Tuesday, September 30, 2014

His Side on the Edge Sorting: Ivey To Appear on 60 Minutes Sports

Saw that Phil Ivey is going to be on 60 Minutes Sports a week from today on Tuesday, October 7 (on Showtime). Here is a little teaser for the segment you can watch the CBS site (as they make it impossible to embed their slow-loading vids) -- a compelling, even fun three minutes of viewing.

Ivey is going to be on the show talking about his two “edge sorting” lawsuits which I’ve mentioned here before -- the one in which he’s suing Crockford’s Casino in London and the other in which the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is suing him.

Interesting that Ivey is talking at all about the lawsuits, never mind doing so in such a mainstream public forum. Of course, I’m certain his prime motive is to clear suspicions among the non-poker playing public (and perhaps among some poker folks, too) that he’s not a cheater.

I wrote a post here back in May sharing a story of meeting someone who upon finding out what I did for a living said to me without prompting “I can’t believe Phil Ivey cheated!” That anecdote perhaps suggests a need for Ivey to want to acquit himself in the court of public opinion.

That was about a month after the news of the Borgata lawsuit had hit, their complaint having to do with Ivey employing edge sorting at their high-stakes baccarat tables. The Crockford’s lawsuit has Ivey suing the casino for his winnings at Punto Banco which they’ve withheld because of the edge sorting.

Speaking of Ivey, I did finally watch the first WSOP Main Event shows (as I was talking about last week). While they weren’t terribly exciting, it was interesting to see Ivey being almost gregarious at the feature table with his table talk. He was also almost jovial-seeming in his short interview with Kara Scott, which was fun to see.

Ivey is similarly engaging in the 60 Minutes clip. Go ahead -- see if you can watch it without grinning ear-to-ear.

Sort of an interesting hand Ivey has chosen to play. Will be interesting to see how he fares from it. Something tells me that just by playing it Ivey knows he has an edge going in.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Wonder of WCOOP

No time or energy to write today as I’m in the middle of several different projects with deadlines looming.

Just wanted to mention briefly -- and with a due measure of awe -- how crazy it is again to think of how friggin’ big the World Championship of Online Poker continues to be on PokerStars.

For the first three years after Black Friday I kept writing here about the WCOOPs doing just fine without the U.S. players, holding steady and then increasing in numbers from 2011-2013. It’s been another huge series again this year, with the $5,200 Main Event drawing an amazing 2,142 players to create a $10,710,000 prize pool.

Just think of how few live tournaments build such a prize pool during the course of the year. Still amazing to consider, even from this distance.

Labels: , ,

Friday, September 26, 2014

2014 WSOP Main Event Coverage Starts Sunday on ESPN

After a lengthy gap since the last 2014 World Series of Poker shows on ESPN, the Main Event coverage finally gets underway on Sunday night with the first two one-hour episodes of coverage, set to air at 9 p.m. ET.

My understanding is that coverage this year is only starting on Day 4 of the Main Event -- that is, on the day the money bubble burst. That of course means they’ll miss out on some of the potential hype that could have been created surrounding Phil Ivey carrying the overall chip lead into Day 3, as well as the other extracurricular fun that sometimes comes with the early stages of the tourney (like Paul Pierce playing this year).

I remember hearing about this plan back at the start of the summer and being disappointed by it, but now that it’s already the end of September and the shows are finally about to begin, I can understand it. Indeed, something about going back to the beginning and trudging through the thousands of knockouts over several weeks seems especially tedious right now, so I’m feeling more amenable to the decision to move ahead a little further into the event than usual.

That said, the other move from Tuesday to Sunday nights probably isn’t going to be such a good one considering ESPN’s target audience, since most everyone will be watching NFL football when these shows air over the next several weeks. In fact I anticipate that’s what I’ll be doing, too, although I’ll DVR the eps and watch them later.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Sunday, 9/28, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, 10/5, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, 10/12, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, 10/19, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, 10/26, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday, 11/2, 9-11 p.m.
  • Sunday 11/9, 9-11 p.m.
  • Monday, 11/10, 8 p.m. start -- Final Table (live)
  • Tuesday, 11/11, 9 p.m. start -- Final Table (live)
  • I’m a little excited to watch this year, probably because this is the first time since ’07 that I wasn’t there at the Rio when it was all playing out. I obviously followed it all very closely, but I’m curious to see it playing out, even if it’ll surely resemble in most ways what we’ve all seen many times before.

    Labels: , ,

    Thursday, September 25, 2014

    A Free-Flowing Conversation That Occasionally Touches on Mature Subjects

    I listen to a lot of sports talk radio. It’s kind of a default option for me when it comes to selecting some kind of ambient noise while doing barn chores, driving, or performing similar activities that aren’t intellectually intensive. I’ll still toss a few poker podcasts in that mix now and then. But for the most part it’s sports-related chatter that works as the soundtrack, say, when I’m shoveling stalls.

