Friday, March 02, 2012

Power Trip

Checking the Twitter feedOn a retreat of sorts this weekend, having trucked to Florida with Vera Valmore for a short vacation. Kind of unplugging for a spell, too, if I can manage it. Hoping to recharge the mental battery a bit.

We’ve visited Florida a few times before, usually around this time of year, and have enjoyed ourselves in the past. There’s a dressage competition happening that Vera likes, and during our previous trips I’ve also been able to play some poker in what has become a booming poker state. Now my recently-retired Pop lives down here as well and so we’re staying with him this time.

All of which means I’m mostly off the grid for the next few days, although I did see that new “Power 20” list come trickling over the Twitter transom yesterday via the BLUFF magazine feed.

Last year BLUFF polled more than 100 folks to compile the list which was topped by Full Tilter Howard Lederer (#1) and PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg (#2). Soon after came the Black Friday indictment and civil complaint, with Lederer having been added to the latter by the U.S. Department of Justice in September. As a result, Lederer has tumbled from this year’s list entirely, while Scheinberg has in fact grabbed the top spot -- just like he’s in the top spot on the DOJ indictment.

This year BLUFF “canvassed 51 poker industry insiders ranging from online operators, casino executives, media, players, agents and other influencers” to vote, asking them to “consider individuals whose influence on the industry and the game is mostly positive.”

That last caveat is kind of curious to consider, actually, with regard to a few of the names who made this year’s list. Indeed, in presenting the list the BLUFF staff can’t resist commenting on U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara having surprisingly been voted into the fifth spot.

I’ve never been asked to vote for the BLUFF Power 20, although to be honest while I obviously follow the industry and have familiarity with a lot of what’s happening, I don’t feel all that qualified when it comes to judging where “power” in poker truly lies. Indeed, I don’t envy those among my colleagues who have been charged with what is really a difficult task.

It makes sense for such a list to include a preponderance of business execs and “movers and shakers.” And the presence of a few legislators -- and the one law enforcer, mentioned above -- is probably appropriate, too. Interesting, though, to consider there are only three poker players on the list: Daniel Negreanu (#9), Tony G (#11), and Annie Duke (#18).

BLUFF has been compiling Power 20s every year since 2005, and most years around a third of the spots have been occupied by poker pros. Looks like only three players were on the 2009 list, although that year BLUFF included a lot of “entities” like poker sites or “Professional Poker Players” (as a group) on the list. Are players (on the whole) less powerful today than in the past when it comes to having a “mostly positive” influence on the game?

Have a few more thoughts about some of the particular names included of this year’s list -- as well as those left off -- but like I say I’m gonna try to power down myself here, at least for the weekend.

Let’s see now... where’s the off button on this here iPhone?

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