Thursday, August 16, 2007

Freedom of Choice

Bluff Magazine announces its 2nd annual Reader's Choice AwardsLast week Bluff Magazine kicked off its second attempt at running what they call their “Reader’s Choice Awards.” The first go-round didn’t go so smoothly, you might recall.

After printing the issue and naming Pocket Fives as the “Best Poker Forum,” Bluff came back with a retraction stating that the actual winner chosen by readers was in fact Two Plus Two. Bluff co-president Eric Morris insisted the error resulted from editorial carelessness, though others -- namely Two Plus Two owner Mason Malmuth -- said the switcheroo had to do with Two Plus Two’s unwillingness to grant Bluff free ad space on its site in exchange for the award.

If you’ve already forgotten about that snafu -- sheesh, it was only a few months ago -- here’s the 2+2 post where Mason Malmuth made the allegation of monkey business. Then go read Haley’s post about it over on the Kick Ass Poker blog, plus her follow-up which includes Morris’s response to the matter.

Looking over this year’s ballot, one finds twenty questions altogether. The first eight concern online poker sites (best overall, best tourneys, best customer service, etc.). Then one is asked to choose the best poker forum, best poker blog, and best poker podcast. Then come six questions about brick-and-mortar rooms (best all-around, best dealers, etc.). A couple of questions about televised poker follow -- best show and best commentators. Then one picks the most entertaining player to watch. Finally, the last question asks the respondent to fill in the name of his or her favorite poker player.

Only the last question offers readers a chance to write in a response -- all of the others have pre-selected candidates from which one must choose. Meaning, of course, a lot of worthy folks in just about every category have been left out of the running.

Allow me to comment briefly here about two of the categories: Best Poker Blog and Best Poker Podcast.

Bluff Magazine's choices for best poker blogHere are the ten candidates for best poker blog. I follow most of these, though I have to admit I only now & then get over to the players’ blogs (Negreanu, Lynch, Townsend, the Ballas crew). Some pretty glaring omissions here, the most obvious (to me) being the aforementioned Kick Ass Poker, Up for Poker, Bigger Deal, and Tao of Poker. Other pro player sites -- like Shaniac’s or maybe Paul Wasicka’s -- arguably deserve a place here, as well. (And now that I think of it, wasn’t Morris wearing Bodog gear at the Main Event this year . . . ? Never mind . . . .)

When it comes to poker blogs, we all seek different pleasures, I suppose, thus making any contest to choose the “best” blog a hopelessly imprecise exercise. Since I prefer blogs that take a somewhat comprehensive approach to discussing the “poker world” -- while also entertaining me once in a while -- I would favor Iggy and Pokerati here. I do enjoy PokerWorks, though really consider it multiple blogs. Name recognition will likely promote Negreanu to the top spot, though, when the votes are counted.

Bluff Magazine's choices for best poker podcastAnd here are the seven poker podcasts from which we get to choose. I’m sorry, but it wouldn’t have been that hard to have looked just a little further into the poker podcast scene before publishing the ballot. Bluff Poker Radio hasn’t been on the air since February (though I suppose the magazine had to include it). And I wouldn’t even count the rarely-updated Full Tilt Poker Learn from the Pros as a podcast. I emailed Bluff to ask whether “The Poker Show” is meant to refer to Rounders, though I haven’t received a reply. If so, Rounders is going to lose some votes because folks won’t recognize the name. Not Florida 2000, but worth noting anyhow.

Again, I’d have included a few others here (Beyond the Table, Keep Flopping Aces, Poker Psychology). I also enjoy both PokerDiagram and Poker Podcast World, though neither produces shows often enough to get onto the ballot, I think. And while it ain’t my favorite, I’m kind of surprised the Joe Average Poker Show is not on the list, either.

Given the choices, I’d pick Ante Up!, with Rounders and PokerWire close behind. PokerWire will win here, I’m certain.

Pocket Fives does a nice job every week, though some of the interviews with online tourney phenoms tend to sound the same. Phil Gordon’s Poker Edge is hit-or-miss for me. I do recommend his most recent show, though, in which he interviews 2007 WSOP Main Event champ Jerry Yang.

(Incidentally, in the Yang interview the champ confirms he had JJ on the big early hand where Lee Childs folded and showed pocket queens. What a hand. Can’t fault Childs too much there, though. And he’s a great sport . . . check out his comments on this recent post over on the Ante Up! blog.)

Such awards provide an interesting diversion, I guess. And landing an award will certainly mean a feather in the winner’s cap, however imperfect the contest may be.

Here’s hoping that feather doesn’t come with a solicitation.

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