    There are really only two sports shows I tune into regularly these days -- Dan Le Batard’s daily show out of Florida (which I’ve found myself referring to a few times here over the last few months) and the B.S. Report with Bill Simmons (whom I’ve also mentioned here on occasion).

    After ESPN suspended Le Batard for two days a few weeks ago for his involvement in a humorous-though-ultimately-unrealized stunt related to LeBron James’s move to Cleveland, the network has now also suspended Simmons. Starting to think there might be a reason why I’ve gravitated toward these two among the huge roster of pundits at the network.

    Like the Le Batard suspension, the Simmons suspension is laughable, too, not just for its cause but for the length of time -- three weeks (!) -- that ESPN has decided to silence him from podcasting or writing or doing whatever else he does for the site via his Grantland offshoot.

    The press release from ESPN regarding the suspension offers no specifics, merely saying that “those engaged in our editorial and operations must also operate within ESPN’s journalistic standards,” and that since “Bill Simmons did not meet those obligations in a recent podcast... we have suspended him for three weeks.”

    Simmons’s podcast always opens with a disclaimer that it’s “a free-flowing conversation that occasionally touches on mature subjects.” I guess from their action the conversation this week was too “free-flowing” for ESPN’s liking.

    The podcast was the most recent B.S. Report, one in which Simmons and “Cousin Sal” spent nearly an hour trying to guess the lines for the upcoming week of NFL games (as they do every week). It looks like ESPN has actually taken the episode offline, which strikes me as being as absurd as the suspension itself. (An extended excerpt of the show can still be heard here.)

    I enjoy listing to the guess-the-lines shows, not because Simmons has any special insight into sports betting strategy (he doesn’t) nor even because of his football knowledge (hit-or-miss, in my view), but for the passive fun of hearing a couple of fans shoot the breeze about different teams and how the season is going. There are usually lots of genuine grins mixed in, too, amid the prognosticating.

    There was a brief digression in the show wherein Simmons acknowledged the various unpleasant issues that have marked the start of this year’s season, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s cringe-worthy press conference from last Friday in which he mostly made things worse by his evasive handling of various questions. Not coincidentally, that press conference was followed immediately by a lengthy ESPN investigative feature that suggested a few more reasons to doubt Goodell amid its exposure of the Baltimore Ravens front office (the article’s primary target).

    Simmons’ negative comments about Goodell on the show weren’t at all surprising to hear. He’s said (and written) similar things for years about Goodell. In fact when I first read the quotes (prior to listening to this week’s show, and before it was removed) I actually thought they might have been from last week’s episode.

    On the show Simmons called Goodell a liar with regard to what he’s said about the Ray Rice suspension -- or suspensions, I should say. Simmons used profanity (bleeped out), including evoking the word usually intended by his own initials and used as the name of his show (not at all unusual to hear on the podcast). And he added a postscript showing that he was aware ESPN might not appreciate his comments, although he still felts editorially-unrestrained enough to have made them.

    “I really hope somebody calls me or emails me and says I’m in trouble for anything I say about Roger Goodell,” said Simmons, almost as an afterthought (and also almost sounding like he had his tongue in cheek). “Because if one person says that to me, I’m going public. You leave me alone. The Commissioner’s a liar and I get to talk about that on my podcast.... Please, call me and say I’m in trouble. I dare you.”

    It seems obvious that it was this latter statement that earned Simmons his suspension -- not the profanity, his position regarding Goodell, or even his statement that he believed Goodell lied about his knowledge of the Rice case.

    “ESPN’s journalistic standards” were hardly compromised by the podcast. In fact -- and ironically -- those standards are instead called into question by the decision to suspend Simmons.

    I’m curious to see if Simmons does anything at all in response to his suspension -- e.g., speaks out in any fashion regarding it, or perhaps even begins some sort of preliminary way to fashion a break from ESPN altogether. Probably more likely that he won’t do anything, remaining silent for three weeks rather than risk further what had been a comfortable (and no doubt especially well provided for) spot within the ESPN empire.

    Am hoping also Le Batard says something about it all, although again it seems like it wouldn’t be in his personal interest to do so, being employed by ESPN as well. The suspension seems as though it would have to create an obvious “chill” which may affect others working for the network going forward with their commentaries -- either about the NFL or ESPN itself.

    Indeed, it’s a move that makes me think of what it is I’m shoveling out of the stalls. Sort of like what Simmons called Goodell’s actions.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Talking Weight, Not Gravitas, With Hall of Fame Nominees

    After having had the honor of being part of the panel of “poker media” invited to vote in the Poker Hall of Fame the last few years, I’m not part of the process this time around. The WSOP wanted to rotate some new folks into the mix, something I think is a great idea and thus don’t mind a bit stepping aside.

    Since I’m not voting, I haven’t given that much thought regarding the list of 10 nominees (which I talked about briefly here a short while ago). I did notice, though, that two of them -- Ted Forrest and Mike Matusow -- have gotten back onto the gossip pages lately thanks to that weight loss bet from about four years ago won by Forrest.

