The strategy debates are especially interesting, and I think part of what makes the WSOP Main Event fun to watch. Who played the best? Who was the least impressive? Who was the most lucky cardwise? Who was least?
The evidence with which to form such opinions is fairly comprehensive, although not entirely so. After all, we know what some of the players had on all of the hands, but not all of them.
Speaking of, I had a chance today to go back over my post from a couple of days ago -- “2013 WSOP Main Event Final Table Hole Cards (Complete)” -- and fill a couple of gaps here and there, meaning right now it’s as complete a record as it gets with regard to players’ hole cards as they were shown during the broadcasts on ESPN and ESPN2. (And in some cases, there might have been errors even there, as the showing of the cards wasn’t always perfectly executed.)
Spectators of other sports engage in debates, too, but in poker just about everyone who does so is usually also a player. There’s an interesting overlap, then, in the experiences of players and spectators, which makes can the post-game stuff even more involving.
That’s not to say most who opine about how the players performed at this year’s WSOP Main Event have ever experienced anything close to the pressure and uniqueness of that particular experience. But most have faced analogous challenges at the tables and thus can address the decision-making with a least some empathy and even understanding than is necessarily the case when, say, a non-football player comments on a football game.
I find watching the WSOP Main Event final table educational, much more so than is the case with the edited, packaged shows leading up to the November Nine, although those, too, can occasionally provide some momentary insights. I also find these post-Main Event discussions enlightening, too.
In fact it doesn’t matter too much how knowledgeable about poker the discussants are, really, because even those debates can reveal certain things about how players think about the game. A particular exchange may not explain much at all about what the players themselves were up to in a given hand, but it still communicates something about how those engaging in the discussion view certain situations and decisions.
Maybe it’s the academic in me, relishing the questions and further inquiry and not being bothered by a lack of definitive conclusions about the “text” presented to us by the WSOP Main Event final table. Here’s to the continued annotations upon it!
(Groovy final table pic above by Joe Giron for PokerNews.)