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A Very Important Announcement

A new World Series event

by John Vorhaus |  Published: Apr 09, 2008

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Twenty years ago, when I was still at the what beats what? stage of my poker evolution, I stumbled across an issue of the earliest incarnation of the magazine you're reading now, and found in it a column by the estimable poker player and scribe Susie Isaacs. So inspired was I by what she wrote that I sat down and started writing about poker myself. You might say that I owe my whole poker writing career to Susie and to that first special column of hers. What was it about? You'll find out at the end of this piece, but I'd ask you not to skip ahead, because we have a very important announcement to get to first.



As some of you know, I wear many hats in the poker community. In my time, I have been a poker spokesman, TV commentator, blogger, consultant; heck, I've even made a final table at the World Series of Poker, which proves the truth about blind squirrels and acorns and snow. Perhaps because of the many hats I wear, or perhaps because I wear them all with such a sense of whimsy, I was the recipient of a very odd anonymous phone call recently from someone working high up in the now privately held Harrah's Entertainment. The caller – let's call him Deep Stack – had some startling news about this year's WSOP. When I asked if I could share his news with you, gentle reader, he replied, "Why do you think I called you, nimrod?" or words to that effect.



OK, here's the deal. As you know, this year's WSOP will run from May 30 to July 17, with upward of 55 tournaments on the slate, not including second-chance, consolation bracelet, and double-coupon discount events. What you may not know – what Deep Stack was beside himself to share with me – is the plan to add yet another event to the schedule, one never before held. Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the WSOSP, the World Series of Strip Poker? You'd better be, because here it comes.



I know what you're thinking: This has to be a joke, right? Strip poker isn't a real poker game, it's a party game – really just an excuse to drink tequila and get nude. I voiced this very observation, but Deep Stack called me a nimrod again, and told me to shut up and listen, so I did.



It seems that the brain trust at Harrah's (and this may or may not include the Players Advisory Council) have given some serious thought to how to turn strip poker into real poker. They determined that the fundamental problem with the game was the variable number and nature of betting units, and the difficulty of assigning relative value to, let's say, a shoe when wagered against a camisole or a cap. Plus, no matter how many undershirts you cleverly layer on, there simply aren't enough betting units to make for interesting poker play.



To solve these problems, the event will be structured as follows: Each player will start the tournament wearing exactly 10 articles of clothing. An article of clothing will be defined as "anything that can be removed," from a prom dress to a toe ring. But the clothes themselves will not be put directly into play. Instead, each player will start with 2,000 in tournament chips, with the standard blinds structure for any WSOP rebuy event. However – and here's the elegant beauty of the plan – anytime a player gets felted and wants to rebuy, he or she will do so not with cash, but with an article of clothing. Everyone who enters the tournament, then, will arrive armed (and legged and torsoed) with 10 potential rebuys, and can expect to face the difficult question of when and how to use them, or indeed whether to use them at all.



I saw at once that this would at last bring real play, and real strategy, to strip poker. Players who are modest, shy, or prone to colds, say, can choose not to take any rebuys and simply walk away from the table when their chips are gone. Looser players – and the word "looser," of course, now takes on a whole new meaning – can rebuy early and often, while their clothes still have real chip value. Players who excel at applying bubble pressure can now apply a whole different type of pressure: forcing others into tough rebuy decisions when each wrong decision brings them closer, ever closer, to baring it all.



Any clothing not removed by rebuy will be blinded off in the tournament's later stages. There will, however, be no official end to the rebuy period, so that even when the blinds are, say, 1,000-2,000, players can still exchange their last article of clothing for one last big blind, and one last shot at WSOP glory.



It was the question of WSOP glory, Deep Stack told me, that got this whole strip poker ball rolling in the first place. Since so many poker players covet WSOP gold, Harrah's has decided to go to new extremes to accommodate them. Moreover, ESPN is totally on board. It plans to broadcast the event on its new digital channel, ESPNX, where you'll also find nude snowboarding and full-contact, cross-gender oil wrestling. It is not known whether Norman Chad and Lon McEachern will provide commentary in the buff, but it is devoutly hoped not.



I asked Deep Stack if he really thought players would sign up for the event. Some, he allowed, would not, such as those who've spent too much time at the poker table and not enough time in the gym. Others, however, would probably see this as an edge, since their foes would have to face the appalling sight of them – every bit of them – in the tournament's latter stages. And, naturally, for the Hollywood narcissists and enthusiastic hard bodies who have flocked to poker in recent years, getting their kit off for a tournament win would not be a disincentive, but a perk.



How about you? Are you ready to play in the inaugural World Series of Strip Poker? It's likely to be the smallest of any WSOP field this year, and therefore your best chance to snag the bling. If you're willing to put your dignity on the line alongside your chips, I say go for it. To paraphrase Karl Marx, you have nothing to lose but your clothes.



Finally, there's this: That column that Susie wrote back in 1988? It was just one of the many excellent April Fools' Day stories she wrote over the years. I always enjoyed hers, and I hope you've enjoyed mine.



John Vorhaus is the author of the Killer Poker book series. He resides in cyberspace at vorza.com, and in the blogosphere at somnifer.typepad.com. John Vorhaus' photo: Gerard Brewer.