    Matusow had won a different weight loss prop bet between the pair previously, picking up $100,000 from Forrest after managing to go from 250 to 181 lbs. in less than a year. Then the pair made a second bet that would require Forrest, then 188 lbs., to get under 140 lbs. I’m not sure of the exact terms, but if Forrest could manage it by a specific deadline -- less than a year away, I believe (perhaps just a few months) -- Matusow would owe him $2 million.

    Forrest achieved the feat, and then afterwards they agreed that Matusow -- who didn’t have the funds with which to pay his debt -- would pay Forrest $5,000 a month thereafter with the debt adjusted down to $1.8 million. That would still take over 30 years to pay off.

    Cut to four years later, and Matusow has apparently only paid Forrest $70,500 thus far. Forrest took to Twitter earlier this month, and Matusow now seems to be referencing the collapse of Full Tilt Poker (version 1.0), the fact that the pair had been drinking when the bet was made, and other factors as lessening his obligation.

    There are other details, but to be honest it took some extra effort for me just to get up the energy to look into it that far.

    In terms of tourney results, both players have built up impressive, lengthy lists of wins and deep finishes, which is how both made it onto the PHOF ballot. Even with these accomplishments, I wouldn’t have been too enthused to vote for either, however.

    I don’t say that because of these prop bet shenanigans, but just because when it comes to rating a super-select few above the rest, it’s hard (for me) to think of either as belonging to the toppermost tier of poker people.

    That said, it’s hard to imagine “hall of fame nominees” of any other sport sniping at each other on Twitter in such a fashion. Seems to lack a certain gravitas, doesn’t it? I’m sure similar things have happened, but it still feels like an “only in poker” kind of story.

    Labels: , , , ,

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

    Aggression to the Mean

    Feeling a little angry after the last two weeks’ worth of picking games in the NFL Pigskin Pick’em pool. Can be a heartbreak, that.

    After hitting 11 of 16 the first week (and feeling good that hitting two out of three ain’t bad), I slipped to only getting 8 right out of 16 during Week 2. That was a rough week for many, actually, as the overall average of all the people playing in ESPN’s game was only 7 correct picks.

    Then during Week 3 I only hit 9 of 16 (below the average of 10), giving me 28 of 48 so far. That’s six behind the current leader in our group and squarely in the middle of the pack, and four behind my earlier stated “two out of three” goal.

    Was my first solid week an outlier, and have I now “regressed to the mean” (as they say)? Could be, but mainly slipping back to the middle just makes me feel mean.

    Was on the wrong side of some close ones as usually happens, although I did pick Seattle to best Denver on Sunday, a pick that looked pretty iffy once the Broncos made that remarkable last-minute drive to tie the game. But Seattle won the coin flip to start overtime, then drove the length of the field for a winning TD which according to the new OT rules ended things right there.

    I joked on Twitter after the game following Peyton Manning’s clutch series of passes to tie the game in regulation that he messed up with his final call of the afternoon. “Peyton really choked at the end, calling tails,” I tweeted, referring to that fateful coin flip.

    Some wanted to complain about the new OT rules following that outcome, but I like the rules exactly the way they are. The relative difficulty of scoring a TD with one’s opening drive is significant enough to make it worthy of denying your opponent a possession, I’d say. And I like the pressure that comes with a team either failing to score or only getting a field goal with that opening possession, after which the game does revert to the “sudden death” format.

    In fact, that OT format best replicates the back-and-forth that tends to happen during regulation, where in so many cases those final possessions end up deciding games.

    Makes the games fun to watch, the way they always seem to get all of the way to the river card (so to speak) with the outcome still in doubt. But tough to predict.

    Labels: , , ,

    Monday, September 22, 2014

    Ultimate Poker NJ Busts Out

    The Atlantic City story this year has been something else, with four of the 12 casinos on the Boardwalk having already closed and a fifth one -- the Trump Taj Mahal -- having announced that it will likely follow suit in November.

    When first hearing about the Taj possibly closing it did cross my mind that Ultimate Poker’s New Jersey site would have to find itself a new casino with which to align in order to continue in the Garden State. In New Jersey the land-based casinos get “online gambling permits” and can then partner up with technology providers who also are licensed to operate in the state. UP was the platform for Trump Taj Mahal Associates, meaning that without them Ultimate would need to partner with another casino in order to continue.

    That ain’t happenin’, obviously. Late Friday the news arrived that Ultimate Gaming was both terminating its agreement with Trump Taj Mahal Associates and ceasing operations in the state (while continuing in Nevada). Their press release cited “multiple breaches” by the Trump group precipitating the break-up, the declaration of bankruptcy by TTMA a couple of weeks ago and listing of Fertitta Acquisitions (parent company of Ultimate Gaming) as a creditor owed nearly $1.5 million suggesting an obvious one.

    Just two days later -- at 11:59 p.m. ET last night -- it was all over for Ultimate Poker as the New Jersey site stopped dealing hands. Players are now being told to cash out their funds, which represents one small silver lining when compared to the shutdowns of other, non-regulated sites in the past and subsequent troubles players have had retrieving their funds from them.

