Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hard-Boiled Poker 2009 Year in Review (3 of 3)

We are almost there. The last day of the year. How are things stacking up for you, in terms of your win/loss total for 2009? Don’t do anything silly today to try and manipulate it into something you like better.

Me? I might play a little today, but I have a lot of other writing to do, including finishing this here recap. Following Part 1 (Jan.-Apr.) and Part 2 (May-Aug.), here’s the rest of the story:


I Get Up, I Get DownIn UIGEA news, a lawsuit brought by the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA) that challenged the law’s constitutionality was dismissed. This story was strangely spun by many (in particular, iMEGA) as good news because in rejecting the case the 3rd Circuit District Court made reference to the fact that individual states get to say what is and what is not unlawful internet gambling.

Fact was, this distinction had been noted in the UIGEA all along (i.e., this new case didn’t really change anything on that front), something I pointed out in “iMEGA Suit Claiming Unconstitutionality of UIGEA Dismissed.”

During the first part of September I was occupied with helping cover PokerStars’ World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), and so there were a few posts this month reporting various happenings there. In the last one of those posts, I was inspired to comment on the repeat successes of guys like Daniel “djk123” Kelly, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, and Yevgeniy “Jovial Gent” Timoshenko in “PokerStars WCOOP Concludes: It’s a Skill Game, Jo.”

Was watching the U.S. Open in there, too, and in “Matching Up Poker and Tennis” I attempt to draw an analogy that addresses the old luck-vs.-skill debate in poker. “The Poker Hall of Fame: Will Anyone Be Worthy?” notes how the new voting procedure appeared to guarantee that either no one or just one person would get in this year. And “When Winners Lose, and Losers Win” relates the story of that wild hand at EPT Barcelona between Tobias Reinkemeier and Roland de Wolfe in which de Wolfe mucked a winner.

As far as my own play was going, I was running good in August and early September, partly evidenced by “Shovels, Clovers, Valentines, and Squares” in which I tell about flopping a straight flush. Then hit a bad patch, some details of which I shared in “I Get Up, I Get Down.” I also see that I began and ended the month with a couple of posts about stack sizes in PLO: “Topping Off” and “Don’t Want No Short People ’Round Here?

September also saw the Kahnawake Gaming Commission issue its so-called “final decision” on the UB insider cheating scandal, which I talked some about in “Final Decision on UltimateBet: None of My Business.” And, as you’ll recall, soon after came “The Sebok Surprise” in which the well-liked pro signed on with the beleaguered site.


The balloon we thought was carrying a boyThe month began with the conclusion of the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event, in which Barry Shulman enjoyed a couple of fortunate hands against Daniel Negreanu heads up to take it down. Talk about that some in “End of Story: 2009 WSOPE Main Event Concludes.”

Then our attention gradually turned toward Vegas and the upcoming conclusion of the WSOP Main Event. On October 7 I noted there was just “One Month Left to Hype the November Nine.” I think Harrah’s, ESPN, et al. ended up doing okay during those next few weeks to get us all (and others) interested in the sucker come November. Case in point, a week later in “That’s the Way We Do It” I admit how I was starting really to get into the ESPN broadcasts of the Main Event. And near the end of October I was marveling with everyone else at that hand in which Phil Ivey mistakenly mucked his flush, giving Jordan Smith an undeserved pot in “Not Exactly Ivey League.”

These posts from October all have self-explanatory titles, I think: “PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge Debuts,” “The Poker Hall of Fame: Sexton Selected,” and “Kentucky Still Hoping to Be Master of Your Domains.” Well, maybe I should explain that last one. Had to do with the still-ongoing appeal of the appeal, now being considered by Kentucky’s Supreme Court, in that case regarding the commonwealth’s desire to block or seize domains hosting online gambling sites.

Then there are some posts in there with titles that definitely need explainin’. “Playing As If Your Life Depended On It” made references to both Tommy Angelo and The Seventh Seal. “Up, Up, and Away!” concerns our friend “balloon boy” (remember him?). And “Call and Response” does a little theorizin’ about the significance of blogs, Twitter, and how we use this here interweb to relate to each other.

Early in the month I made it to the movies to see a decent comedy called The Invention of Lying. I reviewed that one over on Film Chaw, then wrote about it here, too, in “First, the Invention of Lying; then, the Invention of Poker.” That post caused me to evoke James McManus’ new book (which I was reading at the time), Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker. I’d eventually review it here in “A Good Read: McManus Tells the Story of Poker.” Soon I’d additionally get the chance to review Cowboys Full more formally over on the Betfair site, where I’d also interview McManus.


