Friday, December 31, 2010

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

'Spicy Detective' magazine (October 1936)We’re almost there.

Like the rest of you (I’m guessing), I was also marveling yesterday at the buzz surrounding all of those announcements coming from UltimateBet. Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth are leaving. Joe Sebok is staying. And apparently Prahlad Friedman -- who’d once been gutted by the cheating on UB back in the day -- is apparently joining the team as a newly-sponsored pro (not confirmed, although UB.com did accidentally post Friedman’s name on Duke’s old bio page for a short while yesterday).

Having been caught up in this business of recapping the year at HBP, I realized I hadn’t written a heck of a lot here about UltimateBet in 2010. The fact is, while the departures of Hellmuth and Duke are certainly notable, some of us left UB long ago. And I mostly stopped thinking about the site this year, my last genuine comment about UB coming back in January when I spent only part of one post alluding to the ongoing troubles with the hand histories. Also wrote a little back in November about the speculation surrounding Hellmuth’s future with the site in a post titled “Signs of the Times: Hellmuth & UB.”

All of which is to say, while I understand how the sponsorship soap opera and the machinations of top pros are of great concern to many, I’m mostly ambivalent these days about who is a UB pro and who isn’t. As I noted in a post in the fall of 2009 -- after that hardly-final “final decision” on the UB insider cheating scandal was issued by the KGC -- my reaction to a lot of UB-related news tends to be that it’s “none of my business.”

Let’s get this sucker back on the road, then. On Wednesday we made it from January to April, then yesterday from May to August. That brings us to...

September

'2010 Poker Hall of Fame Ballot Has Arrived' (9/13/10)In September I was largely preoccupied with the World Championship of Online Poker on PokerStars, writing a few times about the WCOOP in between reporting on it.

Think I’ll point to some posts on other topics from the month, however.

Speaking of Prahlad Friedman, early in September I wrote a post responding to that infamous “countdown hand” in which he was involved from the WSOP Main Event, the one in which Friedman appeared to have made a call prior to being timed out -- a call that would’ve ended his tourney run -- but benefited from a favorable ruling. The post, titled “Finding the Right Angle,” argues against the idea that Friedman was angle-shooting while also touching on that blown call from earlier in the summer which took away Detroit Tigers’ Armando Galarraga’s perfect game.

The connection? Humans screw up sometimes.

Football season started, which meant I’d once again joined a “pick’em” pool in which I was trying (and mostly failing) to pick NFL winners. Got me thinking again about the differences between sports betting/gambling and poker, and I ended up producing a couple of posts on the theme: “Kicking Myself (Rather Than Letting Someone Else Kick)” and “The Search for a System.”

Speaking of gambling, Rep. Barney Frank appeared on Jay Leno to talk about various topics, including legislating online gambling in the U.S. In “Online Gambling in the Mainstream Media; or, Getting Frank with Leno” I discuss their conversation, responding in particular to some curious comments by the comedian.

Mid-month I reported that the “2010 Poker Hall of Fame Ballot Has Arrived,” and discussed all 10 candidates at length as I contemplated my vote.

Had a couple of occasions to talk about the WSOP this month. In “Minding the Gaps in World Series of Poker History” I noted how even the most significant details of some of the early WSOP Main Events appear to have been lost. And in “Are WSOPE Bracelets ‘Real’?” I addressed that controversy over the WSOP Europe bracelets, revived again in September as the WSOPE played out.

I also found myself writing more than once about poker books, specifically how they seem to be fading from the culture (along with books, generally speaking) in “Have Books Lost Their Hook?” and “Anybody Here Ever Read...?

Let me also note one other, kind of funny post from this month -- “Stop! Thief! Who, Me?” -- in which I tell the story of my having mistakenly stolen a lady’s shopping cart, an act I compare to making a not-so-well-disguised bluff attempt.

October

'Stacks Get Big, Emotions Run High: ESPN’s Coverage of 2010 WSOP Main Event Continues Tonight' (10/5/10)Began the month fretting over having endured a long stretch of “Break-Even Poker.” Meanwhile, I was becoming distracted like everyone else by the ever-building WSOP Main Event “November Nine” hype. In “Stacks Get Big, Emotions Run High: ESPN’s Coverage of 2010 WSOP Main Event Continues Tonight” I comment in particular on having covered eventual fourth-place finisher Filippo Candio in the Main Event.

