Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Is Poker? (Talking OFCP)

I didn’t get a chance to listen to today’s World Series of Poker Conference Call, although did follow the blow-by-blow from Rich Ryan and Kevmath over Twitter as it occurred. Besides the talk of frisbees and dog shows, there was one item that came up during the call-concluding Q&A that caught my attention.

A question arose (I believe) regarding open-face Chinese poker and the possibility of it being introduced sooner or later as a bracelet event. It sounded like WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart addressed the issue with some reference to the history of the WSOP, adding also that while they don’t fear innovation, there was perhaps some question about OFCP even being “poker” per se. (I’m paraphrasing Kevmath’s paraphrase.)

I remember first learning Chinese Poker and having a similar thought that the game seemed a lot more like gin or even spades or hearts than poker. Others have brought up further points to suggest that OFCP isn’t like other poker games, including the fact that no one bets (in the usual sense) nor are there really opportunities to bluff, with the latter being what some believe to be a fundamental element of the game.

I wrote a little about this debate here back in December when the 2014 schedule was still being made and there was a lot of discussion back and forth about the idea of an OFCP bracelet event. I posted something on Learn.PokerNews as well about it, kind of summarizing the debate as it was being conducted at the time.

Since then I read an interesting point about OFCP made by Ivan Demidov in a post he recently wrote for the PokerStars blog in which he was addressing why the game was so popular.

“A lot of players like the fact that you never have to fold a hand in open-face Chinese poker,” says Demidov.

It’s kind of an obvious point, but a meaningful one, I think. It’s also perhaps another reason why OFCP isn’t so much a “poker” game, as no folding makes it more like other gambling games in which the option not to play is not available. That said, it still shares a lot of affinities including the goal of making hands according to poker hand rankings.

I liked Stewart’s response and how it showed the WSOP seriously thinks about what exactly “poker” is as well as the importance of moving forward with an appropriate reverence for the past.

Meanwhile, what was this about frisbees and dog shows, again?

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