Friday, May 02, 2008

“If it’s buzz they were looking for, mission accomplished”

Shamus at the laptopBeen trolling through the ever-growing Two Plus Two thread regarding the announcement by ESPN and Harrah’s that the final table of this year’s WSOP Main Event will be delayed until November. Lotta hysteria there, as one would expect. A few interesting nuggets along the way, though. So you don’t have to read through all 567 posts, I thought I’d pull out five excerpts I found particularly interesting:

1. Two-time WPT champ Alan Goehring weighed in early on to voice his displeasure at the decision. “I love the WSOP ME (well, at least until now),” writes Goehring, “but if FT players’ participation in a reality show is required to play in the event, I will probably not play the event.”

Shortly afterward, responding to an earlier poster’s comment that “the real business here is not poker, it’s show business,” Goehring added the following: “My problem is I enjoy playing poker, but I don’t care about show business. What should I do?”

2. Tourney reporter B.J. Nemeth came on a little while later to respond to the many negative comments as well as point out some of the inaccuracies regarding the proposal that were being passed around. Nemeth has already outlined his support on the idea on Tao of Poker and elsewhere.

Nemeth predicts that “some of you will just be clinging to your initial negative reactions long after the potential benefits become clear.” He also says he’d “love for everyone to reread this thread in 18 months, after this ‘experiment’ has happened twice (the 2008 and 2009 WSOP).” Nemeth thinks that then “most people will laugh at all the negativity and misinformation in this thread.”

3. About 180 posts into the thread, Oliver Tse, a well-known poker player agent, shares some thoughts similar to those he’d previously aired over in the Pokerati comment section a few weeks ago. Tse notes the abysmal ratings for WPT’s Week 1 premiere over on GSN and the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship, concluding that “the WSOP organization had NO CHOICE but to announce the ‘plausibly live’ WSOP ME FT presentation as soon as possible in order to put a stop to the negative sentiment surrounding the televised poker industry in the U.S. market.” In other words, says Tse, the poor ratings “forced Jeffrey Pollack’s hand.”

Tse goes on to clarify just how high the stakes are here, in his opinion: “If the ‘plausibly live’ implementation were to make no difference in the ratings, then the whole idea of televised poker as a rights fee TV property with multiple product sponsorships would break down completely. Televised poker would then be nothing more than infomercials for casinos and online poker websites. Dozens of people, including myself, will then be looking for new careers outside poker.”

4. Professional player Shane “Shaniac” Schleger has made several contributions to the thread voicing his profound displeasure with the plan. He makes several different points throughout the discussion, one of the more convincing (to me) concerning how the four-month delay utterly changes the whole concept of tournament poker.

“How are we supposed to keep the integrity of the game and the safety of the players intact under this new ‘experiment,’” asks Schleger. “Please tell me why poker players should be content to see the format of their beloved poker game bastardized and twisted around in order to (maybe) generate more tv ratings.”

5. Finally, Daniel Negreanu, a proponent of the move, chimed with Post No. 440 in the thread. “Judging by the length of this thread,” he says, “if it's buzz they were looking for, mission accomplished. It appears the majority of the buzz is negative, but buzz is buzz.”

He then goes on to say that he thinks “what most people are missing is that this change will effect less than 1% of the entrants. Getting hot and bothered about a change that will likely have no negative impact on you in your lifetime seems to be a bit unnecessary.” A curious observation, actually, since I think we can all agree -- no matter how we feel about the decision to delay the final table -- the change most certainly affects more than nine people.

He then points out that what we’re having here is a one-time trial which will be abandoned if it doesn’t work out. He says the final nine “will all get a minimum of a million dollars” (not quite sure that’s true, actually). After making a couple of other points, Negreanu concludes by saying how good he thinks the change will be for televised poker. “Reality TV is very powerful and draws in a wide spectrum of viewers,” says Negreanu. “Giving the main event a bit of a boost by copying a formula that clearly works with viewers in the U.S. is worth the risks of delaying the final table, IMO.”

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just thinking that people have committed serious crimes or morally reprehensible acts for much less money than what's at stake here...
With the organizers signaling they don't mind sacrificing the integrity of the game and the sportman-ship of the sport, I don't think the players should be held to any higher standards either.
I can totally see how two players could use all this time to set up a collusion strategy and maybe even "disable" the chip-leader or the famous favorite before the play resumes.
Or, if not two players, maybe a less scrupulous (mob connected) bookie decides to put big money on the underdog and then makes sure the other players will not play their best game (if they can play at all).
With all this time at their disposal all kinds of people will make all kinds of plans, believe you me...
Fantastic blogg by the way

5/02/2008 12:43 PM  
Blogger Aquaman said...

Hey Shamus thanks for the Cliff-Notes version. I would never been able to slog through that many posts.

I'm not for the change, but then again the DH still upsets me in the AL. A 114 day delay without a doubt alters the dynamic of the final table, thus hurting the integrity of the event. (A small evil part of me hopes one of the fianists dies, gets arrested or something, so a person is missing from the fianl table.)

It hurts the integrity and purity of the game, but lots of people benefit, ESPN and Harrah's of course. (How do they get away with not adding to the prize pool?) But all the final table people will undoubtedly make more money through sponsorship deals. Even the viewers benefit as it will make the broadcast more exciting.

But I will miss the Pay-per-view see every hand broadcast.

5/04/2008 3:14 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

A couple hundred more posts in the last two days. A lot of noise, but here are three of the more interesting ones:

In Post #675, a poster named "sandycove" explains why he believes the decision has stripped the "romance" from the ME. As he puts it, "The iconic stature and lottery appeal of the event have been all the cover the operators needed to gloss over their greed and arrogance, in their refusal to share even a small portion of any added value over time with participants. I do understand that the promoters have some strategic goals and they believe some of them might be seen to serve some common good. I oppose all of them."

In Post #738, Martin Aigner, a poker pro from Austria, interestingly speculates about the possibility of one of the final nine not showing for the FT.

In Post #740, Oliver Tse elaborates on his point that "(Harrah's) Caesars Entertainment and the WSOP Players Advisory Council both have NO CHOICE but to allow ESPN to dictate the November 9-10 WSOP Main Event final table date."

5/04/2008 7:20 PM  

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