Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hard-Boiled Poker Year in Review (2 of 3)

Happy 2009, all. Everyone feeling chipper this morning? Continuing on with the recap today, this time looking at May-August.


2008 WSOP ME Final Table Rescheduled to NovemberAs the month began, we all heard the news -- 2008 WSOP ME Final Table Rescheduled to November (5/1), an announcement which prompted me to draw an analogy with Luigi Pirandello’s famous experimental play in a post titled Nine Players In Search of a Final Table (5/1).

The announcement also inspired a brief history of the World Series of Poker and its marketing, The WSOP Main Event: Birth, Build Up, Boom . . . Bastardized? (5/5). In kind of the same vein, a week later I wrote another editorial of sorts talking more broadly about television and game shows, Television & Poker; or, the Search for a Happy Medium (5/12). Perhaps one of the few poker blog posts this year in which Marshall McLuhan comes up.

When the WSOPE schedule was announced later in May, I noticed that the WSOPE Will Take Place Before WSOP Is Over (5/23). I’d discover later that Harrah’s/WSOP hadn’t really considered that fact at all when they decided on the final table delay.

Early in the month I asked Is PLO the “Game of the Future”? (5/6). It was certainly the game of my (immediate) future, as pot-limit Omaha did end up being my primary game for 2008. However, earlier in the year I was playing a lot of stud games, too, and chronicled one “crazy ass Stud/8 hand” in Seven Dwarfs & Seventy-One Big Bets (5/14).

The UltimateBet story continued to develop in May, as evidenced by a few posts: Report on UltimateBet Cheating “Scheme” Due Soon (5/6); Multiple “Super-Users” Cheated On UltimateBet (5/16); UltimateBet Cheating Scandal Finally “News” (Sort of) (5/23); and UB Owns Up (Sort of) (5/30). Check out those parenthetical qualifiers in the latter two titles. “Sort of” indicates a trend when it comes to news about UB, wouldn’t you say?

Just before taking off to Vegas to help cover the WSOP for PokerNews, I wrote my three-part series on “Sartre’s Gambler” in which I examined that short passage in Being and Nothingness in which Sartre uses a gambler as an example to illustrate a point about existentialism: (Part One, Part Two, & Part Three [all 5/20]).

Finally, the month concluded with my flying out and getting settled for seven weeks of poker reporting. The job officially began in early June, but I did head over to the Rio early on and did a day’s worth of live blogging to get my feet wet: 2008 WSOP, Day 2: Live from the Rio (5/31).

Pretty soon, though, I’d be in up to my ears!


On Covering the WSOPI’ve mentioned before here how going out to Vegas to help cover the WSOP was one of those life detours I hadn’t seen coming (even six months before). The experience turned out to be incredibly satisfying and rewarding. I learned a lot, and also had the privilege of working with a number of terrific people. We were a team out there, and I’m proud to have had the chance to have served as a capable role-player.

I posted every day in June, sometimes more than once per day, producing something around 36,000 words here on the blog (in addition to the thousands I wrote while live blogging over at PokerNews). Pretty sure that’s the most prolific month I’ve ever had, writing-wise. Certainly the busiest on HBP.

I’m glad now to have this comprehensive journal of my WSOP experience, enabling me to read and relive it all. Kind of hard to pick out certain posts to highlight here, but I’ll just list a few:

2008 WSOP, Day 4: Into the Fire (6/3) tells of my somewhat nervous first day on the job. By the next day -- 2008 WSOP, Day 5: Storytelling -- I was already starting to get a little more comfortable with the machinations of live blogging and trying to be creative on-the-fly.

Skipping ahead a bit, 2008 WSOP, Day 12: Buffets, Bustouts, and Bullsh*t (6/11) is a fairly representative “day in the life”-type post that chronicles the craziness. Soon after came a post telling of the conclusion of what was probably the most memorable tourney of the entire WSOP for me, 2008 WSOP, Day 14: Reporting from the Eye of the Hurricane (6/13). That was the one where I related what it was like helping report the final table of Event No. 19, the $1,500 Pot-Limit Omaha event won by Vanessa Selbst. In which runner-up Jamie Pickering, the Aussie strip club owner, began downing drinks and repeatedly raising pot without looking at his cards. No shinola!

2008 WSOP, Day 17: Laughs & Lightning Bolts
(6/16) shares a couple of grins from behind the scenes. Later that night/next morning -- in 2008 WSOP, Day 17: Brasilia (6/16) -- I was telling about what it was like to cover a tournament that had gotten down the last couple of tables, with six of the remaining players being Chris Ferguson, Daniel Negreanu, David Benyamine, John Juanda, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth.

Found enough respite in there to write a reflective post On Covering the WSOP (6/19). Then it was back to the grind.

