Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

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    Wednesday, January 28, 2004

    Thespian, Smethpian

    During last night's WPT Celebrity Challenge they had the usual player interviews and Aiesha Taylor said something along the lines of "Poker is all about acting". Or she said something like "Being an actor is an advantage at the poker table". I could re-watch the episode to get the exact quote but I'm tired and lazy. The point Taylor made is one that was brought up over and over again during Bravo's Celebrity show--because I'm an actor, I have an advantage playing poker, because I know how to "act". I can fool you because I'm trained to make believe I'm someone I'm not.

    To this I say, bullshit. If acting skill was so important in poker then Helen Mirren would've won the World Series of Poker. If great poker players were naturally great actors then Stu Unger would be getting the Thalberg award at this year's Oscars. The mistake Taylor and David Schwimmer and Willie Garson all made is a common one among actors--they think that acting, and especially THEIR acting, is the Center Of The Universe, instead of a way to mildly amuse we common folk who prefer scrubbing the toilet only slightly less than watching network TV.

    You hear this all the time. Poker is like acting. Politics is like acting. Journalism is like acting. Pretty soon you'll see Tom Cruise on "The Actor's Studio" declaiming that quantum physics is like acting, nanotechnology is like acting, mitochondrial cloning is like acting.

    I can't comment on the latter three disciplines, but I can say that acting skill is NOT a prerequisite to good poker play. First of all, let's look what actors do. They take on the persona of a character and take part in some kind of narrative. They engage an audience. They train their faces, their bodies, and their minds to convey emotion, action, information.

    Contrast this with the poker player. Contrast this with the phrase "poker face", for cryin' out loud. The poker player wants his body, his voice, and his eyes to convey NO information. None. Or he wants the information he broadcasts to be the exact opposite of what he's feeling. He wants to appear strong when weak, weak when strong. Failing that, he wants his opponent to get no read whatsover, to deny his opponent even the body's involuntary clues--dilated pupils, a throbbing pulse in the neck.

    Poker players wear sunglasses to hide their faces, not to look cool. Tell a bigtime Hollywood star that she has to disguise her face and you're going to have a thermonuclear incident in your schmoozing room, unless you can promise your star (say, Nicole Kidman in "The Hours", or Charlize Theron in "Monster") that she's guaranteed an Oscar nomination and the kind of adulation and fame usually reserved for a triumphing Roman general.

    So if you want to improve your game I think studying Sklansky is a much better bet than Stanislavsky. Tho, think about it, what would you rather see--Al Pacino playing in the World Series of Poker, or Phil Hellmuth playing Hamlet? Robert De Niro shuffling chips, or Annie Duke as Lady Macbeth? get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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