Monday, May 30, 2016

Watching the Super High Roller Bowl

I actually had Day 1 of the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl on from start-to-finish yesterday.

Took a little while for the live stream to work out the kinks during the first hour or so, but the PokerCentral channel finally got up to speed and I had it on the teevee via the Roku. Then starting at 7 p.m. ET I switched over to the CBS Sports Network (which I rarely watch but thankfully get) and left it running all night until 3 a.m.

That’s not to say I paid close attention every step of the way, and indeed I think that would have been hard to do even for dedicated televised poker watchers. But I watched a lot, generally enjoying the show and tolerating well enough all of those Dollar Shave Club commercials.

We’ve been listening to Ali Nejad do poker play-by-play for a decade now, and he was solid as usual. Nick Schulman was doing commentary as well. I haven’t heard him do a lot before, but he was an absolute natural (I thought), very funny and quick with Nejad while also giving good analysis, often smartly directed toward a wide audience.

Interestingly, a $300K buy-in “super” high roller doesn’t really provide all that much novelty anymore. Or excitement, even, given how common six-figure buy-in events have become since they first started cropping up in early 2011. But this free-to-play “MVMT Million Dollar Final Table Challenge” game being put on by PokerCentral and MVMT watches has added an extra incentive to follow this one, even if the challenge being presented by the contest is all but impossible to meet.

You probably heard about it. Seven players will cash in this tournament, splitting a $15 million prize pool with $5 milly going to the winner. For those who entered the contest, guessing all seven cashers correctly -- in order -- wins a $1 million prize. (No shinola.) And if no one gets that, the closest to doing so wins $10,000, with the top 25 getting fancy watches.

Sure, as Fedor Holz (one of the players who I’ve picked to make my final table) joked on Twitter yesterday, “Don't miss the 0,000006$ EV and bet the Final Table order in this 300k @PokerCentral #SuperHighRollerBowl #value.” Even so, the game added a bit of fun to watching, and the ability to change your line-up at the end of Day 1 (and jettison those who had already busted) enables that to continue into today for most who are playing along.

Just for fun, I pulled together an article on Friday for PokerNews titled “Finding a Million-Dollar Strategy for Picking the Super High Roller Bowl Winners.” I didn’t really pretend to present a sure-fire strategy for playing what is mostly a lottery-like contest, but rather went through and gave a history of sorts for all 49 players in events with buy-ins of $100K or more. That is to say, I shared how many times each had cashed in such events before (or not, as some never have), not being able to share also how many times the players had entered super high rollers.

I then picked a final table comprised of dudes who’d gotten to the money in these things many times. Two of my original picks -- Scott Seiver and Isaac Haxton -- didn’t make it to today’s second day of play, and so before the window closed to change picks I swapped them out for Timofey Kuznetsov and Daniel Negreanu (both of whom finished Day 1 with big stacks).

Looking at past super high rollers seems as good a way as any to play a game like this. I was just reading this afternoon an ESPN article by Bill Barnwell discussing tonight’s Game 7 between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder (which is going to interrupt my SHRB viewing for certain). He essentially did something similar, going back through history and looking for examples of teams who like OKC blew Game 6 leads in which they’d have clinched series (both in basketball and baseball), then seeing how they did in Game 7s.

In truth I think the only people who can truly handicap something like this are the players themselves, as they know more than anyone the relative skill level and potential for success of those who are participating.

Anyhow, that’s my card up top. Wish me -- and those seven guys listed above -- luck.

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