Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Secret Struggle of the Starmaker (on Marketing the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table), Postscript

November Nine starI continue on my “poker sabbatical,” taking a break from poker for a few days here following that nasty week-long run at the tables.

I actually punctuated the bad streak with a big withdrawal of funds -- which had a terrific psychological effect, by the way. Instantly went from singing “I’m a Loser” to “Feelin’ Groovy.” Hello, lamp post. Whatcha knowin’?

I did leave myself enough on both PokerStars and Full Tilt to go back, although when I do I’ll necessarily be moving down in stakes so as to secure the now smaller rolls.

Still allowing myself to play the freebies, though, and so will be taking a shot again this afternoon at another World Blogger Championship of Online Poker event, once again no-limit hold’em. Couldn’t play in the one last night as it didn’t start until 10 p.m. Eastern. Too late for shleepy Shamus.

Of course, the one WBCOOP event I am most intrigued about comes tomorrow. That’ll be the mixed game event Stars generically refers to as “8-Game Mix” but I prefer calling “S.P.L.E.N.D.O.R.” That’s the one that rotates between the five H.O.R.S.E. games (limit hold’em, limit Omaha/8, razz, stud, stud/8), no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, and limit 2-7 triple draw. Have practically zero experience in the latter, so may well have to skim Daniel Negreanu’s chapter in Super/System 2 to have a clue.

Meanwhile, I wanted to add a quick postscript to a post from a few weeks back called “The Secret Struggle of the Starmaker (On Marketing the 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table).” That was the post in which I talked about what Harrah’s Sports and Entertainment Director of Communications Seth Palansky said on Gary Wise’s podcast (the 11/19/08 episode) regarding the efforts to heighten publicity surrounding the so-called “November Nine.”

You’ll recall that Palansky claimed on Wise’s show that one of the nine players had been offered a chance to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, while another had been given an opportunity to appear on Ellen, the daytime talk show hosted by Ellen Degeneres. According to Palansky, both players turned down these offers.

In my post I was critical of Palansky’s decision to “break” such news on Wise’s show, as well as of the many strange assumptions he subsequently made about the players’ responsibilities when it came to marketing the WSOP. I did not outwardly doubt the validity of the claim, though I did imply that it sounded a bit far-fetched, and so left that as an unresolved question.

Incidentally, I also posted over on Pokerati a brief summary of what Palansky said on Wise’s show, again not claiming to affirm or deny the validity of Palansky’s claim, but merely passing along what was said on Wise’s podcast.

Anyhow, after a month hiatus, PokerRoad Radio came back on the air this week with shows from the Five Diamond WPT Classic going on at the Bellagio. On the 12/13 episode (with guest Annie Duke), host Ali Nejad belatedly reported the story Palansky told on Wise’s show.

Nejad’s co-hosts expressed skepticism of the truth of Palansky’s story, with Gavin Smith in particular saying he “called bullsh!t.” “I don’t believe it happened,” said Smith. “Are we saying that Seth [Palansky] is trying to cover [himself] or the WSOP?” asked Sebok. “I don’t see any other way around it,” answered Smith.

Then, on the 12/14 episode (with guest Greg Raymer), the hosts again discussed for a minute or so an email that Joe Sebok had received from an “unnamed source” on the subject. This email, from a “person in poker,” explained to Sebok “that what [Smith] said was correct, yesterday,” namely, that “some of the people that supposedly were invited to these media tours actually were not invited.” Sebok added that the message “even took it a step further by saying that -- I don’t know if it was the World Series of Poker or Seth Palansky in particular -- had... scheduled this media tour through New York to go on all of these shows, but then... at the last second, the shows cancelled.”

In other words, it was not the players who bailed, but the shows. Sebok concludes by characterizing the incident as “a little egg on the face” for the WSOP who subsequently appears to have tried “to cover their own ass” via the story about players refusing to go on Leno or Degeneres.

As I implied in the earlier post, I think there’s a lot to criticize regardless of whether the story of the invites was truthful, a fiction, or somewhere in between. Does seem, though, that we didn’t exactly have a situation where, say, chip leader Dennis Phillips was asked to be on The Tonight Show and he turned Leno down.

Which would make it all the more odd (and uncool) for anyone to suggest that might have been what happened.

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