Avery Cardoza's Player

You know that guy in the cubicle next to you, the one who pontificates about his annual Las Vegas visit with the solemnity and reverence of a Mecca-bound pilgrim? The one who spouts "Vegas, baby, Vegas!" and "whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" as if they were personal credos rather than cheap marketing clichés? Well, gosh, do I have a magazine for him.

It's called Avery Cardoza's Player and it's appalling on about 37 different levels. While the publication purports to survey the gambling lifestyle, it does little besides perpetuate stale Vegas myths. Alternately smug and obvious, Player presumes exactly zero intelligence on the part of its readers and comes across as little more than a shiny marketing pamphlet.

Granted, the mag's main purpose is commerce and - at least around the time of its launch in late 2003 - publisher and sole backer Avery Cardoza hoped to drive readership by dropping it in the suites of high-end casinos. But it's difficult to imagine any affluent Vegas hound being diverted by an item on "the world's sexiest coffee maker," which boasts the wink-wink-nudge-nudge opening line, "No matter what cup size you prefer, the Impressa F9 will fulfill your desires." Seriously?

That's only the start of it. A reader Q&A section offers the sage advice that gamblers should "quit while [they're] ahead." An 11-page (!) photo essay on "Poker Faces" groups four players under the vaguely racist heading of "the Asian contingent." The "30 Great Lines From 30 Great Gambling Movies" features a quote from "CSI" - which, last I checked, was a TV show.

The mag can't even pull off a simple fashion spread: the pouty-lipped model is half-obscured by the shadow of a car door. And while it may not be true that all bimbos are created equal, it sure looks like that same model is featured in a different section only a few pages later. You'd think that a high roller could afford a second booking fee.

Player also seems to enjoy patting itself on the back, as witnessed by a three-page spread of non-celebrity pix from its one-year anniversary gala. Random people smiling and holding drinks? In your face, Us Weekly! Avery himself weighs in with a what-I-did-on-Christmas-vacation report on his experiences during a tournament sponsored by which, lo and behold, pops up in a full-page ad one page later.

And yet in the middle of it all, comes "Barbiturates at the Gate," a fine piece of investigative journalism on a horse-doping scandal that threatens to indelibly stain the so-called sport of kings. What it's doing among columns about booze and out-of-costume pix of the Village People (again: seriously?), I have no idea, but the piece warrants a better venue and a more sophisticated readership.

In the mag's "Real Deal" section, Player appends the inclusion of Alcoholics Anonymous in a list of silly Las Vegas conventions with the quip, "Is this a test?" Perusing the magazine, I found myself asking the same question over and over. In case you haven't guessed by now, Larry is a Player hater.

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