West Wing
Celebrity Poker Showdown

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Deborah: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Shoe Money Tonight!

Finally, we cut to the playing table, where the five players are holding hands and uttering some noise halfway between praying and ululating and pretending to...I don't know, commune with Gamblor, the dark lord of poker or something. Allison's really into it. They break it up, and Martin claims he felt something -- a vibration. Richard tells him that it was him: "You were vibrating." The dealer -- a woman who is never introduced -- deals the first hand. She's periodically called up to explain or confirm the rules. We often get to see the hole cards as each player looks at them which, as Richard later points out, makes it more intimidating, because everyone watching knows if you folded or didn't when you should have, unlike when you're not playing for an audience, and you can just shove your cards back in the deck when it's over before anyone sees them. First hand: John bets, Richard folds, Martin calls, Allison folds, and Timothy...calls, I guess. I'm really not any clearer on the "calling" than the whole "blinds" thing. We get the flop, and they keep playing, and we've got Narrator Guy standing at the table talking about the game as well as Phil commenting on top of this. I think there are too many hosts, commentators, and whatnot. There's a lot of "check"ing, and I don't know what that's about either. Nobody's got a killer hand, though, from what I can make out. While I'm pondering what the hell is supposedly so fascinating about this game, Martin suddenly wins the pot of $2,900.

We cut to a little segment interviewing Martin about the charity he's playing for, which is the San Carlos Foundation, of which he is Vice-President. There are little graphics like a pair of cards; one has a picture of Martin, and he's a King. I thought that was because he's POTUS, but everybody's a King except Allison, who's a Queen. Martin talks about starting to play poker as a child and how he played when he was working as a caddy at a swanky private country club in Ohio way back in the days when he was still Ramon Estevez. He says he's a long shot: "I have no style when it comes to gambling. I just do it." He cracks up into a wheezy laugh.

Back to the next game: Allison goes first and bets $500. Timothy folds, John calls, Richard raises it to $1000, and Martin calls. When the flop's revealed, Timothy makes a pained face at the camera; I guess he should have stayed in. There's a whole bunch more checking and giggling, and frankly, if it made Allison Janney laugh, I would watch a mime pretend to repair circuit boards, because as I have said, she and Gillian Anderson have the best laughs on TV. Except that these days, you get to hear Allison's laugh on The West Wing about as much as you ever got to hear Scully's, and that is just nine kinds of wrong. Remember when The West Wing was funny? Yeah, me too. Good times. Another card, more checking, more laughing. Phil says they're playing their cards and not their opponents, and I guess that's not right. He says it's a "classic no-limit mistake." Another card, another pained face from Timothy, more checking and laughing and joking. I have no idea what the hell is going on, but it's certainly more diverting than most of what I've seen in Season Five. They all show their cards and John and Martin split a pot of four grand.

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West Wing

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