This was the month I got involved with live blogging the World Championship of Online Poker for PokerStars. Made for an especially busy two-and-a-half weeks or so (I was essentially working two full-time jobs during that stretch). Was fun and satisfying, though, and I’m glad to say I’ve been able to do a few other writing gigs for Stars here and there since then.
As was the case during the summer with PokerNews, the WCOOP job again found me working with some terrific colleagues, making it all the more enjoyable. Looking back, I see there were a few WCOOP-related posts peppered in there during September, my favorite probably being Deal and Shuffle Up (9/17) in which I recounted some not-so-smooth negotiations at the end of one of the events when the players were trying to figure out a chop.
September was also the month of the first-ever PokerListings’ Run Good Challenge in which yr humble gumshoe run good and, as it happened, done good. In the first event, I bubbled, finishing fourth. You can guess my bustout hand in the title of the post chronicling that one: In Which It Is Demonstrated Why Jacks Are Sometimes Called “Hooks” (9/8). Came runner-up in Event 2 -- Lucky Man (9/15) -- then managed to take down the third one -- Running Good: Ace-Trey = 1st in Event 3 (9/22). That qualified me for the final where I finished fourth behind Amy Calistri (3rd), Michele Lewis (2nd), and Change100 (1st). The story of the final is told in Ladies Night: PokerListings Grand Finale (9/27).
Fired a few “shots in the dark” in September. In one, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (9/9), I speculated about what it would be like to play poker against an earlier version of oneself. In the other, Listening (9/12), an excerpt from Eudora Welty’s autobiography inspired a brief meditation on paying attention to others (and oneself).
There was yet another bill proposed in Congress, which I wrote about in First Step for H.R. 6870, the Payments System Protection Act of 2008 (9/19). If yr really interested in looking back over all the legislative posts on HBP from the year, you can click on the category “law” to access those posts. Or check out a post in early October (mentioned again below) that collects all the different UIGEA-challenging bills. Click through on the 9/19 post, though, if you wanna see the cool “I’m just a bill” Schoolhouse Rocks clip again.
Late in the month, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear made that move to try to block 141 online gambling sites from his state, something I wrote about in Kentucky Gov. Wants to Block Online Gambling Sites: Does He Have a Hand? (9/24) and again in Running on Empty (9/26). He’d get there, actually, although that one is now in limbo on appeal.
Finally, I revisited the issue of the poker media and its role -- well, specifically, Card Player magazine -- in a post titled On Poker Mags (Redux) (9/29). There I get on the magazine’s case a bit for what seemed an insincere explanation for their having whitewashed the Scotty Nguyen $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. fiasco.
On the last day of September, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission delivered a presser that stated 1994 WSOP Main Event champion Russ Hamilton was “the main person responsible for and benefiting from the multiple cheating incidents.” Wrote about that a bit in Hamilton, UltimateBet, & the WSOP (10/1).
As stated above, Bill Collector: Senator Introduces Internet Skill Game Licensing and Control Act of 2008 (S. 3616) (10/6) summarizes all them UIGEA-opposing bills in one handy place. And while we’re on the subject, The Terrible Twos for the UIGEA (10/13) uses the occasion of the second anniversary of Bush’s signing the UIGEA into law for some “big picture”-type speculatin’.
Along with all of youse, I was still watching the WSOP on ESPN in October (and still waiting for that dadgummed final table to play out). Wrote one post mid-month about that, One (More) Time: Reliving My Last Day Reporting on the 2008 WSOP (10/15). A few days later I complained a little about the fact that we were all Still Waiting (for the WSOP Main Event final table) (10/21).
Reported on Kentucky Governor Beshear’s surprising success in that suit against the online gambling sites in Kentucky Takes It Down (10/16), then cheekily reflected on it a little more in Chance, Though Not the Only Element of the Franklin Circuit Court, Is the Element Which Defines Its Essence (10/17), although that latter post is really more about my not-so-hot showing in the LeTune Challenge.
Living to Work, Working to Live (10/23) was another “shot in the dark” inspired by a famous essay by the mystery writer Dorothy Sayers. The essay isn’t about poker -- it’s about work and its place in our lives -- but I tried there to apply some of her ideas to poker.
The month concluded with a real treat, The Hard-Boiled Poker Interview: Dennis Phillips (10/29). Had a very enjoyable 20-minute phone conversation with the then chip-leader of the WSOP Main Event, just about all of which is written up there in the post.
