Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tourney Time

Barely any time for writing today as I have much to do, plus to be perfectly honest my mind is truthfully more occupied by basketball than by poker at the moment. First off, Vera and I are going to the Charlotte Bobcats game tonight. Sure, they’re the worst team in the NBA, but they are our team. And it’s bottomless popcorn night, too, so we’ve got that going for us.

I’m also trying to finish filling out all 63 lines on my NCAA bracket today. So far I’ve only really completed eight of them (in pencil, mind you), having the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in each of the four regions winning their first games. The No. 1s have never lost versus the No. 16s, and the No. 2s only very rarely have lost to the NO. 15s, so starting out picking those eight to win at least one game is kind of like calling an all-in with pocket aces.

There are a lot of news items floating around the poker world this week, and that’s not even referring to the actual playing of poker. Which, it seems, a damn lot of people are doing these days, and all over the globe.

Just this past weekend the European Poker Tour, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, and the Latin American Poker Tour crowned new Main Event champions. And of course the World Series of Poker Circuit has already picked up again with its next stop out in Colorado.

Meanwhile, the online games are rolling along as well, especially on PokerStars. Last night the Super Tuesday, Stars’ weekly $1,050 no-limit hold’em tournament, saw an incredible 663 players participating, breaking the previous record by nearly 50 players. Kind of amazing how quickly that event has grown over the last few months. It still has a $300K guarantee, in fact, although I suppose that might get increased now that they are routinely drawing fields to create prize pools doubling that amount.

On the other end of the spectrum, the tiny buy-in MicroMillions 4 series is playing out this week, too, where the guarantees are all also being doubled or tripled in just about every instance. That’s the series a small-timer like me misses the most, as I’d surely be playing in tons of events if I were able.

Cash games are fun, but tournaments bring a different kind of excitement. The inherent narrative structure of the tourneys with their beginnings, middles, and ends fashion stories that fascinate -- particularly if we get to participate as “characters” in those stories, but even from the rail sometimes, too.

I think of the game I’m going to see tonight, a mostly mundane regular-season clash between Charlotte and Toronto (neither of whom is playoff-bound). It’ll be kind of like watching a cash game in which someone will win and someone will lose, but the dramatic structure (exposition, rising action, climax, etc.) will be necessarily muted throughout.

Meanwhile, once the NCAA tournament gets going tomorrow, the contrast in terms of dramatic value will be huge. Just like every hand in a poker tourney directly affects the shaping of a larger plot, so, too, will every play and every game add up to something more compelling to witness.

Tonight should be fun enough, thought. Even if the bottomless popcorn almost seems like some sort of symbol referring to the depths to which this Bobcats team seems capable of falling as they appear destined to finish with an NBA league-worst record for a second consecutive year.

But tomorrow will be more exciting, no doubt. Who do you have in your Final Four?

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