Thursday, August 29, 2013

Defending MyStack

On the way home from Florida yesterday I listened to the latest episode of the always interesting and entertaining Two Plus Two Pokercast (episode 283). Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz spent a lot of time at the beginning discussing this week’s tournaments down at the Seminole Hard Rock, focusing in particular on the $100K WPT Alpha8 Florida event I’d been there to cover and the $10 million guaranteed SHRPO Main Event that finished up yesterday.

During the discussion of the SHRPO ME the pair became very critical of the PokerNews MyStack App, kind of railing against it somewhat unfairly, I thought, although it seemed as though their comments were based on a misunderstanding about PokerNews’s coverage of the SHRPO ME. (By the way, I was not there for PN, but rather reporting on the Alpha8 for the World Poker Tour.)

Used to the usual full-blown live reporting, chip count updates, and reports of results that PokerNews generally provides for tournaments, I think Mike and Adam were expecting something similar when it came to this event, although in truth PokerNews didn’t send a full crew to Florida, instead only having Rich Ryan file some feature stories each day (which I thought did a pretty good job of updating readers about what was happening day-to-day). That is to say Rich wasn’t doing the typical live reporting of hands and action nor was he updating chip counts, although the PN site did enable the MyStack app to be used by players if they wished.

Rather, the SHRPO hired a team to do the live reporting which could be found on their own website. Included in that coverage was a feed that came via PokerNews included player-entered MyStack updates, which I think understandably caused some confusion for those who casually followed the coverage on the SHRPO site.

At a glance one saw a list of chip counts on the front page of the SHRPO site (with “MyStack App Chip Counts” noted above), but those were only the counts players had been entering with the app. In fact, even though the tournament ended yesterday, that list is still visible on the landing page, although now with no players listed as I assume the feed has been stopped.

So the same list of “MyStack” counts was being shown on the SHRPO site and over at PokerNews as the tournament played out, but that list was never a full one and was a little misleading insofar as it looked like a regular chip counts list but only included a small percentage of players in the tournament.

Meanwhile the SHRPO team was providing their own counts -- gathered by their reporting team -- which did not incorporate the MyStack counts. This is where some misunderstanding arose, I’m sure. If one poked around the SHRPO site one found two sets of counts, but only the reporter-created one was really representative of the tourney (i.e., had the leaders’ counts and most players’). I only casually followed the coverage on the SHRPO site while reading a lot of Rich’s articles on the Main Event along the way, but I saw enough of the set-up to understand why it could be confusing, and why Mike and Adam sounded a little frustrated about following the counts from the event.

Like I say, in Mike and Adam’s brief discussion about the chip count issue they spent most of the time dismissing the MyStack app as a worthless tool that hurt rather than helped tourney coverage. But in my view they arrived at that conclusion incorrectly, basing it on the probably not-so-great experiment with the app that was tried at SHRPO. The fact is, the app was used to great effect all through the WSOP (I thought), where the players’ chip counts updates were incorporated into those being entered by those of us reporting on the event. (I wrote about the app back in May when it was first introduced.)

In their discussion Mike and Adam seized on the example of Terrence Chan having entered his chip count at some point with the app, then later busting from the tournament and not bothering to update his count to reflect he was out of the tournament. Since the MyStack counts weren’t being incorporated into a larger, reporter-updated list of counts, his stack was never changed to “0” and thus gave the wrong impression that he was still in the tournament.

That was not a problem at the WSOP this summer, because if the same scenario occurred with Chan one of the reporters would bust him from the counts. Other issues with the app that Mike and Adam described -- e.g., players reporting themselves as having more chips than they actually had, players not reporting chip decreases and only increases, etc. -- weren’t really issues at all at the WSOP thanks to the fact that reporters were monitoring the players’ updates and ensuring there wasn’t anything out-of-the-ordinary happening with the counts.

That’s not to say the reporting of chip counts was flawlessly performed at the WSOP -- by players or reporters -- but it did seem to me the MyStack app worked fairly well as a significant supplement to the reporting, and probably shouldn’t be rejected as worthless (especially based on how it was used in connection with the SHRPO Main Event).

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