Friday, December 30, 2011

Hard-Boiled Poker 2011 Year in Review (2 of 3)

Getting back to the reviewing business. Speaking of, if you visit Betfair Poker today you’ll find me taking a shot at recounting the top stories in poker for 2011, one of those I-know-I-am-forgetting-something kind of posts.

What a crazy year, really. I mean when we step back and consider how different everything seemed twelve months ago, then think back further just a bit more to those first few post-“boom” years for poker following Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP win in 2003, I can’t imagine anyone being able to come close to imagining all of the drama that has ensued since.


May 2011Was still fairly well mired in the Black Friday funk as May began. I wrote one post titled “We Leave the Sites, the Sites Leave a Legacy” in which I noted how PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and UltimateBet would remain influential for years to come thanks to their prominence during online poker’s early heyday. Followed that with “My Mind Is Going... I Can Feel It...” in which I talked about how I already knew whatever meager poker skills I possess were starting to erode from not playing regularly.

I then wrote what is probably my favorite post of the entire year, “2011 LAPT Lima Postscript: Plotting in Peru,” in which I told one last story from the Lima trip about Dr. Pauly, F-Train, Reinaldo Venegas, and myself enjoying one final game of cards in Lima before departing.

While I cashed out from PokerStars -- and didn’t from Full Tilt Poker -- I did manage to continue playing online. Sort of, anyway. I won a few bucks in a freeroll on Hero Poker to give me a little something with which to goof around, as I described in “The Urge to Merge; or, Zero to Hero.” In “J’Accuse! Tekintagmac at WPT Championship” I wrote about an accused cheater turning up to play the big $25K event at the Bellagio. And in “The ‘Boom’ Eight Years Later” I noted the anniversary of Moneymaker’s big win and marveled at how much has happened since, a topic I got to talk about some more a few days later when “Crashing the Two Plus Two Pokercast.”

The WSOP began, and this time I arranged to hold off going out to Vegas until about three weeks in. That meant continuing to monitor the whole Full Tilt saga, including the worrisome news that the site was having to raise capital before paying back players.

As it would happen, that was just the start of it as far as the Full Tilt fiasco was concerned.


June 2011We all remember Phil Ivey’s stunning announcement that not only would he be skipping the WSOP, but was suing the site he’d represented since it first opened in 2004. In “Ivey to Full Tilt Poker: The Writing’s on the Wall” and “Following the Action” I shared initial reactions to the eight-time WSOP bracelet winner going to Facebook to make public his plans.

It sounded from afar as though the mood at the WSOP was less than pleasant during those first few days of play, with a lot of anxious, “Angry Poker” being played. That same topic came up in a different way on others’ blogs, as I discussed here in “Poker in the Wild: Jesse May and Brandon Adams on Chaos & Order.”

Meanwhile, I reflected on the strange state of online poker in the U.S. in “Lost in America,” what it was like to follow the Series from home (for a change) in “WSOP and POV,” and incited a lot of interesting response and debate with what I had considered a mostly trivial observation in “The Order of the Flop.”

Just before I made my way to Vegas, I asked “How Do You Figure? WSOP Attendance Is Up.” Soon your humble scribbler made it “To Vegas, To Friends,” arriving on June 21, “The Longest Day of the Year.”

Once there I met Kevmath and James McManus, laughed at some railbird hooting at Phil Hellmuth, and was influenced by the huge “Mothership” to believe I was watching “Game Shows in the Desert.” Pretty soon the long workdays started adding up and I was “Getting Loopy.”


July 2011In “Coincidences” I wrote about meeting Julius Goat, who, as it turns out, doesn’t look much like a goat at all. Or a Julius, for that matter.

A post “In Which I Lose to Joe Hachem Playing Chinese Poker” is self-explanatory. I then became a bit self-reflexive about the whole reporting thing in a few posts over the next couple of weeks, such as in “Snapshot,” “I See What You Are Doing, But What Are You Thinking?,” and “A Glimpse,” the latter probably ranking as my second-favorite post of 2011.

Vera visited just before the Main Event began. “Exploding Floats and Missed Flush Draws” chronicles one of the most fun days during the time she was there. Once the ME got going I shared a few more stories, including one titled “The Lottery” regarding a player from my home state of North Carolina who won his way into the WSOP ME via the lottery, then busted on Day 1 in spectacular fashion, and another fun one about a player barely squeaking into the money, “A Short-Stacked Story.”

I met Andrew Foucault and titled the post about our meeting after his blog, “Thinking Poker.” Finally we made it down to the November Nine and our summer’s work was done, by which point we could all “Smile.” Once back home, I collected all of the WSOP posts into “A Reporter’s Notebook” for handy reference.

It was time again to ask “Now What? Online Poker in the U.S., ca. late July 2011.” It was hard not to be affected by “The Impression of Darkness” when it came to the dim prospects surrounding the game’s return. So we waited, occasionally visiting Full Tilt Poker where we were always told “Please Check Back Later.”


August 2011August began with another trip to South America, this time all of the way down to Punte del Este, Uruguay to help cover an LAPT event with Brad “Otis” Willis. Told about that in Pregame, Arrival, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Departure.

By the time I returned the Epic Poker League had finally launched, and soon I was given an opportunity to contribute a column for the Epic site about poker and pop culture called “Community Cards.”

The rest of the month was relatively uneventful, aside from a rare earthquake which we felt here on the east coast. “Was It Just Me?” was the question we all asked each other. I started “Watching the 2011 ESPN Main Event on ESPN.” And I kept wondering like everyone else about those hard-to-fathom “Full Tilt Priorities.”

Of course, when it came to Full Tilt, September would bring us a heck of a lot more to contemplate. Which we’ll remember together tomorrow.

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