Thursday, October 22, 2009
The Amazing Race
I'm sure most reading this are aware that we have two known poker players participating on CBS' The Amazing Race this season in the form of Maria Ho and Tiffany Michelle. I don't call them poker professionals because that is not a word I throw around lightly, unlike most people in poker -- especially those who want people to think they are better than they really are.
That's not to say that either of these girls is not a poker "pro". The only ancedotal evidence I have to go on is the WSOP. Maria and Tiffany are most famous for being the last women standing in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Maria finished 33rd and Tiffany was 17th. I don't believe this fact has been discussed during the CBS telecasts, but perhaps explaining it to viewers at home would be a bit too wordy for a fast-paced show.
Otherwise, I don't think either of them has much of a tournament record to speak of. When I interviewed Maria after the 2007 WSOP she talked about playing high stakes limit hold'em cash games at the Commerce with good success. When I interviewed Tiffany after last year's WSOP she spoke mostly about here past acting gigs and work with PokerNews. While I do know that her most famous acting role was as a dying teenager in the arms of Noah Wyle I don't know of her poker success outside the WSOP.
While I will grant that reality show producers can edit the film to make participants look as bad as possible, Tiffany and Maria did a good job of giving themselves a black eye early on when they told their competitors that they worked with homeless children rather than played poker for a living. The jig was up when some people recognized them at the airport and they looked really bad for that lie. However, they have settled in since then and have even made an alliance in the race with a couple of guys who waited for them to get a replacement car after Maria tried to drive over a steel barrier and busted the radiator. This followed Michelle allowing one of the guys to use her ladle during a water-finding challenge in the Dubai desert.
While Tiffany and Maria have looked better in character in recent episodes they are very fortunate to still be in the race. During the first two-hour episode they came in last during one leg of the race, but were lucky it was a non-elimination leg. This is a feature the producers have added during The Amazing Race's run that I can't stand. If they want to extend the number of episodes to air during a season they should add more teams, not let some lucky teams off the hook in such a cheesy fashion. It feels like cheating.
Maria and Tiffany caught another break two episodes ago when the team that reached the finish line first lost a passport and were eliminated when they could not find it. TiffMar was last on that leg and would have been booted from the race that time, too, if not for a second lucky break. It appears they have caught a couple of two outers.
Can that luck continue? A team of two women has never won The Amazing Race. Due to some physical challenges that pop up along the way a team of two females can find themselves at a disadvantage. There is one precedent that has previously been set in which TiffMar is following the form. A few seasons ago two hippie-type guys finished last during two non-elimination legs and went on to win the race. Just as with as poker tournament it takes a fair amount of luck to win The Amazing Race.