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Tilt Reviews

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Our friends at SportsFanMagazine.com are following the premiere season of ESPN's "Tilt," episode by episode. Check out samples from their write-ups below, then follow the links to read the entire recap. See our TV Reviews section for more info.

Episode 6 begins with Clark and Miami licking their wounds in a diner. They conclude that Eddie was in cahoots with the Matador when he brought them down in the big card game. When Eddie shows up with a big gash on his nose, two black eyes and a split lip, it’s apparent he was not working with the Matador. For me, the worst thing about getting beaten up is coming up with excuses as to why you have numerous scrapes and bruises all over your face. A couple of years ago before my brother’s law school graduation, I was beaten up on U Street in the District. It was a couple of guys and they kicked and hit me repeatedly about the head and neck region. I can’t remember how it started but odds are I was to blame. Anyway, I told my parents that I fell off my bike—it was the best thing I could come up with. They couldn’t have believed me (what grown adult has bike wrecks every other month?), but wanted to lest they accept that their youngest was a street fighting idiot, and apparently not even a good one.

I used to teach middle school English years ago and I was still a bit wild in those days. My kids would always question why I would come in Monday with black eyes, fat lips, etc. I would usually say it happened during a basketball game or a rollerblade fall—remember when rollerblading was popular? Anyway, one day this sixth grade kid came in with a black eye. All the kids were questioning how he got the black eye. I was also intrigued because the teachers knew this kid had a violent dad so it was obvious what happened, but I wanted to see what good excuse he could come up with. Without hesitation he said, “I fell down the steps, again.” I was impressed with his quick thinking and gave him a friendly nod and he gave me a knowing wink with his good eye.

After Clark, Miami, Eddie agree to keep their team together and try to make a comeback, Eddie rips off his hospital ID bracelet and says, “this isn’t the bracelet we thought we’d end up with.” It’s a pretty solid line in an ever-improving series. Not to say there’s a "Desperate Housewives" buzz surrounding "Tilt," but some people are talking.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

Episode five of "Tilt" starts out with an officer from the gaming commission (was that Scott Bakula?) in place to investigate the Colorado Casino’s operation. Lowball says he will find the investigator’s "sweet tooth" and get him compromised. First he tries free golf clubs, then cash, and finally women. It’s only later in the show we find out his "sweet tooth" is the gay bellhop. That would be the absolute last thing on my "sweet tooth" list if one existed. First would be Skittles. Second to last would be gay concierge.

Miami, Clark and Eddie are set up to "take down the Matador in a cash game," and they get the $500,000 Seymour has staked them from his safety deposit box. We find out that Seymour won a bronze star in the Korean War. Apparently, he charged a hill at Chun King and captured some soldiers under the command of General Tso. He didn’t like to talk about the war because he lost a bunch of buddies at Lo Mein. Thank you for serving.

The group decides the game needs to be tonight because the time is right and the heat is on…and a couple other clichés I can’t remember. Since the bellhop compromised the investigator, the Matador is free to play in the "huge cash game" he had scheduled for tonight. Eddie tells the group to do whatever it is they do to prepare for a big card game. Clark runs on a treadmill and Eddie plays pool. The plan is for Eddie to use the Matador’s hand signals against him and feed the information to Clark and Miami. The perfect opportunity arises when the Matador thinks he has the "nut flush" because of Eddie’s signal. He doesn’t know that Clark actually has it so more than likely he’ll go all in and lose all his money. The situation is perfect for the crew.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

This was the best episode of the series.

It opens right after the death of Seymour Annismen, who was thrown from a balcony at the Colorado Casino and was impaled by a slot machine. It actually looked more painful than it sounds, if that’s possible. Eddie and Clark get the news in the paper, but Miami has been on a poker binge and isn’t aware. Since Seymour was her mentor, the news will no doubt hit her the hardest. She’s at the poker table when she hears the news and immediately takes all her chips and exits even though she had the winning hand, or the "nuts" as poker players call it -- as in, "I have the nuts, so I win" or "I win with the nuts" or "because I have the nuts, I win."

Does that make it clear?

