Friday, February 14, 2014

On “‪#FlippingCoins #$250kaPop”

Another short writing window for your humble scribbler today after another long day of other duties to tend to, including some here on the now super-slushy farm. Thought I’d sign off the week with reference to a debate that arose a few days ago regarding these “high roller” events.

The conversation was occasioned by the two big buy-in tourneys that happend at the Aussie Millions last week and which I was writing about a week ago -- the A$100,000 Challenge won by Yevgeniy Timoshenko who earned A$2 million for topping a field of 76 entries, and that LK Boutique A$250,000 Challenge in which Phil Ivey won A$4 million after prevailing in a field that drew 46 entries.

Both were re-entry events, allowing players to buy back in as many times as they wished up until the start of the second day of play. That led to some eyebrow-raising examples of players spending a lot in Melbourne to play in the tourneys. Daniel Negreanu, for example, bought in five times to the $100K event and another three times to the $250K one. He managed to cash in both and in fact turned a profit overall.

The debate to which I am referring regarding the high roller events arose over Twitter and primarily involved Negreanu and Dan Shak. In his “Five Thoughts” column this week, Rich Ryan touches on one aspect of that dialogue, namely the one over whether or not these huge buy-in events have an effect on all players. (Do they or don’t they?) But in fact I was intrigued by another issue that arose between Shak and Negreanu during their Twitter exchange.

During the frenzy of re-entering the $250K, Negreanu at one point tweeted “Doubled up! K9 vs A8 I hit a 9 weee! This is so fun! ‪#FlippingCoins #$250kaPop.” Not long after Shak wrote a number of tweets about the $250K and high rollers, generally speaking.

Shak actually likes the high roller events (and has a record of doing well in them), but wasn’t crazy about the unlimited re-entry option being available so deep into them as was the case at the Aussie Millions. “Never thought I would say this but what is going on right now is a complete embarrassment to the game and what it means to the value of $,” Shak tweeted amid other comments.

A couple of days later he and Negreanu got into a conversation and Shak noted to Negreanu “the tweeting and referencing 250k flips is what I had issues with,” adding “you are a role model whether you like it or not and it's my opinion that [it is] not necessary to glorify it to the young.”

Negreanu of course defended his tweets about “flipping” for a quarter milly while arguing that delivering such messages wasn’t harmful in the way Shak suggested. You can search through the timelines of both for more, including going up and down the conversations emanating from the tweets linked to above.

Like Shak, I’m somewhat weary of the unlimited re-entry format, generally speaking. I’ll admit to being a bit awe-struck by players dropping so much into these high roller events such as happened in Melbourne. Meanwhile, I’m not sure what sort of effect a player like Negreanu tweeting excitedly about “‪#FlippingCoins #$250kaPop” has on younger, aspiring players, nor how such spectacles might affect broader perceptions about poker’s skill component. But I do get that there is something kind of out-of-whack about it all.

What do you think? What sort of effect do these six-figure tourneys really have on the larger poker community?

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