Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Hellmuth and Gold, Political Pundits

Today is Tuesday, which often makes me think of the “Super Tuesday” -- that is, the $1,050 buy-in weekly no-limit hold’em tournament on PokerStars. Of course today that phrase has a different meaning for many as both the Democrats and Republicans are holding primaries or caucuses in a number of states.

If I’m counting correctly, the Democrats are having primaries and caucuses in 11 different states with about a third of the total delegates up for grabs. Meanwhile the Republicans are holding primaries and caucuses in 13 states with about half of their delegates in play. In other words, after today both races will suddenly move from the early levels to the mid-to-late stages, with nominations perhaps even being all but locked up depending on how things go.

Speaking of poker and politics, I saw a couple of items pop up yesterday in which poker pros were being asked to weigh in on the ongoing presidential race.

First there was Phil Hellmuth tweeting about an article on the website The Street concerning Donald Trump running away with the GOP nomination and the efforts by some in the part to stop him. The article is titled “How Do You Beat Donald Trump? We Asked a Poker Champion,” and has Hellmuth characterizing Trump as a “loose-aggressive” (LAG) player and offering ideas for how to win versus such an opponent.

Nothing too unusual about seeing Hellmuth appear in such a context. I mean we all consistently go to Hellmuth for commentary on all sorts of things besides poker, seeking his thoughts about, say, Jay-Z’s latest joint, the Golden State Warriors, or Carl’s Jr. Texas BBQ Thickburgers.

In the article Hellmuth unsurprisingly advises patience and waiting for a strong hand with which to defeat the player getting involved in too many pots (and betting too much when he does). Of course, that strategy hasn’t worked very well for Trump’s opponents thus far, perhaps because they themselves are too weak as candidates to have much with which to play back against him.

To Hellmuth’s credit, he also outlines a Plan B which involves essentially being even more loose and aggressive in response. It’s a more interesting article than you might think, getting a bit more specific and going beyond that earlier attempt at casting Trump as a poker player appearing in Time a month ago.

The other item that came up yesterday was Jamie Gold (of all people) appearing on Fox News to talk about the presidential race. It was a short three-minute bit in which Gold, introduced as both a former “world poker champion” and an “expert odds analyst,” shared a few thoughts about betting on the election.

Gold talks a little about how betting odds perhaps provide more accurate indicators of what will happen than polls, then offers some ideas about how to bet the election, including explaining the idea of “middling” (here relevant if, as Gold suggests, “it’s about a 99% chance” Hillary Clinton and Trump will be the parties’ nominees).

Gold’s appearance predictably earned some funny and cynical responses yesterday, although it made me think back to his expressed desire after winning the 2006 WSOP Main Event -- on High Stakes Poker, I believe -- that he one day become known as the greatest bluffer ever. Have to say, his commenting on a major news network as an “expert odds analyst” is getting there, wouldn’t you say?

Gold was fine in the short segment (I thought), which you can watch here.

Photos: “Phil Hellmuth” & “Jamie Gold” (adapted), flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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