Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Hard-Boiled Poker 2012 Year in Review (2 of 3)

Happy New Year, all. Am continuing with the recapping business today, after yesterday moving through January-April Gonna minimize the ado, and just do it.


Started the month “Talkin’ Titanic” while alluding to another Pop Poker piece over on PokerListings looking at various poker-related stories connected to the doomed passenger liner and blockbuster film. Also on the pop culture front, a little later I was writing about “Rounders’ Game of Tell and Show” as well as “Playing Poker with Sanford and Son.”

As the month went by I commented on various news of the day in posts like “WSOP Asia Pacific Adds More Bracelets,” “WSOP Stirring Things Up for 2012,” and “Buddhist Monks Busted.” Also talked about Lock Poker leaving Merge for its own network in “A Necessarily Small Revolution.”

In “Human Interest” I reflected on a thoughtful blog post by Phil Galfond (someone whose blog probably should’ve been nominated this year for the BLUFF Reader’s Choice Awards’ Favorite Poker Blog). And “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forums” gave me another chance to practice some photoshopping skills while commenting on 2+2 still being down.

Then late in the month I had the opportunity to make a return trip down to Punta del Este, Uruguay to cover another LAPT event, and so spent a week writing about packing, arriving, the “pregame,” covering Days 1, 2, 3, and 4, then finally departing. It was a great time and again I loved the chance to work with some terrific folks. I say that despite the fact that the trip home was unexpectedly arduous, with two canceled flights, a lot of poor communication and handling by American Airlines, and a frustrated Shamus getting back home to write a post about AA titled “The Best Hand in Hold’em, the Worst in Air Travel.”


As was the case in 2011, I’d spend the first part of the WSOP at home, then traveled out to Las Vegas in mid-June to help PokerNews cover the last month of the WSOP.

The first couple of weeks of the month thus saw me frequently commenting on the Series from afar, such as in “The Big One for One Drop One Month Away,” “WSOP Weekend: Beefs, Blunders, and Bloch,” “Six-Bet Shove Surprise, Redux,” “Everyone Following the Phils,” “Matros Exceeds Expectations,” and “Hellmuth, Again.” I also offered an early comparison addressing turnouts at this year’s Series in a post titled “Spot the Differences (Comparing 2011 & 2012 WSOPs).”

Meanwhile, I continued to express frustration about the lack of online options for U.S. poker players in “Looking for a Game.” And I used a birthday and visit to the eye doctor as an excuse for some “shot in the dark”-style meditation in “A Momentary Loss of Focus.”

Once I arrived in Vegas, I began the daily reports as usual, beginning with a flight shared with a dangerously drunk passenger recounted in “Everybody Hang On!!!” After that I was “Easing In” to the heavy work schedule, describing “The Vibe” at my fifth consecutive WSOP, and listening to the cocktail waiter’s call of “‘WHATTTAREDBOOOOLLLL!’

In “The Future Is Now,” I reported on that ultimately unsuccessful “ChipTic” experiment tried at this year’s WSOP. I got to cover Norman Chad’s final table and found it especially entertaining to watch “Adults Playing Games.” And I shared my thoughts about a controversial hand in the $50K Players Championship in “Attempts at Time Travel at the WSOP.”

After working a week without a break, my buddy F-Train took me up to Red Rock Canyon for a hike, which after all of those days inside the Rio felt kind of like visiting the moon. I talked about the day and shared some pics in “Hot Rocks.” Then the next day the always perceptive Tommy Angelo knew what I’d done without my even telling him, as I reported in a post called “In Which My Shoes Give Away Where I Have Been.”

From there the Series kept “Cruising Along,” leading up to my covering the Ladies Event and lamenting the decision by a few men to play in “That’s a Bummer, Man (Men in the Ladies Event).”


On a day in early July I started out helping cover the conclusion of the Ladies event, then moved over to assist with the reporting on the “Big One for One Drop.” Made for a unique day, and I shared some thoughts about the contrast between the two events in “Same But Different.” I was then off on the day the “Big One” concluded, but did go watch the finale in person and reported on the spectacle in a post titled after the first-prize amount, “$18,346,873.”

