Thursday, October 20, 2011

Refreshing Reading: Following the WSOPE Main Event Final Table

Refreshing ReadingSpending today following that World Series of Poker Europe Main Event final table over in Cannes, France. Once again, I’m thwarted by that damn ESPN3 applesauce, since my internet service provider isn’t listed among those who get to access anything on the site.

I’m sure the arrangement is handsomely profitable for all involved and I don’t begrudge anyone trying to make an extra buck if they can. Nor am I whining about not getting something for free (although I do pay a satellite company a decent amount per month to view the other ESPN networks).

Is a bummer, though, to be shut out. Makes me wonder about closing off what is really niche programming to a decent-sized percentage of one’s audience.

All is not lost, however, as I am refreshing the updates over at PokerNews as well as Jesse May’s terrific live blog of the Main Event final table over on the Poker Farm site.

Of course, in some ways reading about poker can be more entertaining and enlightening than watching it. Especially if the accounts are being delivered by talented scribes.

We happen to be reading The Biggest Game in Town by Al Alvarez this week in my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class, that highly literary, richly drawn account of the 1981 WSOP. Referring to the book, James McManus once wrote that “Alvarez demonstrates once and for all that an understated prose account of poker action is quite a bit more exciting than watching the game in person, or even on television with hole cards revealed.”

I tend to agree with McManus, particularly when we’re talking about a talent like Alvarez. While watching a live video of the 1981 WSOP would be certainly be intriguing, I can’t imagine it matching the depth and insight of the Englishman’s wide-ranging narrative.

Not unrelatedly, in his live blog Jesse May just now digressed to opine a bit about the trend toward live or sort-of-live streaming coverage of poker, such as will be happening in less than three weeks with ESPN’s coverage of the 2011 WSOP Main Event final table. (See his entry at 17:40.)

There all of the action -- with hole cards -- will be shown on a 15-minute delay. May invites us to imagine that gap closing even further, with hole cards being shown “immediately following the conclusion of every hand, all the hands are revealed on the screen to both players and audience alike.” It’s a logical conclusion May believes we are heading toward.

“Perfect information after every hand,” adds May. “Now every player will know exactly what his opponent had, showdown or not. Every bluff revealed. And each player will have to react to every hand both to his opponents and the audience. Now we’ve got banter, now we’ve got history, now we’ve got levelling. Now we’ve got a spectator sport.”

An interesting prospect to consider. And a wholly different game, really.

Still, wherever this all leads, there will remain a need for the post-game reflection -- “the understated prose account” that can yield still more insight or edification than can ever be delivered even when watching live.

Looks like Jake Cody just busted. Which means at the moment six remain over in Cannes, with the American Elio Fox leading the way.

Back to my reading.

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