    Of course, there wasn’t a heckuva lot happening at the Ultimate Poker New Jersey site, anyway. A week ago I was writing here about the Party Borgata site and the snafu it had during the Garden State Super Series. That got me curious about how the NJ sites were doing, and so I visited PokerScout last week and saw that while the Party site and WSOP.com’s NJ site both had 300-400 cash players (or thereabouts), Ultimate Poker had practically no one playing at all -- like just a table or two, if I recall.

    Ultimate’s NJ casino site was apparently doing fairly well, earning half a milly per month in revenue. But nothing much was happening on the poker side, which makes the site’s swift closure decidedly less dramatic.

    UP is doing better in Nevada, although has been behind WSOP.com’s Nevada site since shortly after the latter went online almost exactly one year ago. And the traffic in Nevada is only a fraction of what’s happening in New Jersey at the moment, making all of the numbers there very modest all around.

    I have never played a hand on Ultimate Poker, having looked into it last summer while in Nevada but deciding not to bother with the hassles involved with getting up and running on the site. The fact that they still have no Mac-based client is kind of amazing, really, and has to be an obstacle that virtually ensures the site will never become more than a very minor player versus any competition whatsoever. (That screenshot is from the page that says -- just as it has for the last year-and-a-half -- that the Mac client is “in the works.”)

    Speaking of, as I mentioned last week PokerStars is poised to enter New Jersey via the Amaya Gaming Group who hold a license in the state -- possibly within the next couple of weeks. And expectations are the site should easily outstrip all others immediately in terms of traffic, and in fact will become an interesting test case to see just how well a single-state site might be able to thrive.

    In any case, the slow-moving start to “online poker 2.0” in the U.S. continues, moving much like a very slow-structured tournament with the stakes being almost trivial (relatively speaking). And, of course, the occasional bustouts.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Talk About Table Captains

    There’s a short compilation of stories about U.S. presidents playing poker today over at the N.Y. Times, pulled together Michael Beschloss. All of the stories are quite familiar to anyone who has looked into the subject before, but for those who haven’t it serves as a quick introduction to some of the highlights.

    Actually anyone who’s read James McManus’s 2009 history of poker, Cowboys Full, will be familiar with almost of the stories in the piece, so much so that I’m kind of surprised Beschloss doesn’t at least acknowledge McManus (a former NYT columnist) in his article.

    For example, when rehearsing the story of the pre-Iron Curtain speech game of poker involving Harry Truman and Winston Churchill (something I’ve written about here), Beschloss includes all of the same details and even implies the same connection McManus does between the Americans’ good showing in the game and Churchill’s declaration of alliance with the U.S. in his speech the day after.

    He also echoes McManus’s connections between cold war politics and poker, although the discussion of the Kennedy-Khrushchev showdown over the Cuban Missile Crisis (and its interpretation as a poker-like confrontation of high-stakes raises and bluffs) has been explored by many other writers as well.

    The article-concluding anecdote about former Secretary of State George Shultz comparing Ronald Reagan’s bargaining with the U.S.S.R.’s Mikhail Gorbachev as “the highest stakes poker game ever played” is the only one included that is not mentioned in McManus’s book. Meanwhile, no mention of Barack Obama’s poker-playing seems a strange omission in the NYT piece.

    Anyone with an interest in presidential politics will find these stories interesting, though. Those interested in poker will, too. And if you’re like me and interested in both, you can’t get enough of this stuff, even if you’ve read it all before.

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    NFL Under Review

    I write here off and on about NFL football, of which I’m an ardent fan. Even though I grew up playing and focusing a lot more on baseball and basketball -- and continued to play hoops well into my adult years -- I now find football and specifically the pro game my most favored sport to watch and follow.

    Trying to pick the games each week in the ESPN Pigskin Pick’em contest adds considerably to my enjoyment, giving me a rooting interest in each game. And I’m a devoted fan of the Carolina Panthers, not quite living and dying with each game but being at least as invested as your average fan.

    Like everyone else who follows NFL -- and now many who don’t, too -- I’m now also following all of the off-the-field crises that are happening with regard to the criminal behavior of several players and the very poor handling of various cases by the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as by the teams involved.

    I was scrolling through the top NFL stories on the ESPN app yesterday and saw how the first six were about these cases involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Dwyer, and Greg Hardy (of the Panthers), with a couple more after that focusing on Goodell and other related issues.

    It reminded me a little of several years ago when I first started this blog to write about a game I loved to play, then a few months later the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was made law and I found myself farther and farther afield when it came to my chosen topics. The actual game quickly receded into the background amid all of the legal wrangling, and then became even further obscured by the many controversies that cropped up soon afterwards involving cheating scandals at prominent online sites (Absolute Poker and UltimateBet).

