Thursday, April 30, 2009

On the 2009 WSOP Conference Call, the Hall, and All

2009 World Series of PokerListened to that conference call earlier in the week for the World Series of Poker. That was Tuesday morning, with Jeffrey Pollack (WSOP Commish), Jack Effel (WSOP Tournament Director), Doug White (ESPN’s Senior Director of Programming), and Seth Palansky (WSOP Communications Director) all offering a few observations and announcements, then taking questions from reporters.

I have to say do very much like the WSOP’s efforts to communicate with players, the media, and fans like this. I know I’m critical every now & then of certain stuff that comes out of the WSOP’s brain trust (e.g., am still no fan of the delayed final table). But I do admire the effort and what seems to me to be a lot of sincere desire on the part of those running the show to build the WSOP and poker in constructive, profitable ways.

Can’t say there was too much in the way of “breaking news” in the call, especially if the listener had already leafed through the “Official Media Guide” that came out last week. Last year, of course, the news of the delayed Main Event final table and the whole “November Nine” thing had just broke a day or two before, so there was much discussion of that. There was also some real news in there, including word that the final tablists’ prize money would be placed in an interest-bearing account and thus would be increased between July and November.

Like I say, not too much of note, really, in this year’s call. Was kind of surprised at how few reporters seemed to be on the call asking questions, and very few (one?) from “mainstream” press (unlike last year). Those guys are fun, usually, mainly ’cause they are capable of firing the occasional clueless question (“Does the winner get all the money?”). But they also generally give us an indication of what non-pokery types are thinking about poker, and there wasn’t much of that this time around. I think there was one question at the end from the Chicago Sun-Times, but otherwise all came from poker people. (Not sure why that was.)

Also, there only seemed to be about five or six different reporters asking questions, meaning they had to keep cycling back and inviting the same ones to ask new questions. In fact, at the end of the call Pollack said the group could take one more question, but there were no more.

There was some discussion of the new plan for dealing with player conduct, with a tracking system allowing officials to keep up with the repeat offenders as well as some tough talk about penalties, etc. They discussed the planned schedule over on ESPN, who have decided to shun almost all of the preliminary bracelet events in favor of highlighting the Main Event all summer and fall. There was a question about Annie Duke and Celebrity Apprentice, with subsequent references to that show cropping up more often than I expected they would.

One interesting part of the call (to me) was the discussion of the new procedure being instituted this year for electing people to the Poker Hall of Fame, although that was probably because I hadn’t read those two pages that carefully in the Media Guide. Harrah’s is going to involve the public in the voting process this year, which seems to me like it will add some interest in the HOF. And perhaps create some controversies, too.

From May 26-July 2, people can go over to the World Series of Poker website and submit nominations along with 250-word-or-less testimonials. The top ten most frequently nominated folks will be announced some time during the Main Event in July, probably early on I’d imagine. Then in August the HOF committee (not quite sure who is on that) will review the list and decide if any other names need to be added.

In September, the living Hall of Famers -- there’s 16, says the Media Guide, although several people have noticed some errors throughout the sucker, so don’t quote me -- will get ballots and be asked to rank those nominees whom they feel are worth electing to the HOF. Those Hall of Famers will also be able to nominate folks for 2010, if they wish. Also voting on this year’s nominees will be a group of representatives of the poker media “not to exceed the number of HOF voting members” (i.e., not more than 16). The ballots will go back to the HOF committee, and it says “Any finalist receiving 75% or more of the votes” will be enshrined in a ceremony to take place during the November Nine weekend.

Reading this over again, I’m not really sure what the point is of “ranking” the nominees, if all the HOF committee will be looking at is whether or not the nominee got voted as worthy of induction or not. While the process has changed, the criteria hasn’t (I don’t think), with players qualifying for having played against top competition, having played for high stakes, having played consistently well and thus gaining peers’ respect, and standing “the test of time.” Non-players who have also contributed significantly “to the overall growth and success of the game of poker” can be selected, too.

I think it will be interesting to follow this process, especially once the nominees proposed by the public are announced in July. There will be some names in there that definitely belong, some that definitely don’t, and some for whom it will be harder to call. And it may happen that a large number are voted in -- more than the one or two that generally go in each year -- especially on this first pass with the new procedure.

To be honest, as I think about who should be considered no one really springs to mind. I would assume names like Ferguson, Harrington, Negreanu, and Ivey are gonna come up a lot over on the WSOP site when the public starts submitting nominations, but we’ll see how all that plays out.

Here’s a list of the 37 current HOFers:

Tom Abdo, Crandall Addington, Bobby Baldwin, Billy Baxter, Lyle Berman, Joe Bernstein, Benny Binion, Jack Binion, Bill Boyd, Doyle Brunson, T.J. Cloutier, Johnny Chan, Nick “the Greek” Dandalos, Barbara Enright, Fred “Sarge” Ferris, T. “Blondie” Forbes, Henry Green, Murph Harrold, Phil Hellmuth, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, Red Hodges, Edmond Hoyle, Berry Johnston, Jack Keller, Corky McCorquodale, Roger Moore, Johnny Moss, Henry Orenstein, Puggy Pearson, Julius Oral “Little Man” Popwell, “Amarillo Slim” Preston, David “Chip” Reese, Jack “Treetop” Straus, Dewey Tomko, Stu Ungar, Red Winn, Sid Wyman.

The Media Guide somehow leaves both Chan and Straus off of their list. Oh, and that “Sebastian Bilodeau” currently listed over on Wikipedia as a member of the HOF is a phantom, I think.

Who else belongs here, would ya say?

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Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/30/2009 9:37 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The WSOP Media Guide should have have gone with for their list.

I count at most 15 living members of the HOF:

Roger Moore (assuming he's alive)
J. Binion

I like the idea of opening up the process for the Hall of Fame because it's been an exclusive and secret process for people getting enshrined. Hopefully the public will take this seriously and not try some sort of ballot stuffing process by making Durrr or some other random person in the top 10.

Some ideas for this year's HOF class:

Erik Seidel
Mike Sexton
Steven Lipscomb

Some that should be elected in the next few years:
Daniel Negreanu
Phil Ivey
Allen Cunningham
John Juanda
Scotty Nguyen

Also in that interview, Jeffrey mentioned that a handful of media people (along with himself and a couple of other WSOP executives) will be involved in the second phase of the nomination process.

Also of note, no Russ Hamilton at the Champions Invitational or the WSOP according to an interview with Jeffrey Pollack that Gary Wise did last night.

4/30/2009 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Gugel said...

You ranked 41st for the top 100 poker blogs. Congrats :)

4/30/2009 9:31 PM  

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