I'm not a very big gambler. I might bet someone that they won't eat the black crud under my refrigerator, but that doesn't actually mean I have to pay them anything if they do it. I don't even buy scratch-off lottery tickets because, well, I'm not dumb.
Which is why I presumably shouldn't have any interest in watching televised gambling, just like how someone who isn't really a fan of crap and garbage wouldn't have any interest in watching reality shows.
In fact, if I was forced to choose between either donating my feet to a sick child who needs them more than I do or spending twenty minutes watching a corpulent old lady jam a social security check's worth of nickels into a slot machine, I'd be looking forward to all the benefits that come with a life without feet.
Which is why I was surprised as anyone when I became addicted to the televised World Series of Poker on ESPN. Especially since I don't even like poker.
I wouldn't have ever started watching it in the first place except I had the flu last week, thus charging me with the unpleasant task of finding something not entirely terrible to watch on daytime television. It was either the World Series of Poker or Dora the Explorer, and that episode of Dora the Explorer was a rerun.
The main reason why the World Series of Poker, against all logic, is entertaining to watch is because it is heavily edited for time. Imagine it being like a football game in which the only parts that are televised are the plays that are interesting and matter and people care about, except it also lasts several days and the competitors don't need to be in shape because they're playing cards.
Everybody knows those overly- dramatic poker scenes in movies where one character bets his betrothed, his house, his life savings or something like that, and the only way he can beat the bad guy with the curly mustache who wants to win the girlfriend so he can tie her to some train tracks is if the next card is the ace of spades.
There's tense music and several extreme close-ups on the good guy and the bad guy and the girlfriend who had no say in the matter and the dealer and the deck of cards, and then the next card is the ace of spades and everyone is jubilant and they won enough money to save the inner-city youth center and they live happily ever after forever. Or something like that.
The World Series of Poker is similar, except over and over again, and also I imagine people who play poker "professionally" usually don't have girlfriends. The only parts of it that get televised are the ultra-exciting hands where the stakes are high where everything can be won or lost simply by calling a bluff.
Of course, none of the people competing in the World Series of Poker are actually wagering anything that they own and are simply betting chips that represent hypothetical values of money, and even if they don't finish in the top ten, they still get tens of thousands of dollars worth of prize money just because they waited a little longer to lose.
You know what? Now that I think about it, I'm just going to watch episodes of Dora the Explorer that I've already seen before.