    The stories of domestic violence, child abuse, drug infractions, and other offenses dominating the NFL coverage these days have risen to such a crescendo that even to try to talk about or focus on the games can be interpreted as imprudently neglecting the problems at hand. Some less committed fans are already turning away from the game, while the diehards are nearing the point of having to defend their continuing to stick with the league.

    In any case, the observation I wanted to share regarding the situation was just a small one, but something I hadn’t necessarily seen others making.

    I’ve complained here before about how the reliance upon replays had turned the experience of watching NFL games into something altogether different from what it had been even a decade ago. With every play potentially subject afterwards to being challenged and thus “under review,” there’s a hard-to-escape feeling of what I can only describe as distrust when watching a game live.

    That is to say, the spectator is better served not to get too excited about anything, because everything has a chance of being disallowed. “The NFL has turned into a game of do-overs and didn't-counts,” I tweeted a couple of years ago when watching a game full of penalties and overturned plays. “No play ever is as it appears.” Such remains the case today.

    An underlying pattern marking the NFL’s inconsistent responses to the recent series of off-the-field incidents, arrests, and legal proceedings has been kind of similar, really, with a lot of “do-overs” and “didn’t-counts” marking their attempts to rule. Players have been suspended, not suspended, and had their suspensions and/or status changed by both the NFL and the teams involved, with each change in course seemingly made in response to the level of outrage being delivered over social media regarding each case.

    Just like on the field, it seems with these off-the-field issues “no play is ever as it appears.” The league’s lack of clarity and consistency regarding its efforts to legislate the conduct of its players has greatly damaged both Goodell and the previously carefully-managed image the NFL had maintained as an important, valuable contributor to society.

    I remain a fan as well as someone who actually believes sports -- including big-time professional sports -- can contribute something worthwhile to our lives. But I suppose that’s under review, too.

    Labels: , , ,

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    You Downloaded, Too?

    The U2 force feed via iTunes of their latest, Songs of Innocence, has been kind of humorous to read about of late. Saw something saying 33 million users had already downloaded it (for free), which sounds like a heckuva lot in terms of traditional album sales (or “sales”), but less remarkable when compared to, say, the 500 million who downloaded Candy Crush Saga last year.

    The humorous part is related to people now wishing to delete the album. Apple has even developed a special site and tool for doing so.

    I was writing last week about my old iPod -- the “classic” that has now been discontinued. In fact I got myself a new one, deciding I’d become attached enough to the sucker to want a replacement.

    I’ve actually never had a U2 album loaded on there. I do own a couple of the old LPs, and in fact during that nostalgia tour of Live Aid I mentioned recently I stopped off to watch their performance of “Bad” which I think was probably a high point of their career and maybe Live Aid (aside from Queen, natch). I’m a huge Brian Eno fan, which gives me a tangential interest in the band, though not enough to have bothered tracking down much post-Unforgettable Fire. My comment on Dr. Pauly’s post about Rattle and Hum from last year pretty much sums up whatever else I might say about the band.

    So no, I didn’t download this new one. And yes, the thought even crossed my mind that the expense of effort it would have taken to do so -- and to listen after that -- was more than I wanted to spend. Kind of a faint echo of the old model of music consumption that has been thoroughly eradicated, the one which required a more conscious and thorough decision to purchase and listen.

    The offer actually made me think a little bit of downloading new online poker sites, something I haven’t done in a long while though used to do with great frequency. While I only ever played (for real money) on around a half-dozen sites, I’d guess I probably downloaded at least 15 or so over the years, maybe more. Kind of recklessly, too, given how some could be a great drain on CPU power or provide other kinds of unwanted bother to our systems.

    That was early on, though. Then as the online poker era proceeded we became more wary with our “purchases” -- be it with money, time, mental energy, or anything else that mattered to us that we’d have to trade away in order to play.

    Less innocent, I guess you could say.

    Labels: , ,

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    It’s Something

    A quick post-post-post-postscript tonight to a long tale most have forgotten about.

    Federated Sports & Gaming, the parent company of the ill-fated Epic Poker League, announced its intention to file for bankruptcy on February 29, 2012. By then the EPL had staged three tournaments open only to eligible tourney players ranked highly enough to enter them according to the newly-created “Global Poker Index” (which managed to survive under new guardians post-EPL).

    It was an uncertain, poorly-conceived attempt to create a semblance of a “professional poker league,” a place “for the best players in the world to compete against the best players in the world,” as EPL Commissioner Annie Duke put it early on. One not insignificant incentive to players participating in the high buy-in ($20,000) events of the EPL was a $1 million freeroll to come after the completion of the fourth scheduled tournament.

    Alas, during its short existence expenses outran revenue at such a rapid clip the bankruptcy announcement came even before that fourth tourney could be held, and the freeroll never materialized. In the end the FS&G owed something like $5 million to numerous creditors (more than a hundred, I think).

    Those interested in a longer rehearsal of the FS&G/Epic story might read through a couple of older posts here -- “We Are Sorry, www.epicpoker.com Cannot Be Found” (August 2012) (which also contains some links to other folks’ reporting on the final days of the EPL) and “Epic Anniversary” (March 2013).

