Dear La Russophobe:
I doubt that you are much of a poker fan [LR: that’s the understatement of the decade!] but you might be interested to know that every year in Las Vegas the world championships are held and this year one of the nine seats at the final table of no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em, where the winner earns over $8 million in prize money and is crowned the world champion, was occupied by a Russian professional player named Alexander Kravechenko. The eight other players at the table consisted of four Americans, two Brits, a Canadian and a South African.
To make the play fun for a television audience (hence increasing publicity, hence the number of entrants, hence the prize pool), each player has a camera at his seat which he uses to reveal his hole cards to the audience, so that they can play along. If I told you that one, and only one, of the nine players repeatedly refused to reveal his hole cards, spoiling the fun for everybody and undermining the sport itself, would you be able to guess which one it was?
Sure enough, it was the Russian. [LR: We’re shocked, shocked!] He also brought with him a coterie of whooping, seemingly drunken eccentrics to cheer him on from the gallery (much to the amusement of the TV commentators), but spent most of the time as the “short stack” and, while he got lucky a few times with several desperation all-in bets, ultimately did not manage to finish in the top three when the event concluded in mid-July (it was won by an American amateur and is just now being broadcast on ESPN television in the U.S. — don’t know if it gets on Russian TV or not).