The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

A quick bridge thought

Bridge needs a big money tournament, like the World Series of Poker. Perhaps a World Series of Rubber Bridge (without fixed partnerships … “Cut for partner”) would force the players to use simpler systems. A big money tournament could probably fill up a few hours of Espn 8 (“The Ocho!”) … Obviously worrying about cheating is an issue, but that doesn’t seem to stop Poker.

Written by taogaming

April 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Bridge

6 Responses

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  1. They had high-stakes dominos a few years back on the Ocho. I heard that they had to ban it because teammates were constantly crossboarding. Poker doesn’t have that problem.

    Fred Bush

    April 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm

  2. I think the way I would attack high-stakes bridge would be to get 2 sharp people who have Tourette’s, get them decent in basic bridge, and teach them a bunch of signals. If the authorities try to ban them for signalling, bam, ADA complaint.

    Fred Bush

    April 13, 2010 at 9:57 pm

  3. At major bridge events, they set up a room where you can watch players play a hand, with cameras on the players and commentators. The hands are known, as well as how the hand was played by the other half of the team (the big events are team-of-four competitions). (I’m sure you’re aware of this Brian, but I figure many of your readers aren’t.)

    The point is that it’s similar to the TV productions of poker that you see on TV all the time. And while the commentators can add (or subtract) a lot, it isn’t as interesting because the players can’t really talk during the hand, the decisions the players have to make are usually either really easy or really, really hard (which is interesting, but the visual experience of watching someone sit and think about a problem leaves something to be desired) and almost all the decisions are fairly slow.

    Poker has the advantage that even if you don’t understand all the things players are (or might be) thinking about, at least you can understand the results (some player wins money, maybe a lot of money); at bridge, the results are more subtle, and may depend a lot on the esoteric details of scoring and bidding systems.

    I think poker is getting a lot of mileage out of the personalities of the players; I’m not sure there’s that much charisma at the top of the bridge world.


    April 16, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    • The game that REAAAALY needs a big money tournament is actually Tichu. 🙂


      April 19, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    • Some of the players are charismatic. Zia, for example. Right now, however, globalization has resulted in about half the top players’ not being primary English speakers. That makes it hard for American viewers to perceive their personalities.

      Even accounting for that, I think the top players right now are not as interesting as the top players of the past. Competition is much stronger than it used to be, so the swashbuckling instinct players of the past won’t win as much as the intense concentration, extreme preparation types of today. Of course, that’s really always been true, at least since the Blue Team forcibly demonstrated that preparation matters, which was roughly 50 years ago.

      The main difference between poker and bridge isn’t that poker players are more interesting, but that bridge is a much harder game. Therefore it is slower. Slow and TV do not mix well.


      April 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm

  4. There is one, the Cavendish Invitational. This year’s starts May 5th. It’s a Calcutta typically with over $1 million in the pool. The website isn’t current yet, but


    April 22, 2010 at 11:47 am

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