Their Ace in the Hole Could Pay Dividends

Times Staff Writer

Poker seems to be holding a hot hand these days.

Fox Sports Net has chosen poker as counter-programming to Thanksgiving Day football on television today.

Beginning at 12:30, the cable network offers six consecutive one-hour shows covering the three-day "Showdown at the Sands" tournament in Atlantic City, N.J., which ended Monday.

NBC has chosen a poker tournament -- the World Poker Tour's "Battle of Champions" -- to televise from 1-3 p.m. opposite CBS' Super Bowl pregame coverage on Feb. 1.

In trying to explain why poker has become such a big TV hit, Steve Limpscomb, the founder of the World Poker Tour, says, "Since the viewer can see the hole cards, he or she is saying, 'Don't do it.' It's like watching a train wreck when you see the wrong decisions being made."


Trivia time: The 1971-72 Lakers own the NBA record for most consecutive games won in a season, 33. What is the record for most consecutive games lost in a season?


Did J.Lo know? Ben Affleck, who has dismissed rumors that he is addicted to gambling, showed up at the poker tournament in Atlantic City, paid the $10,000 buy-in and played 140 hands over the six-hour period the first day.

No, he did not win the $1 million grand prize. But, yes, fiancee Jennifer Lopez knew he was there. In fact, she was with him.


Tight security: If viewers of poker at home can see the hole cards, isn't there a danger competitors could find a way to learn what those cards are too?

Couldn't happen, Limpscomb says. For one thing, the telecasts are never live. For another, the control room is in a secure booth, at least 150 feet away. No headphones or headsets are allowed inside, and a security guard is stationed outside.


Handling Barry: Carlos Watson, who hosts "The Edge" program on CNBC, recently taped an interview with Willie Mays and Barry Bonds that will be shown on today's show at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Bonds described Mays as his coach and "the eyes behind my head." Mays, asked how Bonds reacts to criticism, said, "I don't care."


NFL royalty: Miami Dolphin defensive end Adewale Oguhleye may be one of the most interesting players in the NFL.

Born and reared on Staten Island, N.Y., he comes from Nigerian royalty. His grandfather was the king of a region of 150,000 people around the town of Emure Ekiti. His uncle is now the king and Oguhleye is next in succession.

Oguhleye, a third-year player from Indiana who will be featured on today's edition of CBS' "The NFL Today" at 1 p.m., someday could face an interesting choice between sacking quarterbacks or ruling a kingdom.


Trivia answer: 23, by the Vancouver Grizzlies in 1996 and the Denver Nuggets is 1998.


And finally: Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post, on the surprising Cincinnati Bengals: "I don't want to say it has been a while since they were any good, but the team's official bandwagon runs on leaded gas."


Larry Stewart can be reached at

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