Friday, January 14, 2011

On the All-Time Money List

It takes money to make moneyWell, things didn’t work out so well for Mr. Moneymaker yesterday at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Main Event. Still sitting in second place with 16 left, a rapid tumble resulted in the 2003 WSOP ME champ begin eliminated in 11th. Ana Marquez, the leader entering play yesterday, also fell short of making tomorrow’s final table, finishing in 10th.

Chris Moneymaker earned $130,000 for his finish, which will bring his overall total tourney winnings to just under $3.2 million. Still keeps him well outside the Top 100, according to Hendon Mob’s current rankings. You need to have at least $3.55 million to be in that exclusive club.

I found myself looking back at that “All-Time Money List” some this week, inspired to do so after Daniel Negreanu reclaimed the top spot following his second-place finish in the “Super High Roller” event at the PCA. The $1 million Negreanu earned there catapulted him back ahead of Phil Ivey and into first. At the moment, Hendon Mob lists Negreanu as having $14,116,192 in career tourney winnings, Ivey next with $13,859,944, and Jamie Gold in third with $12,231,105.

Like Moneymaker, the great majority of Gold’s earnings came from his WSOP Main Event win, with his $12 million first prize in 2006 still the largest amount ever won in a poker tournament. That win put Gold in first for more than three years before Negreanu passed him in September 2009 following his runner-up finish at the WSOP Europe Main Event. Ivey then passed Negreanu during the Aussie Millions in January 2010, sitting in first for nearly a year before Kid Poker took the lead once more.

For many reasons, the list obviously cannot be regarded as an unambiguous indicator of poker ability or greatness. It only tracks live tourney winnings. And it only considers cashes, not taking buy-ins into account. Marcus Bateman wrote a little something about this latter point this week in a short piece on the all-time list. And Negreanu himself pointed out several of the drawbacks of the list, too, during his interview on the Two Plus Two Pokercast this week (Episode 155, 1/10/11).

Hendon Mob All-Time List, 1/13/11They discussed the all-time list some over on The Poker Beat this week, too (the 1/11/11 episode). There Scott Huff brought up an interesting issue related to the list, namely what appears to be the difficulty most players will necessarily have in their efforts to challenge the current leaders.

“It does seem like it’s going to be tough for someone who doesn’t have huge sponsorship dollars behind them or is hugely successful in poker to the point where they are really a brand in and of themselves to really compete on an all-time list,” said Huff, referring in particular to events such as the “Super High Roller” at the PCA which sported a $100,000 buy-in and thus necessarily excluded all but those with the highest bankrolls and/or most backing.

In other words, the guys at the top (like Negreanu and Ivey) are obviously better suited to play in big buy-in events than are folks positioned further down the list, and thus are going to have more opportunities to make million-dollar scores like Negreanu did earlier this week.

Gary Wise responded smartly to the observation (I thought), noting that “those guys [like Negreanu and Ivey] have earned the right to be playing at the higher stakes,” and while there may be other flaws with regard to the list being a true ranking of poker players, there wasn’t anything especially unfair about the guys at the top using their big bankrolls to build further on their record-setting totals.

The exchange made me think about how the issue being discussed kind of reflected what happens all the time in poker -- namely, that having the big stack at the table is always advantageous, giving one more options and often putting one in a better position to increase one’s stack (and by more) than is the case for the smaller stacks. Happens every day at my small-stakes PLO tables where I always buy in for the maximum, immediately enjoying an edge over those content to try to battle with smaller stacks.

All in all, though, I guess I find the list only mildly curious -- a good conversation-starter, perhaps, but not much more.

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Blogger Harry Macpherson said...

Hey, Shamus:

I say this as someone who has read your blog for months:

Do people really, really care about this PokerStars event in the Carribbean? I don't mean to offend you, yet I have a stack of player points greater than my net worth -- and the world of big live tournaments just seems irrelevant.

I care about poker A LOT. I even intend to watch the ESPN2 coverage of the PCA, just because of the novelty. Yet the fates of some TV pro as the Big Tournament Du Jour (BTDJ) leaves me cold.

And if I wanted to play for big money, I could enter multiple upper-level online tourneys for the cost of one BGDJ entry, with no travel expense.

1/15/2011 12:31 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Hey, Marcio... As these last couple of posts suggest, I'm fairly into what's happening at the PCA. And I think there is definitely some percentage of players/fans who are into it, too.

But I definitely see what you are saying -- the calendar is jam-packed these days with tournaments, and one can only watch/follow so many of these (esp. if they involve the same players & essentially the same scenarios over and over) and remain interested.

I think you're hitting here on a big challenge for the media (TV, web, etc.) these days... namely, to try and find ways to keep these big live tourneys interesting (or not to seem "irrelevant"). This ESPN3/ESPN2 sorta-live show tonight seems like an attempt to heighten interest a bit. We'll see how it goes (and if anyone watches/cares).

1/15/2011 9:33 AM  

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