Sweaty, Bright, Sweaty Red Laughter

laughter with vertucci persuadeo.nl

In social dancing, we happily learn that the eye of the observer is drawn to the elegance of the best dancers on the floor, an effect that hides learners from the worst embarrassment, so helping to more smoothly create the scene. It’s much the same in poker streams: we are not even aware of all the bumbling being done out there until they are more ready for prime time.

In fact, one of my regrets in poker is that I was made aware something was funny with Postle far earlier than the scandal broke. One of my students played in the pool and had some interesting things to say about him. Please watch this guy, he kept telling me. However, one simply could not watch the Stones stream, not for more than a few minutes. Literally everything about it, from the design to the camera work to the commentators was so awful that it was impossible to watch and I quickly lost interest in pursuing whatever the issue was with this strange man who could make amazing plays. They killed my interest, regrettably. There weren’t simply better streams to watch, there were watchable streams to watch.

So it is when we are aspiring to be something. We can work on ourselves, our project, and be ready for when attention is ready for us. However, we have another, more gross and market-driven option: to demand attention up front.

This kind of forced attention is the kind the people at the Bally Commerce Live poker stream seem to revel in humiliating themselves with. I know some of them, I like them well enough and want them to succeed. I set aside time and waited to watch the show.

You know what happened. I don’t want to be mean, but they were not ready for the dance, certainly not ready for the spotlight that they asked for, again. They weren’t willing to dance in the corner and work out the kinks. And it is maddening, maddening to be treated like this, to give someone or something so many chances.

Now, everyone knows the big offending items, but did you notice the outrageousness of everything else going on?

  1. When you can’t deliver a product on time, you give an estimated revised start time, and a generous one so you can work on your problem. You don’t just have people wait on you, fifteen minutes at a time. This is what is called politeness, because it acknowledges that other people’s time is valuable. When you just ask them to be patient over and over and just wait, you break the social contract. Now, because we don’t value politeness in society anymore, but defer to something crasser called “professionalism,” we further lose our ability to function in difficult situations or even describe why this is wrong.
  2. The dipsy-pretty hostess was selected terribly, thrown to the wolves, and given no support. She clearly does not understand the game culture and so cannot respect its players. This is really not her fault; this is management not managing. She literally had to babble about “finding competition” on the table to one of them – well, duh. She asked Barry Woods to introduce himself, as if he were a nobody! He took it well, being a man of the world, but you do not come to L.A. and treat a man like Barry Woods like that!
  3. In fact, we saw how the selection of the host/hostess/interlocutor/commentary people is just so important. This woman was too young, too delicate. Her girlish legs did not belong next to these weathered degens the way the hostesses of PAD belonged, lascivious and pleasing and broken in by society and by their own vulgarity. Now, I’m sorry if you are too dense to see this, for this is a bit of an adult conversation moment, but we are all human and that slight awkwardness you felt watching what was going on is being explained to you. Smile, sweetheart. Keep trying. She couldn’t do it, unable to separate this event from what they told her at the modelling agency.
  4. Continuing, the commentary team (and poor try-hard, never-say-die Wayne) have no voices. They have no charisma. No one wants to hear them talk. We can, in a second, enjoy the garrulous confidence of David Tuchman, the cracking late-nite California gambler in DGAF, the modesty and clarity of Charlie Wilmoth, the vacillating cool of Nick Schulman, or even the disarming lightness of Ali Nejad. We hear nothing on Bally’s but the mumbling of voices made for county council comment periods and city hall parking ticket disputes, voices that feel the need to garble over the players, misuse their strategic expertise, and tell us who is betting.
  5. And what do we hear when they did shut up at last? The chips are louder than the players. The camera is on the wrong player. Yes, the star’s name is misspelled – is that not the least of it, though, the most fixable part? How do we get the basics wrong, every time, time after time? Ryan Feldman directs the show at HCL and demands ultimate control over many things – that is a superpower you need to have to compete now. Berkey is wrong when he says the stream process is just “plug and play.” The “trustless” system may be working on the hole card end, but the bigger system has to function in other ways, too. Caress the details, as Nabokov said, the divine details. Making Nick Vertucci look good – a man who somehow runs a podcast while never having removed either of his feet from his mouth – is an amazing accomplishment.
  6. Now, you may not know much about design and architecture and human behavior, but you are allowed to research it. The set of the Commerce Stream is awfully nice – but not for a poker stream or room. The deep colors are comfortable and depressing and mood stabilizing. There is a reason a bar is dark and the dim sum hall is bright. By going for the deep-leather-cum-tech-cave mood, we bring a quietness to the affair that should not be there. Steve Wynn is a genius and knows what I am talking about, even if these poor sods just won’t get it, three times now.

I could go on, but it just gets worse and needlessly mean and I want to move onto the deeper matter, the humor at the bottom of it all. My observations, while as true as any, are not important. The audience decides instinctively how it all shakes out. They give a thumbs up or down to the Emperor.

The problem for Bally’s is not that I was disappointed, or the audience was disappointed, it is that the failure is so advanced that the whole thing is now just funny. It’s laughable. It’s not a tragedy, not anymore. I mean, it can’t be because it’s just poker, but it’s still a thing. A thing they just can’t do right. They don’t talk to the right people and they are not the right people and they don’t know the right people.

No one there can figure any of this out. It’s just laugh out loud funny, this sort of repeat incompetence.

And so, someone is indeed laughing. Someone we all know too well.

Yes, somewhere in sweaty bright L.A., on a veranda or at a desk or at a poker table where the sullen host doesn’t want him, Nick Vertucci is laughing. Nick Vertucci is laughing and laughing. Laughing in a cloud of cigar pollution, that big red gin nose getting redder and that glistening fur glistening all the more, double glistening, glistening oil black in a happy, laughing sweaty helium roar.

It’s a great laughter, because this stuff is just funny now.

(Ok, I feel better. Keep trying)

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