Thursday, October 06, 2016

Helping Hands

I have been keeping up with the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event coverage on ESPN. I never watch them live, only picking them up on YouTube later -- much better without the commercials.

They’ve been rolling out a couple of episodes every Sunday, having gotten through eight so far. The last one this week finished partway through Day 6 with 51 players remaining.

I marvel at how good Lon McEachern and Norman Chad continue to be with their commentary. They do especially well pitching things in such a way that different kinds of viewers -- from the most casual fans to hardcore strategy-nerds -- can find something to focus on and enjoy. They work in plenty of grins, too, and I find myself genuinely laughing out loud a couple of times per hour either at the more overt jokes or sly “inside baseball” references occasionally snuck into the proceedings.

The first episode this week (Episode 7) began with the start of Day 6 and an interesting situation involving the player Jason McConnon. Returning to a about 25 big blinds, McConnon had brought to the feature table a “cheat sheet” ostensibly offering guidance for when to push or fold a short stack with certain hands in certain spots. You know, kind of a helping hand (pun intended).

Kenny Hallaert was sitting to McConnon’s left and mentioned to McConnon before they started how he wouldn’t be able to use the sheets during a hand. (Hallaert, who went on to make the November Nine, is a tournament director himself, likely to know something about the issue.) Then during the very first hand McConnon picked up ace-queen offsuit and pulled out the sheets to take a look. That led to a visit to the table by Tournament Director Jack Effel and a ruling that McConnon had to put his notes away while playing his hand.

There’s an article over on PokerNews today reviewing the situation and highlighting some of the WSOP’s rules that are pertinent. It actually sounds like a bit of a judgment call, though just stepping back from this particular situation I prefer players not using notes or other helpers during hands. On the broadcast Norman Chad offers a similar take as a humorous rant (made even funnier when his teleprompter “fails” him as he’s trying to finish).

The situation reminds a little of my teaching days when it did happen (rarely, but now and then) that I’d catch students trying to cheat in various ways. I’m vaguely recalling a little joke I’d make whenever passing out exams. I’d say something like, “Put your books away -- all you need is a pencil... and your brain.”

Back when I was teaching full-time, I didn’t have to deal with students being constantly online with smartphones and/or laptops, of course. Now that’s become part of the reality of the classroom, greatly affecting many instructors’ approaches to teaching and testing -- changing the pedagogical “game,” so to speak.

Some teachers ask students to put away all their electronics, kind of reverting back to a more “primitive” or even exotic-seeming situation of just simply talking to one another, perhaps with a book open and a pen and pad nearby for note-taking. I’d kind of like poker to be played that way, too -- with the phones and iPads put away and players interacting minus such interference.

But that’s not our world anymore, so I understand as well those who wouldn’t want to play that way.

Image: “110725-G-EM820-800,” US Coast Guard Academy. Public domain.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

It's popular to bash Chad and McEachern, but I'm like you -- I rather enjoy them.

10/09/2016 2:46 PM  

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