Daily 3-Bet: Laak's Jacks, Spelling's Varkonyi, Kung Fu Panka

Phil Laak
We'd watch Phil do anything, pretty much.

The PokerListings Daily 3-Bet is a bread bowl of gumbo, a tube of head cheese and an unflinching stomach for afternoon poker news gustation.

Have something you'd like featured in a future 3-Bet? Let us know in the comments.

Today in the 3-Bet we find the pilot episode of Underground Poker getting the post-mortem treatment, former Spelling Bee champ Pratyush Buddiga delves deep into his fascinating background and Dominik Panka begins to throw some punches at the 2014 PCA.

1) Underground Poker Debuts

In case you missed it the pilot episode of a possible new poker show aired on Discovery Channel last night.

Called Underground Poker it stars two of poker's favorite sons - Antonio and Phil - in New Orleans trying to get into underground poker games. If it gets picked up as a series, they'll move on to cities around the US/world and do likewise.

It was a good watch. Engaging (if scripted at times). And has potential to be an Anthony Bourdain-esque foray into the lesser-known poker corners of America. Also: an interesting/new way to bring poker out of the casino and back to the TV masses.

Those who watched seemed to fall into one of two camps: Those who felt similar to the above or those who felt the poker was too minimal/manufactured/dumbed down (see the clip of Laak and his PLO jacks below) or the production itself wasn't up to par.

We're in Camp 1. Lots to like. Two great characters. And great for poker if it gets picked up. Check the clip below and tweet @Discovery to say you want more.

2) Pratyush: He's the Moneymaker, I'm the Varkonyi

We've been fascinated by Pratyush Buddiga for a while now, and not just after we found out he won the Scripps National Spelling Bee when he was 13.

Pratyush Buddiga
Not just Mike McDonald's roommate and the Robert Varkonyi of spelling.

Turns out we didn't even know the half of it. In an awesome new interview with Remko Rinkema on iGaming.org Buddiga maps out his path in life and poker from his spelling-prodigy days to his near-perfect SAT score to his undergrad at Duke to his current "third-tier" status in the poker world.

Lots of great passages to excerpt but this one about him and his brother Akshay, who famously fainted in the Spelling Bee the year after Buddiga won, stands out (and is an interesting parallel to poker:

“The year I won it was $12,000 for first and the year he finished second it was $12,000 to first. The next year it ended up being $40,000 in prizes and got moved up to primetime on ABC.

"The fainting video went viral and sparked that. My brother is the Chris Moneymaker of spelling bees. I like to joke that I’m the Robert Varkonyi of spelling bees just because I won before anyone actually figured out how to play the game.”

"It got so much more exposure. I thought it was pretty big when I won, I did a bunch of TV shows but now it’s just massive. Wall to wall spelling bee coverage on ABC and ESPN."

The whole thing is great. (Side note: If Pratyush and his brother ever make a rap track for ESPN's WSOP broadcast, that's the title right up there).

3) Timex Throttles, Teska Tanks, Panka Rises

Episode six of the PokerStars 2014 PCA is now up and, as we said with Episodes 1-5, the stories are great, the commentary is delightful and the poker is pretty sharp, too.

Timex is charging for to be the first-ever two-time EPT winner and running/playing like God. Roger Teska continues to drink Bloody Mary's, embarrass himself on TV and bleed his chips away. Loni Harwood, Madis Muur, Kyle Sorel ... all make for some captivating poker/TV.

I this episode in rides our hero Dominik Panka from the outer feature table, kicking his way through his unsuspecting foes. Or, you know, quietly sneaking his way into the Top 10 chip counts. Depends how you look at it. What fate awaits our Rising Star nominee? Only time will te... He wins. Still, great watch.

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