In the past week, two of my fave TV shows, CSI and Cold Case, have both had a plotline that involves poker or even Texas Hold’em. On CSI (Vegas), a wizened veteran player takes a swig from his drink and keels over. Whodunnit? The young angry guy? The older female player who is acting strange? One of the others? Now here’s a surprise, the victim’s name is Doyle. But not Doyle Brunson, the real veteran poker player, of course. Still weird, isn’t it? The writers couldn’t come up with some other name? What’s the deal with that? Oh yeah, the perp isn’t who you might think, unless you caught the visual clue right at the beginning of the episode. And the perp’s intent wasn’t to kill but just cause some stomach discomfort. Unfortunately, the secret ingredient reacted badly from sugar candy from a specific part of Africa, which was tainted with lead.
On Cold Case (title: The River, code: 6533), a heroic, well-loved doctor is killed. A former crackwhore who is recuperating comes forward to finally tell the police. She witnessed the shooting, but being afraid of the cops, couldn’t come forward right away. As Philadelphia’s finest dig deeper, they find out that the charismatic but humble doctor has an increasingly growing addiction to gambling. Not just poker, but even to the point of betting which of two pigeons flies away from a windowsill first.
All the money from his account and his wife’s (a professor) is gone. His son, who was planning on going to Cornell medical school, gets a letter saying the tuition cheque bounced. A poker buddy is always egging him on, trying to get him to play another game. Eventually, the doctor sinks really low, planning to rob an exceptionally grateful woman, who’s husband’s life he saved. The big surprise, of course, is at the end. I guessed the perp right off the bat (I’m a veteran TV addict, especially to cop shows), but was knocked off my arrogant high-horse when the true motive is revealed. I was so wrong!! Wow. Didn’t see that coming.
Anyway, I doubt that these Casino Cbet episodes are a sign of any sort of trend. We’re not going to see CSI: Texas (Hold’em) anytime soon. Movies and cop shows have had poker scenes for decades. So don’t worry Keely Brown. Poker isn’t going to overtake the entire TV schedule.