Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Entrants Lists and the WSOP

Unlike the last couple of years, this summer the World Series of Poker is not making available complete entrants lists for all events. Thus the website -- not affiliated with the WSOP -- has not been adding any new information to its database that makes available individual players’ histories of participation at the Series (from 2011-2012) via simple name searches. (That to the left is a pic of the first part of one of last year’s entrants lists. Always wondered why those lists were missing a few letters, as though they came from a typewriter with a busted key or two.)

I’ve mentioned that site here a couple of times before, most recently after last year’s Series in a post titled “ROI at the WSOP.” I’ve also written posts here before about the whole idea of tracking tournament participation and making it public along with results.

For example, in a post titled “For the Record (Thoughts on Tracking Tournament Winnings),” I made the (obvious) observation that sites like Hendon Mob only report cashes and not entries, thus perhaps giving the superficial impression that “everyone is winning and no one is losing.” But there I also pointed out how I understood some of the reasons why most players wouldn’t be very enthused by the idea of their full tournament participation being publicized for all to see.

I’d noticed the WSOP wasn’t providing the entrants lists this year, but was reminded of this fact yesterday while following a Twitter conversation about it begun by players who were seeking information about players’ participation in the 2013 WSOP on and failing to find it.

I believe Josh Brikis kicked off the conversation by asking WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel if he “could get the up and running” and Effel responding to say that this year the WSOP was not releasing the entrants lists (not that the WSOP had anything to do with the site, anyway). From there a few others joined in to talk about uses for the information, including Jonathan Aguiar who mentioned how helpful it was for staking arrangements, specifically as an assurance to those doing the staking that their horses had actually participated in certain events.

Jessica Welman, Managing Editor of the WSOP website, chimed in to confirm again to Aguiar and others that indeed, the WSOP had changed its policy this year with regard to the release of entrants lists, noting that “Customer privacy is a priority” and that “there are many ppl who don’t want their ROI out there for public consumption.”

I found the discussion diverting, noting how it appeared the stakers -- a small but significant subset of WSOP players -- seemed to be the ones most interested in having the entrants lists made public, while others (I assumed) probably weren’t so curious.

I thought about how from a tourney reporter’s perspective such lists can occasionally be helpful, although in truth they aren’t so necessary. At some of the WSOP Circuit stops this year, I did get a look at some entrants lists and seating assignments during Day 1 flights, mainly just to help locate notable players and perhaps help identify a few during the afternoon and evening. But at the WSOP it usually isn’t such a challenge to find and identify players even in the large field events, and so I can’t think of much reason why I’d need to see an entrants list in order to report on a specific event.

Of course, if I were wanting to write some sort of feature or study about a particular player’s Series, one that would include a rundown of his or her entries, having such lists would make the task a little easier. I could probably think of other kinds of reporting for which the lists might be of use, but as I say, from the live reporting perspective, they aren’t so vital.

I thought a little bit, too, about how besides wanting to protect players’ privacy, the WSOP likewise has a practical interest in not making such information public. I wrote in that earlier “For the Record” post about how the WSOP and other tours “would have little to gain, I would think, from showing all of its players (and the rest of the world) exactly how much they’ve lost over the course of their respective series.”

Kind of interesting to think about this whole issue of personal privacy amid the huge furor currently raging over the recent revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) ordered Verizon to turn over all phone records of calls placed within the U.S. or originating in the U.S. to those abroad over a three-month period (starting in April and extending through July) -- a discovery which has led to increased speculation about the extent of other types of governmental surveillance and heated debates over privacy rights.

Obviously the WSOP can employ any policy it likes with regard to publicizing entrants lists. Somehow, though, it feels correct not to publish them, not so much from any particular policy standpoint, but as a practice that conforms somewhat with etiquette emanating from the game itself.

We can tell which players are winning by all of the chips sitting in front of them. Meanwhile, if we’re paying attention we also generally can identify who has been losing, but there’s often a tendency not to draw undue notice to such. That’s because everyone -- the winners and losers -- for various reasons understands there’s little (or no) benefit to be had from advertising the plight of the losing player.

Makes me think of a tweet sent out by Andy Bloch a few days back responding to one sent by WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky reporting that through the first 14 events “Players at the @WSOP have won $27,352,360 thus far, up from $19.99 million last year.”

While the comparison is a little off anyway thanks to the fact that the first 14 events from the two years aren’t really parallel to one another, Bloch came up with a different rejoinder:

“Players at the @WSOP have won $27M thus far, lost $30M, net -$3M.”

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Blogger Robert Dudek said...

Hi Shamus,

About the privacy argument. If this is the true motivation, then publishing just the cashes also violates people's privacy.

My view is that if you are required to register for a tournament, and that tournament is by its nature in the public domain and reported on as such (i.e. it does not take place behind closed doors, not does it feature the anonymity of most cash games), all your results are fair game.

Think of a sport like baseball if a player said - "you can record and publicize my homeruns, but not my strikeouts". It would be the height of absurdity.

6/14/2013 12:55 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

I don't disagree with you, Robert. In fact, the "privacy" point made me think of that "Participant Likeness and Image" section in the WSOP rules that spells out various ways players agree to give up their privacy by playing in the events. (There are signs outside the Amazon, too, that remind players of something similar -- i.e., that they could end up on TV by playing in WSOP events.)

I also thought of the seemingly endless statistical data now being produced by other sports, where obviously nothing is considered to be beyond observers' ken. Or out of bounds when it comes to analysis and evaluation.

I thought about a player like Austin Rivers of the New Orleans Hornets. Rivers's stats of 6.2 ppg and 2.1 apg this year certainly showed he wasn't among the best point guards around. But if you look at John Hollinger's NBA player rankings you discover Rivers being rated 343rd out of 344 players this year -- i.e., one of the aboslute worst!

6/14/2013 1:43 PM  

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