Poker & Pop Culture, Revisited” compiles a number of columns I’ve written over the last couple of years about poker turning up in non-pokery contexts. “Secret (and Not-So-Secret) Identities in Poker” talks from a reporter’s perspective about how so many players have a couple of different identities -- online and live. And “From the Mayfair Club to Poker’s Most Exclusive Club: Harrington, Seidel Newest Poker Hall of Famers” reflects a bit on how that HOF vote turned out.

I crossed another milestone this month, reaching the 1,200th post here on HBP. That occasioned some reflection about the blog in “The Urge to Keep Writing” and “The Urge to Keep Writing, Continued.”

Speaking of writing, I published a short story over on Dr. Pauly’s “Truckin’” site in October, a mean little hard-boiled tale titled “Burial Detail.” Wrote about it a little in a post titled “Tournaments Are Like Short Stories, Cash Games Like Novels.”

Other posts from October included one called “Robot Rights (and Wrongs)” that responded to the discovery of (a lot of) “poker bots” on Full Tilt Poker, another titled “Physicists & Poker” that draws some connections between the two disciplines, and a response to an episode of “The Big Game” titled “Robl, Negreanu & Tony G Play Poker (and Other Games) on TV.”

November

'2010 WSOP Main Event Final Table: Limping to the Finish' (11/9/10)Like many, I spent the first half of November mostly riveted by the exciting conclusion of the WSOP Main Event.

Early in November I talked about “Watching the Affleck-Duhamel Hand,” noting how incredibly well-staged that little human drama turned out to be when it was finally aired on ESPN.

In “Nine Lives: WSOP Main Event Resumes Tomorrow” I pegged Joseph Cheong as a final table favorite, then soon was writing about the hand that ultimately broke him in “2010 WSOP Main Event Final Table: Cheong Strong? Or Just Wrong?” I then talked about how heads-up saw the WSOP “Limping to the Finish” before running through all of the hands featured in “The Finale on ESPN.”

Speaking of the WSOP, you probably heard that 2008 WSOP ME champ Peter Eastgate sold his bracelet (for charity) on eBay. I considered the significance of his doing so in a post titled “On Eastgate and the Bracelet; or, Must WSOP Main Event Champs Do Our Bidding?

I spent a couple of posts -- under the heading “No Cannes Do: On the Disqualification at Partouche” -- discussing the cheating scandal that occurred at the Partouche Poker Tour Grand Finale, the one in which a German player named Ali Tekintamgac employed some pseudo-bloggers to help him unfairly maneuver his way to the final table. The first post shares details of the incident, primarily drawing on Benjo’s excellent reporting of it. The second post then adds some commentary, primarily concentrating on the ethics/responsibilities of reporters.

The end of November saw me travel to Marrakech, Morocco to help PokerNews with its coverage of the WPT event. Was another memorable adventure, for sure. My travel reports from that journey spilled over into December, but I’ll collect all them links right here: Arrival, Day 1a, Day 1b, Day 2, and Day 3.

December

'Adding to the Cacophony: More on the 'Reid Bill'' (12/9/10)December began with some good news for your humble scribe -- Hard-Boiled Poker had been “Nominated! Bluff Reader’s Choice Awards (Favorite Poker Blog).” No shinola!

Voting is still open for that through January 16, 2011, by the way. Click here to go cast a ballot.

I took a “shot in the dark” and wrote about “Audacity in Poker,” drawing upon James M. Cain’s great hard-boiled novel Double Indemnity to do so.

Then came the so-called “Reid Bill,” that failed piece of legislation to license and regulate online poker in the U.S. Offered a few commentaries on that, including “Getting a Reid on the Situation: On the ‘Prohibition of Internet Gaming, Internet Poker Regulation and UIGEA Enforcement Act’,” “Adding to the Cacophony: More on the ‘Reid Bill’,” and “Zombie Bill Dies, UIGEA Monster Lives.” Related discussions come up in “The Future... What Can We Bank On?”, “The Status Quo,” and “The Search for New Players (and Hats).”

Isildur1 recaptured our attention in December, as evidenced in “Stars Scoops Isildur1” and “Haxton Takes First SuperStar Showdown.”

I wrote about an NFL coach tripping a player running down the sideline and other forms of cheating (conscious or otherwise) in “Thoughts About Not Thinking,” a curious sequence on “The Big Game” in “The Not-So-Loose Cannon Folds Aces,” and a cool new web-based show in “Everybody’s Watching ‘The Micros’.”

Hey, it looks like we’ve made it! Just in time, too, as the tank was getting dangerously close to “E.”

Big thanks once again for riding along with me in 2010, and best of luck to you in your travels through 2011.

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