Big Gamble for the Big Game

I’ll admit it.  When I ended up waling into the set of “The Big Game” yesterday, I was kind of hoping it would be the Jared Higgins episode.    For those who may not know, Higgins is a bit of an internet sensation—a down on his luck kid trying to get back on his feet after busting his roll.  It is a charming story, though I have not read the entire Higgins oeuvre.

The idea came up to get Higgins on PokerStars’ The Big Game.  Petitions circulated, he applied, and he even made it fairly deep into the process before getting cut by producers.  Cue TwoPlusTwo melee.  The forums lit up, claiming Stars had no idea what they were doing and had to be crazy for passing up on such a great story.

And this is the point where I came in and just heaved a big sigh.

Before we return to Higgins and The Big Game, here is a story from my past life in the world of Hollywood:

A friend of mine worked in production at a new show called “Deal Or No Deal.”  During the initial round of episodes, the casting directors found all sorts of compelling stories—couples in need, young kids trying to get their life together straight out of college.  I even bet there was a former homeless guy in the line-up.  It was a recipe for success.  And it turned out to be a disaster.

You see, these couples or young kids got a call from the banker offering them $20,000 and they snatched it up in no time.  Can’t blame them.  I would too.  You see, when you put people with genuine financial struggles on game shows, there isn’t a lot of gambling.  The producers dangle a carrot in front of them and they say “Thanks” before heading on their merry way.

With the Deal or No Deal debacle in mind, I was far from surprised to see Higgins rejected.  The producer side of me that refuses to die thought the likelihood he nits it up or plays conservatively has to be high.  Plus, I can’t imagine Standards and Practices loving the idea of giving a guy being depicted as homeless $100,000 and forcing him to gamble with it. 

There are other concerns with Higgins as a Loose Cannon.  How is the poker pro who potentially busts the guy going to look when he beats him in a pot?  What if he is not a very entertaining TV persona? 

Most importantly, how will a casual poker fan react to this scenario?  What TwoPlusTwo often forgets is that this show is not for them.  It is for soccer moms, dads with white collar jobs, and retirees with disposable income.  It is a show designed to appeal to people who are notionally intrigued by online poker and might be swayed to open an account once they see people like them having a ball on the show.

Call me crazy, but a guy who theoretically exhibited some less than stellar bankroll management to get into the predicament he finds himself in is not the ideal candidate to bring skeptics over to the online cause.

Then the unthinkable happened.  Stars changed their minds.  I have no idea whether the pressure of 2P2  was the sole reason they included Higgins on the show, but I can only hope that isn’t the case.  It is one thing to be upset that the horse you were rooting for didn’t make it.  I understand, I was devastated when Kevin didn’t win Top Chef: Las Vegas.  It sucks.

What I didn’t do was write a scathing review to Bravo TV informing them that I know more about television production than they do.  Because I don’t.  And neither do you TwoPlusTwo.

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