Monday, October 17, 2011

LOL Americans

Get a brain, moransI was playing online over the weekend over on the Hero Poker site. While some of the Merge network sites are now allowing U.S. player sign-ups, I believe Hero is one skin that is not letting any new American players jump in. They are, however, allowing those who currently have accounts there to continue to play.

It is pretty silly, all of the different restrictions and what not. Not to mention the many hoops through which American poker players presently have to go in order to play online at all. And of course our prospects going forward remain dim as far as the near future goes, although perhaps down the road we may have some sort of legislation to allow us back online to play what Al Alvarez once called “the American game.”

Am seeing some funny usernames around the tables at Hero, stuff like “FTPTookMyMny” and “FtheDOJ” the like. On Hero you can see what country a player is from, and it does seem like whenever I check that a lot of my opponents are from the U.S.

Was playing against one guy on Saturday, though, who wasn’t from the U.S. but from Germany. He had a funny name, too -- “LOLAmericans” -- with a smirky Sarah Palin pic as an avatar.

A little later another player lost a decent-sized pot after getting it in good versus “LOLAmericans” only to be sucked out on. The loser -- a U.S. player -- got a little fired up in the chatbox about it afterwards, referring to the player’s nationality once or twice in the process. I think the username might have tilted him as much or more than losing the hand.

I had to laugh a little, both at the situation and the “LOLAmericans” name. Made me think of a couple of different stories coming out over the last few days regarding non-Americans doing a bit of trash-talking about the relative poker-playing abilities of American players and the rest of the world.

There was that story involving 2010 WSOPE Main Event winner James Bord and opening up betting on who will be this year’s WSOPE Main Event champ. You might heard how Bord (who is from the U.K.) has said he will be refunding all losing bets if an American wins the ME.

A pretty bold offer, really. By the way, this year’s WSOPE Main Event at Cannes attracted a record-smashing total of 593 players. (The previous high for a WSOPE ME was 362.) Just eyeballing the list of entrants, I’m seeing 107 Americans listed in the field, meaning a little more than 1 in 6 players are from the U.S.

All of the seven WSOPE bracelet events drew big fields, in fact. Incidentally, among those first six prelims three Americans won bracelets (Steve Billirakis, Tristan Wade, Michael Mizrachi).

The other America-versus-the-rest-of-the-world story from over the weekend involved the always needling Tony G. The G decided to do a little boast-posting on his blog after getting asked by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier to join the European team in the upcoming Caesars Cup that starts on Wednesday. That’s that team event pitting a U.S. team versus a European team that was started back in 2009 as a kind of postlude to the WSOPE. (Sort of poker’s version of golf’s Ryder Cup.)

A picture of a guy who looks like Phil Hellmuth riding a giant hot dog on waterBy the way, Phil Hellmuth is captain of the U.S. team this year. I am certain Hellmuth will bring the needed gravitas to help the Americans avoid any further ridicule. I mean no one ever makes fun of him.

Tony G’s post was titled “Bring on the Americans!” and there he offers some more mostly playful-sounding vitriol directed toward the U.S. players, concluding with a somewhat confusing call to “reignite the cold war.”

He also noted there how he was betting $20,000 at 5/1 on that he’d make the money in the WSOPE Main Event. After drawing a straight flush on his first hand to crack Barry Greenstein’s pocket aces, Tony G remains in the running at the moment with about 240 players left. (The top 64 cash.)

Those side bets on the online betting exchange certainly can spice up things a bit for players and fans alike. For everyone but Americans, that is, since we cannot place bets on (LOL.)

Making fun of Americans is a worldwide sport in and of itself, really. In fact, Americans themselves tend to enjoy it as much as anyone else.

How do Americans compare to the rest of the world as poker players? Historically speaking, the U.S. had a big head start versus the rest of the world with regard to poker. But I think it’s safe to say that whatever general edge Americans once had has been essentially closed over recent decades.

And given the way we’ve closed ourselves off from the online game at present, I suppose it won’t be that long before we might have to admit the U.S. will be playing from behind (generally speaking) when it comes to “the American game.”

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