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August 21, 2014

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Past Two Winners of WSOP Main Event Not Great for the Game

A few weeks ago I viewed ESPN's telecast of the final table of the World Series of Poker championship event.

Harrah's Entertainment made an incredibly shrewd business decision in 2003 when it acquired the rights to the World Series of Poker, and the company has done a decent job with the event and its recognizable brand.

But after a couple of great final tables in 2004 and 2005, won by lawyer Greg Raymer and Australian chiropractor Joe Hachem, respectively, the WSOP has had a couple of bad years in terms of the players, and play, at the final table .

Last year Hollywood agent Jamie Gold won in a most irritating style, talking nonstop and goading his opponents into mistakes.

Even worse, Gold became embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over his reported failure to live up to an agreement to split his $12 million in winnings, a battle that diminished the champion in the eyes of many people in the poker business.

This year's winner, JERRY YANG, a Laotian-American from California, was way more likable than the obnoxious Gold, but the unassuming therapist found a way to annoy me during his final table triumph.

Yang, it seems, is a devout Christian. Good for him.

But there's something unseemly about a gambler, in the middle of a gambling event, beseeching God for help.

Among Yang's televised remarks at the final table were: "Let people see a miracle "; "Thank you Lord, Thank you God "; "Lord, you know you have a purpose for me "; and "I will glorify your name."

During one particularly tense hand, after all the chips had been pushed into the middle but a couple of cards had yet to be dealt, Yang asked for help.

"Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, let me win this one," he murmured.

Maybe it's me, but it just seems wrong to be asking God to deliver a card.

And maybe I'm the only one, but I'd sure like to see some old-time poker pro win the main event next year.

And I bet Harrah's and ESPN would too.

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