Anyway, she freaks out and gets a gun from Seymour’s hotel safe and storms off to shoot the Matador. Eddie and Clark stop her before she, no doubt, would have shot herself in the foot or worse. She then goes back to the poker table and proceeds to insult this sturdy, honest truck driver who calls her "little sister." At first she takes the trucker’s money and says it’s because she read the "vacant look in your eye." It really pissed me off that she disrespected the trucker. Truckers are a vital part of our economy. Food doesn’t just magically appear at the local Safeway, you know. Remember watching TV on a school day when you got to stay home? Didn’t it seem like every commercial was either for how to be a trucker or how to be a bartender? For the longest time, I thought you only had two career choices when you got out of school. I would go back and forth: trucker, bartender, trucker, bartender. I like trucks, but I don’t like mullets, I would think. Or I like neon beer signs but I don’t like vomit.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

This was the best episode so far and the show is starting to hit its stride. It’s now well ahead of "Playmakers" in the ESPN series category, and probably only below “The Hot List” and “Cheap Seats” (so good) of best shows on the entire network…oh, and World’s Strongest Man. Will ESPN ever have the guts to run "World’s Gayest Man"? “Here’s Glen and he’s going to try to decorate this room faster than Bruce.”

I only use that example because gay men love to decorate.

The episode starts out with Eddie talking about playing in the right poker game and its importance to winning. He states, “If you’re the eighth most skilled player in the world you can’t win if you’re playing against the seven best in the world.” I call B.S. on that remark. If you’re the eighth best player in the world you have all the skills necessary to beat anyone, anywhere, anytime. The only difference between the top eight is the actual cards. Why don’t pros win the W.S.O.P. anymore? Mainly because too much of the game depends on luck. If you went to a poker camp for two weeks and immersed yourself in the intricacies of the game, you would come out an excellent poker player…and a whole lot thinner because the food at those poker camps is all low carb. That is a good idea -- poker camps -- seriously; someone should do that and cut me in for 20 percent because it was my idea. You know where to find me.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

ESPN has never been known for it’s subtlety, so it was easy to tell at the beginning of Episode 2 of its poker series "Tilt" who was supposed to be the sucker at the card game.

Well, actually they were all suckers, except for main character Eddie Towne. But the director wanted one guy to stand out so they dressed him, naturally, in a loud, yellow, checkered sport coat to go along with a matching fedora. The guy looked like Tom Landry at a Grateful Dead concert.

The out-of-town -- let me guess -- encyclopedia salesman, tries to read Eddie and even asks him if he should call Eddie’s large bet. Eddie replies, "Never ask a barber if you need a haircut." It’s a pretty good line, but hit a little close to home for me since the Rogaine stopped working. Eventually, Eddie traps the obvious out-of-towner into an all-in and takes his bankroll. If you’re the type of viewer that can overlook getting hit over the head with gambling cliché after gambling cliché then "Tilt" is going to be worth watching. They definitely have a number of intriguing story lines that are developing and worth investing your time.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

Count me as a huge fan of Texas Hold ‘em poker. I fell in with the whole fad that’s sweeping the country. Texas Hold ‘em is like a degenerate’s cabbage patch doll. It’s important to remember that while Tilt has young, attractive actors playing the part of the poker players, in real life poker players are barely one rung above crack whores and bus-stop flashers on the social scale. They usually fall into one of these five categories:

1) Fat-ass middle age guy who honestly wishes he could date the Queen of Clubs.

2) Cocky Asian guy who talks incessantly about how good a player he is, and while you can’t understand a lot of what he’s saying, it’s still really annoying.

3) Young white kid who played a lot in college -- he’s got at least a visor on and probably sunglasses as well. Sunglasses and a visor can’t hide the fact that your mom still does your laundry.

4) Girls -- there’s always at least one at every table. These girls are usually either really easy or feminists (there’s a difference?). I hosted a poker night last week and a friend e-mailed me to ask if he could bring his girlfriend. My reply: no and now you can’t come either.

5) Oxycontin addicts -- if you’re going to stay up for ninety-three hours straight, you might as well play poker.... (Read more at SportsFanMagazine.com)

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