onsdag, april 29, 2009

The poker kids of Buenos Aires

They come primarily from the US, but some also from a smattering of European countries. Almost exclusively aged between 20 and 25. Their mission? Making it as professional poker players.

The last couple of years have seen the virtual establishment of a colony of expat poker players in Buenos Aires. Between 50 and 100 live in the city, less when the brief, mild Argentinian winter sets in.

What drives them to Argentina? Motivation is served by reports in an internet poker forum of reasonable living costs, great steaks, never-ending nightlife and hot women. As well as an established community of fellow players, making for a less scary transition to the unknown, since for many of the Americans this is the first step on foreign soil.

The actual setup varies between the ones who play for smaller and bigger stakes. While some go for relatively mundane housing, others rent luxury apartments far beyond what is possible in Europe or the US. Rooftop jacuzzis, maids - even hiring personal assistants and chefs to facilitate spending as much time as possible playing online poker.

The fact that Argentina boasts a pleasant climate and is close to both the European and American time zones makes Buenos Aires a convenient place to live for the poker pros. Some plan to save up money for starting different careers in the future when the poker boom may wane, others just stay afloat to enjoy the lavish lifestyle possible in this great city. A way of life most guys in their early 20s can only dream of.

onsdag, april 01, 2009

Korean e-sport bizarro

Expanding on the previous post on South Korean TV's live transmission of so-called "e-sport", this is the studio found on top of a shopping mall in central Seoul. The show featured two contestants along with promogirls and three quite enthusiastic presenters.

The live audience largely consisted of teenage girls and nerds like this. Like most others in the audience he had made a sign cheering on his favourite player, ready to lift it up to when the cameras required. Sadly for him, the cameras preferred to focus on the girls' elaborate anime-style drawings of their favourite cute player.

Worse, when two professional players appeared to take a seat in the audience, they pointedly ignored his attempts at communication, understandably rather opting for flirting with the female presence. Nice social microcosm right there.

No introduction of players complete without screams.

Game over!