    It’s a sorry story. Your humble scribbler ended up involved in a tangential way as one of a handful of folks recruited by the EPL to write occasional columns for their website (which, as noted, cannot be found today). Since I had one invoice covering a few columns in the system at the time of the bankruptcy, I got included as one of the creditors in the subsequent bankruptcy case.

    I wasn’t owed much, a small enough amount that after the first few months’ worth of mailings regarding the case I became thoroughly ambivalent about the prospects of ever seeing any of it, although continued to feel misgivings about a few friends of mine owed a heckuva lot more.

    I was surprised, then, to receive a letter today from the FS&G that wasn’t just another court summary, but note describing an enclosed check representing my share of the “Final Distribution” -- roughly 10% of the owed amount. Gotta cash this sucker soon, too, I’m advised, “preferably no later than 30 days after receipt.”

    “This will be my final communication to you,” concluded the “Plan Administrator” who had delivered to me this small slice of cabbage.

    I mean it’s a far cry from feeling my being turned with instinct and intellect balanced equally by the love that moves the sun and stars. But it’s an ending.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Technical Difficulties

    We did end up making it out for a few hours’ worth of fun at Farm Aid on Saturday. Turned out to be a nice, mild day weather-wise with plenty of cloud cover and a lot of good tunes. Felt a little uncanny to hear “Seven Nation Army” on a Saturday afternoon and not be at a football game, but rather watching Jack White perform it.

    Got back to our own farm on Sunday where I spent a lot of it camped in front of the teevee for more football while also following various stories online.

    As any football fan well knows, the daily (or weekly) fantasy sites have kind of exploded in popularity of late, with two in particular -- DraftKings and FanDuel -- having emerged as the current Coca-Cola and Pepsi of “DFS.” Commercials for both are dominating sports radio and television these days, meaning even non-participants are becoming more and more aware of their existence.

    I couldn’t help but see from my Twitter feed during the hour leading up to the 1 p.m. kickoffs on Sunday that the FanDuel site had crashed, no doubt due to the heavy volume of folks entering contests and changing their line-ups at the last minute following injury announcements and other game-related news. I also noticed DraftKings swooping in to offer bonuses to the FanDuel folks should they want to transfer their balances over.

    Later in the day there was a similar theme being sounded in my timeline when partypoker’s New Jersey site froze up during the $200,000 guaranteed Main Event of its Garden State Super Series. I believe there were more than 700 players in the $200 tourney -- meaning there was a decent overlay -- when the problems occurred and all the ongoing tourneys had to be canceled. “Technical difficulties” said the site in their explanation afterwards.

    Both FanDuel and partypoker acted swiftly when it came to reimbursing players. I’m not sure exactly how FanDuel handled it, although I did see them tweeting to their followers that affected players could email them for refunds. Meanwhile I believe partypoker instantly paid back its players and then some according to their already established tourney cancellation policy, and from the comments of some who were affected it sounded like all was handled as well as it could have been.

    That said, just like FanDuel has DraftKings to worry about, the New Jersey partypoker site is bracing itself for a formidable competitor as well as word is PokerStars is coming to NJ sooner than later via its new owners, Amaya.

    Customer service is often more complicated than it looks, with the technical just-make-sure-everything-works side of things being as important (or more so) for a lot of people as being prompt with responses to queries, complaints, and the inevitable hiccups. The “online poker 2.0”-era in the U.S. has been a rocky one to say the least. Those who have tried their hand have been earnest with their efforts, I think, but have run up against many challenges that have worked against them.

    It’ll be very interesting to see if that changes soon.

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    On the Farm

    Have been feeling under the weather for the last several days, and so haven’t too much energy to give to this end-of-week post. Also distracted a little because Vera and I are gearing up for a quick trip up Tobacco Road to Raleigh to watch Farm Aid tomorrow where we might find ourselves under some bad weather there.

    The concert will be happening all day and night at the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, an outdoor facility where all of the seats are uncovered. We aren’t planning to take in the full 11-12 hours or so, but we may end up having to set aside going at all should the heavens open up tomorrow as predicted, especially if I’m still fighting off whatever it is that’s given me this sore throat and the sniffles.

    The headliners will be playing during the evening -- Jack White, Dave Matthews, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson. Each performer has an hour blocked off to play. The sucker will be streaming live at FarmAid.org, too, in case you want to look in on it. I mentioned our going to the concert a couple of weeks back when sharing that video of the nifty card trick performed by Willie Nelson (who is known to enjoy a poker game now and then).

    Kind of randomly, I was just reading about the original Live Aid from 1985, as well as watching a lengthy BBC documentary about it. I remember watching a lot of that on MTV as a teen. The event exists as a weird, complicated time capsule today, with lots of footage on YouTube and elsewhere.

