Friday, February 15, 2013

The GPI’s Tinkering

There are a few different topics floating about the poker world at the moment that seem worth discussing, one of which is that announcement this week by the Global Poker Index that they were “suspending” two players from their rankings thanks to allegations regarding their having cheated at the 2009 Partouche Poker Tour Main Event final table.

You’ve heard about this already, I imagine, both about the cheating and the GPI’s action, and so I won’t needlessly delve too deeply into the particulars. The players concerned are Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi who finished first and second, respectively, at that year’s PPT ME final table.

A video compiled by the player and writer Nordine Bouya was posted a couple of weeks ago and presents what appears to be some fairly damning evidence of collusion occurring between the pair. For a rundown of the story of the video and what it shows, see Haley Hintze’s report over on PokerFuse “2009 Partouche Poker Tour Cheating Allegations Further Tarnish Tour’s Legacy.”

Yesterday the GPI decided to make a formal announcement regarding their decision to remove Pasqualini and Rossi from their rankings. Actually the 2009 tourney happened outside of the 36-month period on which the current rankings are tabulated, but as Zokay Entertainment CEO Alex Dreyfus spells out in his article on the matter, the primary motivation here is to use the GPI as a mechanism to help discourage cheating and better conditions for players, generally speaking.

Dreyfus acknowledges that by making such a decision regarding what is otherwise a stats-based ranking system the GPI perhaps puts itself in danger of sliding down a “slippery slope” when it comes to delivering judgments regarding particular players and their eligibility to be considered in the rankings. He also notes that the GPI isn’t even ready to commit to having been convinced that Pasqualini and Rossi did, in fact, cheat, saying that “we are not claiming that we know they cheated” and adding that such a finding is “up to the casinos and the overseeing regulatory bodies to decide.”

In other words, it’s a somewhat awkward stance being taken here by the GPI to remove a couple of players from their rankings when neither were ever disqualified for cheating from the tourney in question, nor is it even clear there will be any sort of retrospective handling of the matter (e.g., a post-tourney DQ-ing of the players and/or attempt to recover winnings).

Rich Ryan posted an op-ed over on PokerNews today in which he disagrees with the GPI’s decision to “suspend” Pasqualini and Rossi from the rankings. Rich draws analogies from other sports (baseball, cycling) to talk about how various forms of cheating have affected the record books in those contexts, concluding that he dislikes how making subjective decisions about players’ results being compromised ultimately lessens the overall strength of the GPI’s ability to assess and compare players’ tourney performances.

I’m mostly with Rich, I think, regarding his stance on the issue. That is to say, I’m not really sure the GPI needs to worry too much about this sort of policing of its rankings, although I also understand where Dreyfus is coming from with his broader goal to use the GPI to help improve the game and the experiences of the players.

That said, I’m less apt to agree with the assumption that the GPI rankings are in fact wholly objective. Even if the rankings are entirely based on players’ performances, a host of decisions have been made regarding the various criteria for weighing those performances that are, in fact, subjective. It’s a nifty measuring system, no doubt, that certainly works to provide a different and more thorough way of measuring players’ performances than comes from, say, a panel’s votes or by polling players. But as we all know, an entirely objective measure of performance in poker tournaments doesn’t really exist.

Anyhow, check out Haley’s report and Ryan’s op-ed, and decide for yourself whether the GPI should or should not be “suspending” players from its rankings, or the degree to which the issue even should matter to the poker community.

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