Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2010 WSOP, Day 33: Games People Play

Was off yesterday, and spent the day doing a lot of nothing. Slept off and on all day. Still feel a little tired this morning, but I know once I return to the Rio this afternoon, I’ll be fully charged and ready to go.

I mean, it is the World Series of Poker.

During my waking hours yesterday, I did check in on PokerNews’ live reporting now and then. Was in particular following that Event No. 47 (the $1,000 no-limit hold’em event), the final table for which I’ll be helping cover later today. Early reports were they were going to play that one all of the way through yesterday (in which case I might possibly have had a second day off), but by early evening they changed that plan.

Followed some of the silliness on Twitter yesterday, including Barry Greenstein’s accidental tweeting of direct messages in which he broadcasted to the world details of how much he’s stuck this summer and backing arrangements. (Dr. Pauly fills in a few details on that one, if yr curious.)

Speaking of Twitter, I also noticed that Daniel Negreanu had the day off yesterday, too, and that he spent some of his day firing off tweets about Rocky movies and (once again) chip counts.

Negreanu also found time to write a blog post yesterday, at the end of which he comments briefly about “the whole twitter thing.” He concludes by noting that “Drama Queens often use twitter to. . . well, create some drama!” and adds that some of the ways Twitter is used “can be destructive or just a plain waste of time.”

Kid Poker more insightful there than he realizes, I think.

I additionally had some time yesterday to catch up on some blog reading. Among the items I read was Bill Rini’s piece from a couple of weeks ago titled “What the World Series of Poker Means to Me” in which he criticizes how the Series is set up and covered.

Rini begins by characterizing the WSOP as a whole as “contrived” and suggesting those here reporting on it are “all trying to make something out of what is usually nothing.” “The vast majority of events during the WSOP are barely even newsworthy,” he continues, then fills out the rest of the piece with a catalogue of “predictable outcomes” (i.e., articles) one often finds coming out of the Rio this time of year.

Rini brings up some good points about how the Series has too many events and thus tends to yield a lot of redundant-seeming reporting that lacks true inspiration. I don’t perfectly agree with all of the gripes that appear in his catalogue, but I think I understand where he’s coming from with each.

The WSOP is too long. Punishingly so, for all involved. As Tom Schneider told me last year, “It's like flying to Australia every day. Only when you get there you're at the Rio. Again.” And sure, there’s a lot that is wrong with the “system” (as Rini puts it) in which those of us reporting on it find ourselves forced to operate.

But really, can’t we just enjoy it a little bit? Why must the WSOP constantly be surrounded by so much negativity and criticism -- about seemingly everything?

Today I will be watching and reporting on nine players who entered a $1,000 buy-in poker tournament. These nine survived a total field of 3,128, and now the winner will earn almost half a million dollars. A couple of the players are known by some in poker, but for the most part all are relatively obscure figures. In the grand scheme of things, anyway.

Will it be “newsworthy”? I happen to think so. But I realize many -- even those who love poker and invest a lot of time and energy thinking about what the WSOP means to them -- might not feel the same way.

But so what? It’s a game, and games are fun. And poker is especially fun, a kind of game that allows for the expression of personality, for narratives to develop, for surprise and suspense, for all sorts of outcomes that are anything but predictable.

So back I go. Yeah, I’ve seen other tourneys, other final tables. But I want to see how this one turns out.

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