One modern-day tale (maybe tall, maybe true) involves a poker game played a few years back between two players. Each brought more than a million dollars to the table. Play had started around mid-day and continued fairly non-stop into the wee morning …
One of the things I’ve always loved about Las Vegas, and specifically the game of poker, is the mythology. You can’t delve into the history without encountering colorful individuals, memorable events and tales that straddle the line between fact and legendary fiction.
One modern-day tale (maybe tall, maybe true) involves a poker game played a few years back between two players. Each brought more than a million dollars to the table. Play had started around mid-day and continued fairly non-stop into the wee morning hours. Multiple pots of more than $250,000 had slid from one side back to the other. During at least one early morning hand, a cool half-million had found its way into the center of the table. Railbirds were lined up watching the action with hypnotized stares and headshakes of disbelief.
But the most unbelievable move was yet to come. Around 3 a.m., Player A, who happened to be the one showing a profit from the game, announced he was exhausted and calling it quits. Player B, down roughly $550,000 for the game and obviously interested in recouping some of that damage, begged for two more hours, one more hour and finally 30 additional minutes of action.
When all those offers were rebuffed, he counted up his remaining chips at the table. Then, he made his final play.
“I’ve got $660,000 and I’ll flip you for it,” he offered, drawing incredulous gasps from the gawkers looking on.
So, put yourself in Player A’s position. What’s your answer?
While you’re thinking, I’ll get to the real point of the column. This weekend, likely in the very late-night hours of Friday or the wee morning hours of Saturday, quite a bit could be riding on the flip of a few coins around the state of Wyoming when it comes to high school football.
In-conference ties between two football teams are rightfully broken by looking to see who won the head-to-head showdown between the tied teams. The winner gets the better seeding on the playoff bracket.
Call it in the air. Heads, tails or, um, that third side?
From where I’m sitting, that seems to be a rather abrupt transition from a skill-based tiebreak employed in two-way ties to one that relies entirely upon blind random chance in the event of a three-way knot. Surely there’s some intermediate step that could slide in there and allow things to be decided based on the relative results on the field.
Or, if you come from the train of thought that the whole conference season matters, then look at the point differential for all conference games and break the tie that way.
The key element here is to locate something that took place on the field and use that as the basis for determining playoff seeds. Reward kids for the effort they put out when playing between the white lines. Let that hold the key to fate, rather than some haphazard drawing of lots or a make-or-break call of heads or tails.
All of which brings me back to that Vegas card room, Player A and the offer of a $660,000 coin flip. With a grin on his face and an acknowledgement of his opponent’s shrewd move, he declined the offer to lose what he’d worked so hard to amass.
The state activities association needs to look upon the situation with similar eyes when it comes to the football playoffs. Reward schools for what they’ve worked hard to achieve rather than rely on one moment of pure random chance.