Wednesday, April 17, 2013

To the Victor Go the Spoils

These last two weekends I’ve been away at the World Series of Poker Circuit stops, helping report on the Main Events (at Foxwoods and at Harrah’s Cherokee) for PokerNews. Thus was I mostly distracted from all of the happenings down under at the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific which came to a close on Monday.

We did call up the live stream right at the end of the WSOP APAC Main Event on Monday, seeing Daniel Negreanu finally finish off Daniel Marton to win the title. Kind of uncanny to think of Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth winning the last two non-Vegas WSOP Main Events, although the fact that they did kind of highlights how different those MEs are from the one that plays out at the Rio each summer. So far -- and likely for the foreseeable future -- WSOP Main Events in Europe, Australia, or elsewhere are necessarily going to feature smaller fields and more “name” pros.

I wrote a little last week about “Bracelets and Rings” and the whole debate over trying to discover ways to compare and relate the achievements of those who win WSOP events, wherever they happen to take place.

While at the WSOP-C Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee, we couldn’t help but make note of the fact that the prize pool there ($1.284 million) exceeded that of each of the first four bracelet events at WSOP APAC. And how the winner John Bowman took away a first prize ($250,380) that was more than what any of those bracelet winners had won, in fact nearly five times what Ivey got for his victory in the $2,200 (AUD) mixed event.

The debate over bracelets -- as well as the WSOP POY race, in which the WSOP APAC results count -- gets amplified a little thanks to Ivey and Negreanu having each succeeded in bringing another one out of Australia. Negreanu picked up his fifth bracelet, and first since 2008. It was also his first no-limit hold’em bracelet, incidentally.

Negreanu’s also already pretty mindful of the POY race, tweeting out a link to the standings yesterday. Greg Mueller tweeted congrats to Negreanu in response, but added “Its kind of blown [sic] being 400 points behind before event #1 at rio.”

Meanwhile Ivey’s racing Hellmuth now, his nine still well behind the Poker Brat’s 13. Kind of weirdly, none of Ivey’s bracelets have come in hold’em events. By the way, F-Train has provided an interesting breakdown of Ivey’s WSOP performances over the years for Flushdraw.

As a fan of tournament poker and someone who at times likes to follow the big tourneys as though they were sporting events, I can’t help but be a little intrigued by the various ways of marking achievements -- bracelets, rings, points, etc. The players are clearly motivated by such extra rewards, too. Bracelets and rings possess some tangible value, while POY points may or may not have any at all. (I’m not even sure the WSOP POY wins anything anymore.)

I’m reminded of a funny exchange at the final table of the WSOP-C Main Event at Harrah’s Cherokee. It came at a point when Kory Kilpatrick and Hugh Henderson were both battling with short stacks while Weaver was leading with more than twice the chips of anyone else.

Kilpatrick asked Weaver what he was going to do with the first-prize money, and Weaver said he’d put it in the bank. Then Henderson asked if he was at least going to buy something nice first, and Weaver said he wasn’t interested in doing so.

“No,” he said, “I just want the ring or the bracelet... whatever they have here.”

That led to some more funny banter, including Kilpatrick and Henderson saying they’d gladly let Weaver have the ring if they could have the money. But that wasn’t really Weaver’s point, I don’t think. He wasn’t saying he only wanted the jewelry and wasn’t interested in the cash, just that he wasn’t eager to spend whatever money he might win on material goods.

It was one of several humorous moments at that final table, some of which frankly stemmed from the not-always-perfect communication happening between the elder Weaver and the others. It kind of highlighted, though, all of the different reasons why people play the tournaments, and how the various rewards more or less figure into everyone’s thinking, although not uniformly so.

No, just as money has different significance to each individual, so, too, do other spoils like rings or bracelets or points or even the intangible benefits of challenging oneself and competing with others all signify differently, depending on the person.

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