Unfortunately, the first subject we have to cover is the Phil-in. Shorn of the hat and sunglasses, Hellmuth looks like a man whose not-so-secret desire is to be Elvis. Instead, he comes across as someone who's been lightly covered in a layer of grease. While he has knowledge, he's not too good at sharing it yet, and we've seen more of the original Phil's non-existent temper -- 'shoot myself in the head with a bazooka' -- than the emotions of a supposed poker brat. I know it took a while for the chemistry to develop between TallPhil and Dave, but there was at least a spark to begin with. Right now, the most passion we're seeing from this pairing is Hellmuth's incessant need to defend 'my pick!' Whee... Maybe that's why Robert's voice sounded a little off: he came in fresh from a three-hour crying jag. The rapport may develop, but right now, it's no sure thing.
The new set lacks something, and holding the tournament in a bar doesn't help. Plus no matter what you call it, the room will remain the Loser's Lounge. Because they're losers. Loo-sers. They lost. Live with it.
The good news: we got a funny table to start, with some actual action and not too many thousands of complaints from the 'Why are you calling?' gallery. The bad news: they ran the second table before the first, so the next group must really svck...
Kevin: Apparently the curse of the pick has passed into my hands... I'm going to do Kevin the very great favor of assuming that at some point in his life before this table, he had seen a deck of cards and was told what they were for. Beyond that, we have absolutely nothing worth discussing here.
Jamie: Ohmigawd, was that the worst beat in the history of CPS or what? In terms of significance to the final outcome, Brad drawing to a tie on the river might rank above this, but for sheer 'Here are two cards: choke on them' potential, that was horrible. Let's see if he ever comes back for a second appearance. In fact, let's see if he develops a phobia. 'Small rectangular objects! Take them away! Take them away!'
Susie: Well, she seemed to revel in the impromptu -- attention. Sure, let's call it attention, because the other option is Dicque/Susan II. Seemed to get the rough idea of what to do, but needed either a little more experience or a lot more of the legendary Dule' luck, which ran out fast after the Bad Beat From Hell. Will never, ever get anywhere with Jamie, because he and Kevin hate tens, and when they look at Susie, what are they going to see? Tens. Tens everywhere. It's psych disorder night on CPS! Bring a straightjacket!
Bryan: Is this our new version of James Woods? The best player at the table who does get the cards, makes the final two, and then has every hand fall through his fingers? Had a couple of the funniest moments ever seen on the show -- 'Male and female genitalia: shuffle up and deal!' -- and the massage of Robert was inspired. Oddly creepy, but inspired. However, this is arguably the man with the most skill, and what did that teach us? That once you get down to heads-up, skill stops meaning anything. He'll be back for a third try if he can. And he'll probably go out the exact same way.
Jason: Okay, just marry the dealer. His poker play has improved somewhat since his last appearance, and he seemed to have taken twenty testosterone pills before stepping onto the stage: see other dominant male, try to kill other dominant male. He can't be looked as the favorite going into the championship table unless things get really weird on the other four, but remember, skill ultimately means nothing... And what was the point of those sunglasses, anyway?
We're back. It's just that one of us is gone, and I miss him.