Month began with rumblings that the U.S. Treasury Dept. might try to finalize those UIGEA regs soon, as in before the Bush administration had moved out. Shared that rumor in U.S. Treasury Dept. to Finalize UIGEA Regs in November? (11/1). About ten days later, the rumor became fact, and I wrote about the long and winding road that got us to that point in Endgame: UIGEA Regs Finalized (11/12). Some are saying this doesn’t mean all that much in a practical sense, and in fact the Obama administration could come in and quickly undo all sorts of things done here at the end of the Bush regime, including the UIGEA. Still uneasy about the whole mess, though.
The WSOP Main Event was finally completed. I wrote one post analyzing the nine players -- 2008 WSOP Main Event Final Table Resumes Tomorrow (11/8). I also wrote a few more posts in there about the goings-on as the FT played out, though I’ll just point to one reflecting once again on the decision to delay the sucker, Was It Good for You? (On the WSOP ME Final Table Delay) (11/11).
A post titled Getting Down to the Nuts & Bolts (11/19) actually brings together a number of different issues/concerns. There I tell about a discussion I had with a non-poker-playing work colleague regarding the UIGEA, which then leads to some thoughts about how many people view poker and/or gambling. The origin of the phrase “the nuts” is also explained in this post.
Harrah’s Sports and Entertainment Director of Communications Seth Palansky stated on Gary Wise’s podcast in November that two of the “November Nine” had been offered guest spots on major network talk shows (The Tonight Show & Ellen), and both had turned down the opportunities. Story kind of fishy, actually. In any event, in The Secret Struggle of the Starmaker (on Marketing the 2008 WSOP Main Event final table) (11/21) I reflected on Palansky’s claim.
As always, there were a few posts about my own play (“on the street”) scattered here and there. And Bingo Was My Name-O (11/6) shared a funny anecdote from the online tables (involving some chatbox hilarity). Also, the second Run Good Challenge cranked up near the end of the month, and I told about my non-cash in the first event -- as well as what happened after I busted -- in LOL Shrinkaments (Run Good Challenge 2 Underway) (11/24).
60 Minutes finally aired its report on the Absolute Poker/UltimateBet insider cheating scandals on the last day of November, so we were all buzzing about that as December began. I started the month writing a couple of posts responding to the segment: On 60 Minutes’ “The Cheaters” (12/1) & More on 60 Minutes “The Cheaters” (12/2).
Then I wrote a response to Mason Malmuth’s strange commentary on the Two Plus Two Pokercast that, as far as he was concerned, the most important issue brought up by the segment was Todd “Dan Druff” Witteles’ prominence in the piece potentially bringing inordinate attention to the NeverWin Poker website. Kind of a weird, narrow-minded response (I thought) that utterly failed to appreciate what was genuinely significant about the report. In any event, judging from all of the comments, my post Silver Lining? (12/3) certainly appeared to stir the pot a bit.
Got my calendar screwed up and missed the second event of Run Good Challenge 2. Made the third one. Didn’t cash, but wrote it up nonetheless in Run Good Challenge 2: Breakin’ It Down (12/8).
A rumor surfaced in December that the WSOP was thinking of doing away with rebuy tournaments. In Rebuy! (12/11), I explained why I oppose such a move.
In This Book Might Be Out of Your Range (12/13), I tell about a new eBook that has just come out, a poker strategy text by Cole South and Tri Nguyen, for which the authors are charging a whopping $1,850. I am not making this up.
The Ultimate UltimateBet Post (12/16) falsely claimed to be the last UB-related post I would write for a while. There you’ll find me linking back to all of the other UB posts from the past year. Of course, I’d have to write about UB again later in the month after UB-spokesman Phil Hellmuth was shipped the pot in a game of heads-up LHE on the site in which he held the worst hand! See Honey, I Was Supposed to Lose That Hand! (12/20) & Ultimate Coincidence (12/22) for more.
PartyPoker co-owner Anurag Dikshit surprisingly pleaded guilty to violating the 1961 Wire Act, essentially helping create the groundwork for a precedent suggesting online poker is, in fact, made illegal by the old law. Not cool. I wonder about the man’s motives in Can Someone Explain Dikshit to Me? (12/17).
I’ll wrap this up with reference to a book review of Tommy Angelo’s Elements of Poker (12/26) which I finally got around to reading here at year’s end. Angelo’s book was published in December 2007, so didn’t make my little catalogue of poker books from 2008. Have to say I recommend Angelo’s book before all of those, though. Particularly to readers of this blog, I’d think.
Speaking of, thanks again, everyone, for helping make for a terrific 2008!