Under Review

Jan. 17, 2005
Jan. 17, 2005

Table of Contents
Jan. 17, 2005

Sports Illustrated Bonus Section: Golf Plus
SI Players: Life On and Off the Field
SI Players
NFL Playoffs
College Basketball
Inside The NBA
Inside Baseball

Under Review

Early in the first episode of Tilt, ESPN's stylish new original drama series (Thursdays, 9 p.m.), a pit boss tells a wannabe high roller looking for a no-limit poker game, "It's all anybody wants to play now since they put it on TV." Strangely, the one place no one seems to be playing no-limit hold 'em is on Tilt. This is a good thing--if you want to see poker on the tube, it's not hard to find, and by not inundating the show with table action, Tilt avoids obvious poker-movie clichés. ("What? He was bluffing?!") Instead it focuses on a high-strung hood called the Matador, played by Michael Madsen in a role that fits him as comfortably as the beat-up leather jacket he wears everywhere. The Matador has the annoying habit of speaking only in poker platitudes ("A set of deuces is kind of like a mackerel in the moonlight.... ") and tough-guy talk ("Eight grand? If I run out of toilet paper at home, I wipe my a with eight grand"). But he's a preternaturally gifted player who's amassed cash, power and a substantial enemies list, which includes an Iowa cop and a hip trio of twentysomethings, a poker-playing Scooby gang with a mysterious score to settle. As they scour Vegas trying to put together a bankroll for their inevitable showdown with the Matador, you can't help but get drawn into their seamy little world. --M.B.

This is an article from the Jan. 17, 2005 issue Original Layout