Monday, May 29, 2017

Pursuing Poker

Spent the last couple of days watching poker on my computer. The PokerStars Championship Sochi series is running, and as I’m staying on the farm for that one I’ve had occasion to check in now and then from here to follow the coverage both on the PokerStars blog and via PokerStars TV.

Then yesterday I had Day 1 of the Super High Roller Bowl on all day, that $300K buy-in tournament that started last night and lasts for several days. Both events are serving as a kind of prelude to the World Series of Poker that gets cranking on Wednesday.

Did very much enjoy seeing Kevin Hart knock out Phil Hellmuth on Day 1. Hellmuth had a bit of a cooler versus Justin Bonomo early (flopped set versus flopped straight), then as a short stack lost all his chips in a set-under-set hand versus Hart.

In fact, when the cards were dealt and Hellmuth had pocket treys versus Hart’s queens, I was already imagining a Q-3-x flop and that’s exactly what happened. Such fun.

Realizing the NBA Finals don’t start until Thursday -- a full week since the last game of the conference finals completed -- I had to joke on Twitter that poker had found a “sweet spot” amid what amounted to a “November Nine-like wait” for basketball to return.

Indeed, the entire WSOP, right through the Main Event that will go until July 22nd, will more or less function to fill a fairly dead spot in the sports calendar between the NBA and NFL. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m all on board with getting rid of the November Nine and playing the Main down to a winner this summer with only a couple of days’ delay before the final table.

This new PokerGO channel that PokerCentral has created seems okay from the outside, although there are obviously a lot of kinks still to be ironed out. While it’s nice to be able simply to click through and watch (as with PokerStars TV) -- ideal, really -- I’m not too bothered by the subscription model they’ve set up and $10 a month doesn’t seem like a lot to fuss over, as long as the sucker works.

(That said, I’m still waiting for the PayPal option to become functional, as I prefer that route to using a credit card. And I’m looking forward to them getting Roku up and running as they are saying they will, as I’d much rather watch on the teevee than the laptop.)

Still feel like televised (or online streaming) poker remains a super niche form of entertainment, and frankly can’t imagine it being otherwise. There’s always a dream to grow televised poker into something bigger than it is, something resembling or even competing with other sports or entertainment. In other words, something like it was 13-14 years ago, when the televised poker boom first boomed.

That ain’t happening again, of course. But a more modest goal of providing something worth checking out when other desired distractions aren’t available isn’t such a bad one.

Images: PokerStars; PokerCentral / PokerGO.

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