And maybe kinda sorta related to those larger, more meaningful concerns, too. Let me explain.
The “issue” -- I’m going to keep using the scare quotes -- is whether or not in games that have community cards to report the flop as it comes or to reorder the cards from high to low. E.g., if the flop comes (as in the above pic from a past WSOP), is it better to write out the cards in the order they land on the table or should the flop be reported as ?
Whenever this debate arises among poker reporters -- as it did over Twitter last night a little bit -- I can’t help but think of the fight between the “Big-Endians” and “Little-Endians” in Jonathan Swift’s Gullivers Travels.
You remember, the factions Gulliver encounters in the land of Lilliput, with one group insisting upon first breaking eggs on the big end and the other adamant about breaking them on the small end? War erupts between Lilliput and nearby Blefuscu over the matter, and thousands die as a result.
Talk about a hard-boiled story! (Rim shot.)
B.J. Nemeth is a lead proponent of ordering the flop. As he explained on Twitter last night, not only does he always reorder the three cards from high to low, when there are paired cards he likes to order them by suits, too. Says Nemeth, “Personally, when the cards are the same (2 or 3 kings, for example), I list them alphabetically by suits. c-d-h-s,” adding “I don't consider that to be required, but I like consistency. And I can always identify my own updates years later.”
“Orderers” such as Nemeth champion resetting the flop because they believe it increases readability. In a sense, they are doing for the reader the small amount of mental work each player must do when he or she looks at the flop. The further ordering of suits on paired boards is perhaps a little idiosyncratic, but as Nemeth says he doesn’t “require” that of himself. (Or others?)
“Non-Orderers,” meanwhile, will report the cards as they appear on the table, as is. “The flop is the flop,” is how Paul Oresteen put it last night on Twitter, defending the decision not to reorder the cards when reporting. (It should be added that we are speaking here of the flop only; obviously it is vital to report the flop, then the turn, then the river in correct sequence!)
Like I said, a big part of me wants to dismiss this whole debate like a bunch of discarded eggshells. But B.J.’s comment about being able to “identify [his] own updates years later” got me thinking that perhaps there is something meaningful here, something that actually suggests this “issue” is of at least some relevance, if in an indirect way.
Like Paul, I’m a “Non-Orderer.” I write the flop as it comes. It’s part of my mindset as a reporter, as someone who is not allowed to alter the facts when reporting. I understand the “readability” argument just fine, but I can also imagine taking that idea further to justify other alterations and embellishments when reporting. I’m with Paul -- the flop is the flop. And the turn is the turn and the river is the river. Those elements of the hand -- like the bets and other happenings relevant to the way the hand plays out -- I don’t change.
However, I do allow myself the freedom to engage my readers when telling the story of the hand by the introduction of other, contextual matters that heighten interest, as well as by turns of phrase and other examples of what might (immodestly) be called “creativity” that serve to make the report more interesting. Or, to put it differently, to increase readability. And that stuff I’ll order in whatever way seems most appropriate. Additionally, that introduction of personal style is also how I might “identify my own updates years later” (if there weren’t a name attached to the hand report, that is).
That said, as someone who respects and appreciates others’ styles and approaches, I’ve nothing but love for the Orderers. And thankfully, I don’t think any of those with opinions about ordering flops is invested heavily enough in the “issue” to take up arms over it.
Although now that I think about it, I know B.J. always carries that titanium spork in his bag.