Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hard-Boiled Poker 2010 Year in Review (2 of 3)

'Spicy Detective' magazine, July 1937All right. Let’s get back on the road here, why don’t we? Time’s running out on 2010, and we’re not even halfway there.

Yesterday I recapped the first four months of the past year of Hard-Boiled Poker. Today we’ll drive through August, a trip that will carry us through Las Vegas and the World Series of Poker, as well as south of the equator for a week in Lima, Peru to join the Latin American Poker Tour.

If we make good time today, then tomorrow we should finally get where we’re going, I imagine. That’s barring any unforeseen detours.

Which’ll come up now and then, dontcha know.


'Iambic Pentameter Is Not As Easy As It Looks' (5/5/10)May began with me finally quitting the day job, an event noted in brief in “The Brain Kept a-Rollin’ All Night Long.” I reflected a bit further on the situation in “‘What do you do?’” -- the title of which alludes to that question we’re often asked, especially when first meeting someone.

The first part of the month my attention was mostly taken up with PokerStars’ Spring Championship of Online Poker series. Then the focus turned to the WSOP.

Had a number of SCOOP-related posts. “On Deal-Making; or, Everybody Wants a SCOOP” compares the relative smoothness of deals I saw being made at both a high-stakes buy-in event and a low-stakes one. “Iambic Pentamenter Is Not As Easy As It Looks” shows me translating one of the events’ final tables into couplets. And “Draw Poker Drama” shares the story of a nearly-monumental misclick by a player while heads-up.

Team PokerStars Pro Pat Pezzin went deep in a SCOOP draw event, and after watching Pat standing pat I wrote a post titled “Is Punning a Vice, or Vice-Versa?” Then in “Talkin’ Tourneys” I relate how I actually scored a seat in the “low” version of the SCOOP Main Event -- satelliting my way in for just three bucks! -- but didn’t manage to cash in the big one.

Moving into the latter half of May, the WSOP began to occupy us all. Prior to heading out to Vegas, I had an idea to host a “WSOP Bloggers Roundtable” over on Betfair Poker, inviting a dozen blogger/reporters who’d covered the WSOP in the past to discuss their experiences and talk about the upcoming series (details here).

Then came my trip out. Was given a nifty pair of noise-canceling headphones for the plane ride by Vera, her mom, and my mom, which inspired “Canceling Out the Noise.” Once established at the home-away-from-home I got an early “Wake-Up Call,” then got to enjoy some “Fun and Games” over at the Doyle Brunson Beer Pong Invitational III before work began in earnest.

In “Day 1: Exile on Hotel Rio Drive” I chat with Benjo about the Rolling Stones’ best album. In “Day 2: The Grand Games” I opine about all of those $1K buy-in, no-limit hold’em events. And in “Day 3: Groundhog Day” I discuss covering events with multiple Day Ones.


2010 WSOP, Day 17: Ladies Event Final Table (6/14/10)Speaking of detours, after just a few days at the WSOP I took a big one, traveling from Las Vegas to Lima, Peru where I spent a week helping Otis cover the LAPT event there for the PokerStars blog. Was a fantastic trip, chronicled here in travel reports: Arrival, Pregame, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Departure.

A coupla weird coincidences occurred there in Lima. One was the winner of the Main Event, Jose “Nacho” Barbero of Argentina, just happened to have won the previous LAPT event, too, in Punta del Este.

The other coincidence was decidedly more grim. Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the murder of U.S. teenager Natalee Hollaway in Aruba back in 2005, apparently killed another woman right there in Lima just a couple of days before we arrived -- on May 30th, in fact, the five-year anniversary of Hollaway’s disappearance. He fled to Chile, where he was promptly arrested.

Back in Vegas, I recapped my week away in “Days 4-11: Catching Up,” then began filing daily reports. I’ll just pick out a few of the posts to mention here, but if you click here you can see a compilation of all 44 of those posts (including summaries).

Day 12: Rejoining the Spectacle” tells how Shannon Elizabeth tweeted a picture of me. (Well, perhaps not of me, specifically....) “Day 13: The Real Tournament of Champions?” marvels at the field in the $10K 2-7 NL Draw Championship. And “Day 16: On Covering the Ladies Event” and “Day 17: Ladies Event Final Table” describe my experience covering Days 2 and 3 of the Ladies Event. I hadn’t been there for the first day of that event when a handful of men decided to play, causing a mighty ruckus. But I’d certainly heard a lot about it, and was very conscious of the many related issues being debated as a result.