2008 WSOP, Day 21: Tigers & Grizzlies (6/20) shares some rib-tickling table talk between Layne Flack and Ted Forrest. In 2008 WSOP, Day 25: More Clichés Than You Can Shake a Stick At (6/23), F-Train and I have a contest to see who can induce the most groans via the written word. And 2008 WSOP, Day 26: Cowboy Hats, Cigars, and Draw Poker (6/24) actually finds me reporting from the bathroom stalls in the Rio, Dr. Pauly-style. As I say there, I’m tempted to make a joke about the good Doctor having marked his territory.

Finally, I’ll point you to the last post of the month, 2008 WSOP, Day 31: Tell Everyone You Know and Duplicate (6/30), in which I prove sheer dominance in the field of pun-making, as well as relate a hilarious anecdote about poker player-slash-entrepreneur Tommy Vu.


Playing Poker & Writing About PokerContinuing with selections from my time at the WSOP, 2008 WSOP, Day 34: Three Tales (7/2) offers a nice bit of journalistic reflection, I think, recording various observations from Event No. 46, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event.

The Main Event then began on the 3rd. I was reporting up through Day 5 of the Main Event (the 12th, I believe). 2008 WSOP, Day 37: Pop Stars, Sexual Puns, and Magic Swords (7/6) is a fun post relating a variety of shenanigans from one of the Day Ones.

Then, on the day off between the Day Ones and Day Twos, the PokerNews staff had a blast playing soccer, basketball, and a freeroll -- plus attending a PokerStars-hosted party at the Palms -- all discussed in 2008 WSOP, Day 39: Taking Shots (7/8). That was a helluva fun day for me. I cashed in the freeroll. We won the b-ball game. And I managed to sink a fifty-foot shot, scoring another prop bet bonus.

In 2008 WSOP, Day 41: Chuck Norris Doesn’t Dodge Bullets; Bullets Dodge Chuck Norris (7/10), I’m telling about reporting on a player named Chuck Norris. Not the Chuck Norris. But that was his name. And, as you can imagine, fun was had. Then 2008 WSOP, Day 44: IGHN (7/13) concerns my last day reporting, relating some of the emotions I was experiencing there at the end. It was tough to be away from home for that long. But it was also tough to leave.

Once I was back home, I was reflecting on it all again in Playing Poker & Writing About Poker (7/21). I also picked up an old copy of Gambling Times as a kind of comparative exercise shared John Hill’s Reporting on the 1979 WSOP (7/24). Mr. Hill actually came around and left a nice comment on that post just the other day, in fact.

Meanwhile, the UltimateBet scandal was back on the radar, in On the Horizon: The Future of UltimateBet? (7/23) & UB & AP Think Makeover Gives Them a Do-Over (7/25). Where it would pretty much remain for the rest of the year.


Reality TVAs the summer progressed, I was watching the WSOP on ESPN, catching glimpses of myself and my buds in the background, an uncanny experience discussed in Reality TV (8/6). The next day, I wrote a post that has been one of the most-hit on the blog this year, one called The Most Popular Table In Online Poker (8/7). That’s the one where I tell about that table on Full Tilt Poker with the seemingly-permanent 250-person waiting list.

Perspectives on Poker (8/8) relates five different anecdotes, all of which add up to yet another lesson in understanding poker’s (modest) place in the larger culture. Along the same lines, I wrote a two-parter, “Poker & Pop Culture: Rolling Stone (1967-2007)” (Part One [8/11] & Part Two [8/12]), which looks at all of the references to poker in Rolling Stone magazine during its first forty years.

Whenever I post about Mason Malmuth, I always tend to get a lot of response. Such was the case with A Sticky Issue (8/14), in which I discussed the Two Plus Two owner’s apparent paranoia regarding the free sharing of strategy content on his website. Comments rose into the double-digits on that one.

Had a decent strategy-type post in there that also looked back at the WSOP a bit called Thriving vs. Surviving: John Phan & David Sklansky at the 2008 WSOP, Event No. 40 Final Table (8/19). There I applied some of what I had been reading in Arnold Snyder’s books to what I saw happening at that particular Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw final table (won by Phan).

“It’s No Fun When Scotty Got the Gun” (8/22) was my take on the Scotty Nguyen $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. final table fiasco, as presented by ESPN. The post titled The Chicken or the Egg (8/27) is kind of a follow-up that considers whether poker makes us crazy, or because we’re crazy we play poker.

One more recap post to go, then we can all get on with our lives.

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Anonymous PB said...

Hiya -

Since I just found your blog (I usually stick to hockey or politics - just recently, I've been reading poker blogs), the recap you are doing is very cool.

For 2009? Put work on the back burner and continue reading good writing. :-)

1/01/2009 12:25 PM  
Anonymous custom poker tables said...

Thanks for sharing the links. Those would really be helpful specially the books containing tips. Keep posting!

1/03/2009 9:05 AM  

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