    It was at Live Aid -- which raised funds to help with famine relief in Ethiopa -- that Bob Dylan controversially brought up the subject of American farmers needing help, too, during his set. The Farm Aid website misquotes Dylan saying “Wouldn't it be great if we did something for our own farmers right here in America?” when in fact he actually only spoke of giving some of the money being raised -- “one or two million, maybe” -- to help with farmers’ mortgages.

    Stirred things up a little at the time, but that’s what Dylan does. Anyhow, the origins of Farm Aid (which first came together later that same year) are traced back to the comment.

    I imagine we’ll probably go for at least some of the show, no matter what the weather is like. Even if we don’t get there, though, we’re not at all sorry about contributing some dollars to the cause. Now that we own some land ourselves and in fact live right next door to some actual farmers, we’re thinking a little more concretely these days about what it takes to run a farm.

    No, rain or shine, the work never ends on the farm. One of our horses is named Maggie, but she’s a lot more fun to work for than that other Maggie.

    (Click the pic to see a bigger rainbow.)

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Thursday, September 11, 2014

    A Poker Hall of Fame Idea

    The 10 finalists for this year’s Poker Hall of Fame have been announced. No more than two will be voted in as the 2014 class from this group: Chris Bjorin, Humberto Brenes, Bruno Fitoussi, Ted Forrest, Jennifer Harman, Bob Hooks, Mike Matusow, Jack McClelland, Huck Seed, and Daniel Negreanu.

    Negreanu just turned 40 and is thus in his first year of eligibility, and seems an utter shoo-in to get voted in. Being at least 40 (the so-called “Chip Reese” rule) is one of the criteria for selection, along with playing against top competition, playing for high stakes, gaining peers’ respect, standing the test of time, and (for non-players) contributing to the game’s overall growth.

    With the others it is hard to say who among them might earn the needed votes this year. Bjorin, Brenes, Harman, Matusow, Seed, and McClelland have been nominated before, while Negreanu, Fitoussi, Forrest, and Hooks are on the ballot for the first-time. Now a panel comprised of current PHOFers and poker media (totaling around 40 folks) will be casting votes to determine who makes it in.

    The public nominates individuals for the PHOF via the WSOP.com website, then a group comprising the Poker Hall of Governing Council goes through the list to choose the 10 finalists. Current PHOFers also can write in candidates to be included among those 10, although I’m not exactly sure how the Council goes about both choosing from the public’s nominees and working in the written-in nominees.

    In any event, as happens every year there are the usual calls to revise the criteria, the nomination process, and the system for voting. And as usually also happens, those calls are accompanied by references to those omitted from the ballot who some believe should be nominated. This year Carlos Mortensen, David Chiu, John Juanda, and Gus Hansen are among the several players folks are mentioning in this regard.

    Negreanu was one mentioning Hansen as a candidate in a blog post this week, with the Dane also in the news for having crossed the $20 million-mark in online losses at Full Tilt Poker. Talk about contributing to the game’s overall growth!

    Among the comments I saw scrolling by on Twitter as folks debated was mention (again) of creating some sort of physical “hall” or location for the PHOF. There is none, of course, nor would I imagine there really be much of a demand for something like that. Even so, seeing that mentioned again gave me an idea about the Poker Hall of Fame.

    The WSOP could create some kind of temporary PHOF display each summer to show during the nearly two months that the World Series plays out in Las Vegas. They could set it up in the hallway at the Rio, making a literal “hall of fame” where players and the many visitors who come to rail the WSOP could get a look at photos of the inductees with attached bios. They could roll out the display again in November when the Main Event final tablists and others return and the ceremony for the new inductees takes place.

    It would at least make the Poker Hall of Fame better known among those who play and attend the WSOP. And probably spark still more debates, too, in the Rio hallway.

    Labels: , , ,

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    iPod Ode

    Heard some of that rumble today related to Apple announcing a new phone and some other products. Not the most interesting thing to follow for me, although over time I have found myself gravitating over to using a Mac for almost all my computing, and I also have an iPhone and iPod.

    Like I say I wasn’t really paying too much attention to the new phone and whatever else, but I did take note at some of the articles noting how the so-called “iPod classic” was being discontinued. “Apple Quietly Says Goodbye to the iPod Classic” went the headlines, referring to how the product which has been around in some form for 12 years was being “unceremoniously killed off.”

    Shows how fast everything is flying about, that “classic” doesn’t seem odd at all to apply to something just over a decade old.

    I remember Vera giving me an mp3 player -- not an iPod -- about eight or nine years ago. At the time I was actually uncertain I’d ever really get any use out of it, but before long I was listening to it every day. I remember during the early years of poker podcasts routinely downloading them and putting them on the sucker (it would still be a while before we listened to them on our phones). Actually, because I listened to those shows that way, I still have some of those old podcasts tucked away on hard drives here and there.

    It wasn’t too long after getting that first mp3 player that I bought myself an 80 GB iPod. That must have been at least five years ago, perhaps longer. Thing has held up ever since, despite my using it practically every single day, too.