In “Day 19: The Day One Debate” I discuss the relative merits of fussing over the reporting of chip counts on the first day of a multi-day event. In “Day 23: The Act You’ve Known For All These Years” I tell how Vera and I got to see Cheap Trick’s “Sgt. Pepper” show. And in “Day 26: Observing Obrestad” I talk about finally getting to cover the Norwegian phenom in a live event.

In “Day 29: Fun and Games,” an impromptu game of paper toss in the media box gives Benjo a chance to tell me my balls are too small. “Day 30: “‘You’re Winning This One’” tells of Gavin Smith’s bracelet win, foreseen a day earlier by FlipChip. And in “Day 32: The Grand Games, Part 2,” I revisit that discussion of the $1K events, lengthily reflecting on their significance as well as the many interesting stories that emerged in the one I was then covering (Event No. 47).


'2010 WSOP, Day : The Long Walk' (7/15/10)Continuing with the WSOP, “Day 35: In Person” tells about meeting and reporting on neat people like Kara Scott, Jena Delk, and Mike Johnson -- folks I’d known before but hadn’t met face-to-face. “Day 36: On the Schneid” recounts a dinner with 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider in which he shared some insights about the long grind that is the Series. And “Day 39: From Where I’m Sitting” gets into some of the issues regarding media access and restrictions on such, issues which were starting to heat up as the Main Event was getting under way.

Speaking of the Main Event, “Day 42: Day 1d Anecdotes” shares a handful of stories from early in the tourney. “Day 43: Following the Action” tells of a weird hand involving Chris Moneymaker and Bryan Pellegrino (with the latter commenting on the post). Then “Day 44: The Return of the World Poker Tour” reports from a press conference at the Bellagio where I got to meet Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, and a few other folks with whom you might be familiar.

Out of 130 entrants, I somehow made it all of the way to finishing third in the WSOP Media Event this year. I celebrated by going to see Snoop Dogg, ’cos that’s how I roll. Read about it in “Day 45: Tournies & Trophies, Gin & Juice.”

Day 46: The Odd Couple” talks about Robert Varkonyi and Vanessa Selbst, two very different players seated next to one another on Day 3 of the Main Event. “Day 48: The Long Walk” recalls that old Stephen King novel (written as Richard Bachman), drawing a comparison between its story and the WSOP Main Event. Then on Day 49 things really start to get “Intense,” on Day 50 we were “Almost There,” and on Day 51 we’d finally reached “The End.”

Back home again, I refocused on legislative issues in “Oh, Right... the UIGEA,” then again in “House Financial Services Committee Passes H.R. 2267.” I also took a couple of “shots in the dark” with a post about “Competence in Poker,” then another titled “Time Isn’t Holding Us, Time Isn’t After Us.”

That latter one -- evoking the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” -- is another self-reflective post about how we all make our meanings as we drive along through this life. Speaking of, let’s continue our ride through summer and into...


'The Hottest Band in the World (Sort of)' (8/16/10)Early in August came a post called “Dam Bluffers” in which I relate a funny story from the online tables, one that illustrates in another way how we each see the world a little differently. Actually I hadn’t been writing a lot of “on the street” posts about my own play, something I reflected on a little in “Hands & Happenings (In Search Of).”

Vera Valmore and I took a vacation mid-month, and quite unexpectedly ended up seeing a KISS cover band. In “The Hottest Band in the World (Sort of),” I wrote a little about the show, and also about the idea of “originality” as it applies to poker/poker strategy.

During ESPN’s coverage of this year’s Main Event, Mike Matusow threw out a hard-to-believe-sounding-claim that in the 2008 ME only one player in the top 100 of the chip counts after Day 1 went on to cash. I had to investigate that one, and shared my findings in “The True Story: Day 1 Chip Leaders at the WSOP Main Event.”

As the month drew to close I began “Thinking About the Poker Hall of Fame, Class of 2010,” primarily because this year I was asked to participate along with a handful of other poker media and cast a vote. Daniel Negreanu called Annie Duke a name, which I couldn’t help writing about in “Negreanu and Duke’s War of Word.” Then I spent the last two days of the month sharing several of the points appearing in an interesting article from 1963 by John Lukacs called “Poker and American Character.” Had to split that one into two parts -- Part 1 and Part 2.

Well, we’ve made it. Get out and stretch your legs. Still have a ways to go. See you back here tomorrow and we’ll take it the rest of the way.

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