Friday, June 05, 2015

The World Series of Pressure

Spent a little time over the last day sifting through more regarding that cheating allegation story from yesterday, then got distracted by various other complaints arising out of the World Series of Poker regarding structures, schedules, and so on.

Every summer the WSOP tends to produce a wide-ranging mix of responses. Some observe how the tournament series brings together players from all backgrounds, skill levels, and from all around the globe in a way that adds up to a unique celebration of the game. Others are less enthusiastic about the WSOP’s effect on the game and its players, with the criticisms (naturally) often being louder and more numerous than the praises.

I don’t necessarily think this year is any different from what we’ve seen in the past, although it might seem so given the sheer number of grievances that have been tossed about over the last week-and-a-half regarding how things are going at the Rio this year.

Made me think a little of how every year the WSOP could be characterized as in fact presenting a serious challenge to poker as a whole, in a way, introducing all sorts of stressors into the community that unsurprisingly demonstrates some discomfort when trying to handle it. It’s such a huge event, and every year organizers try earnestly to make it even bigger, almost always doing so beyond the means needed to accommodate such growth.

That said, poker players are often different from non-poker players in the way they are more willing to invite pressure into their lives. Just playing a single tournament or cash session is an acceptance of risk in the hope of reward -- in other words, a willingness to tolerate the possibility of upsetting one’s status quo that many people do not possess.

The WSOP’s unrelenting pace and need to push every edge (so to speak) as it continually tries to expand is kind of analogous to a player moving up in stakes to play a level or two above his or her bankroll, thereby adding an extra layer of pressure to every action as long as the trial lasts. You could say that the WSOP -- or Caesars (and the players) -- is “taking a shot” every summer without necessarily be assured of knowing how things will go.

Most players who take shots do survive one way or another, regardless of how things go. And it’s more likely than not that the WSOP will make it through this summer, too, and continue to challenge the poker community again and again for many years after this one.

There’s always some risk of ruin, I suppose. But that’s part of what makes such challenges so interesting. And, for some, even appealing.

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