Saturday, March 13, 2010

Poker Faces

Just got finished reading a book called "Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker" by James McManus.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I do know how to read. Moving on.

Very interesting stuff. The 2009 tome traces not only the history of the game, but ties its strategy and techniques to much of what we do as Americans, from finance, to foreign affairs, to the way we fight wars. Basically, he makes a point that poker is intrinsically tied to the American DNA.

So how does this relate to this blog? Well, I was quite surprised to see in the closing pages that McManus referenced the NFL draft. Now, we've all been around this annual bluff-fest long enough to know how much smoke-screening, misinformation, silence, and outright lying goes on in the weeks before the draft. But this passage, to me, simply reinforced that no matter what we here about any prospect or team plans over the next six weeks should be taken with, oh, about a pound and a half of salt.

Here's what McManus wrote.

"According to a USA Today cover story, 'the World Series of Poker has nothing on the NFL Draft. As the league's 32 teams have nitpicked hundreds of college players eligible for the draft in New York City, many of the teams have also jockeyed for an edge by trying to conceal their true intentions.' The story notes that the weeks before the draft 'are filled with misinformation campaigns, media leaks, and smokescreens as teams play what amounts to a high-stakes game of bluffing.'"

McManus goes on to outline how a team might talk a player down publicly, perhaps floating a story about a failed drug test or, as the Giants did with Aaron Ross in 2007, bringing in a flock of other draft candidates for private visits, but leaving him conspicously uninvited.

"The bluffing team's goal," McManus wrote, "is to downplay the value of a player they covet so that a team picking earlier doesn't draft him. The other team's job is to suss out that player's actual market value...'Every head coach, every GM, everyone involved with every team right now is playing poker,' according to Kansas City Chiefs coach (and now ESPN analyst) Herm Edwards. 'Whatever someone says, it's about half-true. That's the way the game is played.'"

Of course, we all knew that. It's just fun to see it written in a different context.


1 comment:

  1. This is what I think is happening with CJ Spiller. There isn't one team in the top ten that could use him. One of those teams will take him because I can't believe this guy is not a consensus top five pick with his All-American body of work on a team where it was apparent he was the only star.