I commented on a minor WSOP-related debate in “Cheering Is Allowed and Encouraged.” Pretty soon the Main Event had begun and was quickly “Flying Along” with another big turnout, the final total discussed in part in “And Doyle Makes 6,598.”

I had one last day off and was able to play in a tournament myself -- discussed in “H.O.R.S.E. Play” -- then came the final stretch run to the end of play in mid-July. On Day 2c, I had a chance to spend some time “Blogging Blom.” On Day 4 the cash bubble burst, discussed in “Atmospheric Disturbances.” And by Day 6 we were “Racing to the End,” that being the day of The Great WSOP Media Chair Race in which B.J. Nemeth demonstrated an uncanny knack for impersonating Evel Knievel.

In “C’est Fini” I described the utterly wild final day of play in July that saw the last two women, Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille, “double bubble” the final table by going out in 10th and 11th. It was easily the most dramatic day of the summer, and one of the most intriguing I’ve experienced at the WSOP in the last five years. Then after offering a postlude in “Like a Dream,” I closed my “Reporter’s Notebook” and headed home.

After I got back, a post about “ROI at the WSOP” ended up being one of the most read of the year here at HBP. The last days of July saw me create my Hard-Boiled Poker Home Games, something I talked about in “Home Game Hijinks,” then comment on a few news items in “Tar Heel Poker” and “Black Friday Defendants Behind Bars.” The big news story of the summer then arrived at month’s end when PokerStars settled with the DOJ, acquiring Full Tilt Poker in the process, as discussed in “Reporting from the Echo Chamber” and “PokerStars Standing Tall in the Saddle.”


That Stars-DOJ-FTP deal made headlines in the mainstream, and as always tends to happen in these cases the story (and poker, generally speaking) was presented in some creative and occasionally wildly inaccurate ways, as noted in “A Complicated Deal: Reporting on the Stars-DOJ-FTP Agreement.”

Meanwhile, the summer Olympics had begun, and soon I was “Defending Dressage” against detractors (a sport in which my beloved Vera competes). Was talking about horses some more in a post called “Poker, John Wayne, and Law and Order,” before turning back to the Olympics in “Tuning Into the Human Race” and “Closing Thoughts (NBC & Olympics).”

It was in early August that I first wrote about the Epic Poker League website having been deleted altogether, something that had actually happened a few weeks before following FS+G’s sale of its meager assets. In “We Are Sorry, www.epicpoker.com Cannot Be Found” I talked about how the removal of the site disappointed me personally, since I’d contributed more than two dozen pieces about poker and popular culture there. (I plan to repost a number of them in 2013, by the way, either here or perhaps elsewhere.) Speaking of, I did post another short one about “Poker in the Movies” here.

Further consequences of the Stars-DOJ-FTP deal were addressed in “Not-So-Easy Money (On U.S. Players Withdrawing from Full Tilt Poker)” and “Exit FTPDoug, Enter FTPMarkus.” I offered another somewhat cynical op-ed regarding the Poker Players Alliance in “On the PPA; or, Fight, Fight Fight!” I also talked about what appears to be a very weird (and highly blinkered) angle being taken by Bringing Down the House author Ben Mezrich with regard to his new book project about the Absolute Poker boys in “The ‘Very American’ Story of Online Poker.”

The “skill-vs.-luck” debate then came up in a couple of posts near the end of the month, “Poker Wins One (Luck or Skill?)” and “More on Luck vs. Skill in Poker: Two New Academic Studies Reach Opposite Conclusions.” With the elections starting to near I wrote about “Platforms and Parties.” And I finally read Moneyball by Michael Lewis, then wrote two posts spelling out why I think poker players would like the book -- “More Than Meets the Eye: Moneyball and Poker” and “More on Moneyball.”

All right, that’s two out of three. Back tomorrow with September through December, then we can all stop looking back and start moving forward.

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