bloggers.

In other weird news, I got some text messages from Matty Ebs about a new gig he got dealing at an underground poker room that only spreads 2/5 and up. That's higher than I am used to playing, but I am interested in spreading my wings, so I started to ask him about details. That's when I discovered that the poker club was none other than the Salami Club. According to Ebs, its still open and the 2/5 game plays like 1/2 or 5/10 depending on the time of night and the patrons. In other words, it looks like I'll be making my return to the Salami Club in the early evenings, hoping to capitalize on the 1/2-like play. No date for my return is set yet, but I'm setting the over/under at 10 days (I'd take the under).

I also coincidentally got an email from Roose today asking about our next AC trip. We are eying the first weekend in May, but the room rates are crazy. I may just have to get another poker room rate from the Trop to make it worthwhile. What wonderful problems to have.

Poker, poker everywhere, and not a donk to dink.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:29 PM,


At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You come down, we kicka you real bad. It's all in the flop buddy.

At 3:27 PM, Blogger AnguilA said...

Hi Jordan,

I'm going to NYC for my Easter holidays with some friends and if we have the time, maybe we'd like to play in some kind of underground game (maybe Salami Club?). Could you please tell me what are our options (if there are any)?

Thanks in advance!

PS. There's no Chesterfield like the one in Rounders right? ;)


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