Poker Lessons Test 'Boston Rob''

"Boston Rob" Mariano was the great manipulator from "Survivor: All Stars." He placed second in the TV competition and married the winner, Amber Brkich. The couple later competed together and nearly won "The Amazing Race."

Now the former reality star will help viewers of the The Early Show deal with real-life dilemmas in a new series called "Rob to the Rescue."

Rob headed to New Jersey to help a group of suburban housewives who were desperate for a night out and a game of Texas Hold 'Em poker.

Kiersten Wilson and her husband run their own fuel company.

"I'm at home dealing with customers and he's out on the road delivering to customers." she said.

Kiersten is also busy with the couple's two children.

"One does dance, one does gymnastics. So there's always somewhere to be shuttling the kids off to," she said. "Play group is fun, but it's also exhausting because somebody is always crying. So it's not like we're getting to sit and relax."

Kiersten says it would be nice to have one night a week of adult conversation.

"We figured we would try poker and I know Rob tried his hand at the World Poker Tour, so what better person to teach us than Rob?" she said.

With no experience playing Texas Hold 'Em, Rob begins by explaining the game to Kiersten and three of her friends.

Rob tells them that no-limit Texas Hold 'Em is a variation of five-card poker. The best hand in poker is a royal flush. The next highest hand is a straight flush.

"I was looking at them and they looked like they were in another world," he said. "I just don't think they were getting it."

After playing a few practice hands, Rob told them that in order to play the game properly, they needed to put something on the line.

"Whoever wins at the end of the night will be crowned the champion. All the other girls who lose have to give that one champion a favor," he said. "No favor can be denied. Remember, this is gambling. If you lose, you have to pay up."

Suddenly, it was a whole new group of players at the table.

"This is the worst hand in poker," Rob said to one player. "Obviously you went to the Rob School of Poker."

The women were betting pretty conservatively. There was not an aggressor in the group.

"You guys are all so cheap with your chips. They're only chips," Rob said.

"No. They're favors and we're all busy," one player said.

After a little prodding, the players loosened up a bit.

When it came down to the final two players, Kiersten had a huge chip lead over Sue.

"I felt I should get in (Sue's) corner and help her out," Rob said.

Despite his help, Kiersten won with a full house and was quick to name her favors.

"Babysitting from you, pasta from you and you can clean my house," she tells her friends.

"All in all, I'm glad she won," Rob said. "Kiersten took the initiative and called me, but when she found out I was coming, I think she read up a little bit and, in the end, it paid off."

Ron presented Kiersten with a Texas Hold 'Em trophy with his photo on it.

"I've never won a trophy before," Kiersten said. "Thank you, Rob. This was worth it all."

"Enjoy it. I'm glad I could come to your rescue," he said.

Just like "Survivor's" immunity idol, the plan is to pass that trophy around to each week's winner. Kiersten says she intends to hold on to it for a while.

Next week, Rob's in Grovetown, Ga., helping an elementary school build the perfect float for its Christmas parade.
  • Michelle Singer

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