WSOP Main Event final table, heads upFirst half of November was all about the WSOP Main Event final table. Exciting stuff, I’d say.

In “Post-Production is 20/20” I talked some more about Ivey’s mistake versus Jordan Smith, including sharing Barry Greenstein’s thoughts on the matter. Then in “Kopp Busted!” I talked about seeing ESPN’s coverage of another crazy hand, the one in which Billy Kopp lost it all to Darvin Moon with just a dozen players left.

Then we finally got there. In “2009 November Nine Just Hours Away... Time for Special Tactics!” I talked a bit about Phil Hellmuth saying he’d coached Jeff Shulman to employ a “special tactic” to “shock the world.” Then I gave an overview of the nine players at the final table in “2009 WSOP Main Event Final Table: Welcome Back, November Nine.”

Discussed that bizarro Hand No. 90 in which Darvin Moon made the big bluff then folded for next-to-nothing to Steve Begleiter in “Moon Begs the Question... WTF?” Wrote about the heads-up match a bit in “Comeback Kid Cada 2009 WSOP Main Event Champ,” then a few days later offered “Kudos to Cada: WSOP Champ on Letterman.” A final November Nine post, “Looking Back: 2009 WSOP November Nine on ESPN,” includes a list of the 32 (of 364) final table hands that made it into the two-and-a-half hour long ESPN broadcast.

You’ll recall it was just a few days later we learned “Pollack Moves On, WSOP Commish Seat Open.” Harrah’s still hasn’t filled that seat, and toward the end of the month I asked “Does the WSOP Need a Commish?

Let’s see... the weird-ass juxtaposition of the month award goes to the post “The Sklansky Minute and John Cage’s Indeterminacy.” (See that one for yourself, if yr curious.) And “$1,356,946.50” relates how I happened to have been railing Isidur1 and Patrik Antonius when I saw them play the biggest pot in online poker history.

As the month concluded, we American online poker players were all fretting about the upcoming December 1 deadline for enforcement of the UIGEA. I wrote “The Door is Closing: Hoping for UIGEA Delay,” then the next day (Thanksgiving) got to say “Thankful, I Am” as we’d heard that indeed there’d be a six-month postponement of the deadline.


Full Tilt: Admit OneMonth began with that House hearing on online gambling, discussed in “Talking Online Poker: House Hearing Today.” Then everybody put the subject on hold. ’Cos, you know, there was shopping to do. Oh, and that health care thing.

Read a couple more poker books near year’s end, both autobiographies. I’d review Doyle Brunson’s The Godfather of Poker over at Betfair, but also wrote a piece here -- “Doyle Brunson’s Confessions” -- in which I talked about how the book reminded me more than once of St. Augustine’s autobiography. (Not saying Doyle’s a saint, haha!) I also wrote here a “Poker Book Review: Victoria Coren’s For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker” -- a funny, even “literary” book I’d think should appeal to any poker player who likes good storytelling.

Opined a bit on Scott Huff and Joe Sebok’s new Fox Sports show in “Poker2Nite Brings Poker to the World.” The post “Speaking of Poker: What You Can and Cannot Say, Part II” is also about their show, revisiting an old topic regarding the conflict between online poker sponsorships and television.

Mid-month saw the “2010 WSOP Schedule Announced,” inspiring a bit of photshopping (see below). In much less significant news, I finally got response to my repeated requests to UltimateBet which I related in “The Rest of the Story (UB Hand Histories).”

Of course, the big poker story in December was the ongoing Isildur1 saga, and I wrote about it a few times here.

Out of This World: The Isildur1 Saga Continues” discusses Patrik Antonius’s interview with Phil Gordon about the mystery man while also pointing to some other stories then swirling about. In “Loving Life, Defying Death” I talked about railing Isildur1 a bit while also referring back to Doyle Brunson’s book (and the weird, repeated joke of some railbirds prematurely announcing Texas Dolly’s death). “Digging for Gold (Mining Isildur1)” took up the new controversy regarding the CardRunners guys’ collecting info about the sneaky Swede. Then came PokerNews’ interview with Isildur1 in which revealed he planned to pursue a “formal complaint.” I suggested “Grab Your Popcorn (Isildur1 v. Full Tilt).”

2010: The Year We Make ContactSo that’s what’s been happenin’ here. No telling at the moment what 2010 will be like for yr humble gumshoe, but I imagine continuing to scribble away here will most definitely be part of the plan.

Big thanks again to everyone for coming around here and for all of the nice feedback. Be sure and make contact again in 2010. Have a safe and happy new year, all!

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