    I still stick with the LP format, almost always putting tunes on there an album at a time rather than singly. That goes against the grain of how music is generally consumed today, but I can’t get away from preferring leisurely listening to a long-player rather than shuffling about from song to song.

    I might just have to grab another iPod before they disappear. Not that this one is showing any signs of giving up, but I think I’ve arrived at a point in the way I listen to music where I don’t want to be without it.

    Labels: , , ,

    Tuesday, September 09, 2014

    Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

    Made it through that first week of the NFL season hitting a decent percentage of winners in the Pigskin Pick’em pool -- 11 of 16 correct (picking straight up), putting me one game back of the leaders who got 12.

    I much prefer picking games straight up than against the spread, not because it is any easier, but because it doesn’t twist me into what to me is an uncomfortable position as a fan having not to root for one or the other team to win, but rather for a certain, amenable final score.

    It’s the same reason why I still can’t bring myself to get involved very much in fantasy sports. As much as I love both sports and numbers -- a pair of predilections that I’ve always thought directly informs my love of poker, too -- I just can’t interest myself in the statistical tsunami of fantasy football.

    The start of the season reminded me of last year. For the first three weeks of the NFL season, 16 games are played each week (then the byes kick in). Last year I’d gotten 10/16, 10/16, then 9/16 for a so-so start of 29 out of 48.

    I was already eight games behind the leader, and thus ended up spending the entire season playing catch-up. By the end I was scrambling, picking lots of upsets in a desperate attempt to close the widening gap and ultimately finishing with just 156 of 256 correct (about the same percentage I’d hit during those first three weeks).

    That was way, way behind our group’s winner who picked 178 of 256 games correctly for the season (an impressive 69.5%). Meanwhile there was one genius out of the hundreds of thousands who played the game on ESPN who correctly picked 191 of 256 last year (74.6%). No shinola.

    In 2012, I hit 166 of 256 (64.8%), good enough to bubble the cash. The year before I also hit 166 of 256, which won me the pool that year.

    I was chatting with a friend yesterday who was showing me the results of picks made by the Football Outsiders over the last few years, including how they did picking games straight up. They’ve improved every year over the last six in that category, getting 171 correct each of the last two years.

    That’s getting just about exactly 2 out of every 3 picks right, a good line to shoot for. Getting 11 of 16 just barely beats it. Harder than it looks, though.

    Labels: , , ,

    Monday, September 08, 2014

    Anyone Can Win… Except Not Everyone Can Win

    Over the weekend I had a chance to read poker pro Sam Grafton’s excellent post on the RunItOnce site inspired by his viewing of the “Big One for One Drop” coverage on ESPN. Titled “Poker and Silence,” Grafton’s article deftly covers a number of overlapping issues currently of relevance not just to the world of poker players but also to those who cover them. He also offers many thoughtful observations about poker’s current cultural status, his comments marked by a thorough understanding of poker’s history -- both long-term and more recently.

    Indeed I could almost imagine assigning the post to my “Poker in American Film and Culture” class as a smart introduction to the current state of affairs for poker. For part of the class we do address the idea of the “poker professional” as it is described in some of our reading assignments, in particular David Hayano’s Poker Faces (from the early 1980s). Grafton offers a nice update to that discussion when he describes “the modern poker pro” and the various challenges and/or responsibilities that come with such a role.

    Incidentally, by contrast consider again that Newsweek screed by Leah McGrath Goodman from last month concerning the threat posed by online poker. On the one hand a writer who lives fully outside of the world she’s describing cobbles together a haphazard feature regarding it, trying to build an ethos upon conversations with a sampling of individuals many of whom also aren’t part of that world (and who also are mostly dimly informed about it). On the other a writer speaks of a world in which he has lived for many years, having gained not just an understanding of how it operates but retained the perspective of how it appears and functions to those on the outside.

    It’s no surprise one article obscures while the other illuminates.

    In any event, I don’t intend to summarize the entire piece -- read it yourself and be enlightened by such intelligent commentary on our favorite game. I did want to point to one idea he shares, however, one of those obvious-yet-often-overlooked points that is in fact crucially relevant to anyone hoping to “sell” or “market” or “make acceptable” the game to those who aren’t already fans or players.

    The point concerns what Grafton calls the “two rather contradictory narratives of how poker functions” often advanced by those wishing to promote the game. “The first centres on the idea that anyone can win a poker tournament,” writes Grafton. “This is needed to encourage a constant influx of losing amateurs and enthusiasts that they too could claim a big pay-day. The second is that this is a game of skill where some players excel in a similar manner to great athletes. If poker tournament winners were just a random series of individuals the game would, of course, be no different to a lottery.”

    That second narrative -- that to win at poker requires skill -- Grafton then relates to the idea of the “poker pro” who most obviously exemplifies that idea for those wishing to distinguish poker from other gambling games. Yet the first one suggesting “anyone can win” is also essential when it comes to making the game inviting to new players. Who would want to venture into such a world were there no hope of succeeding?

    Sure, there are ways of reconciling the paradox -- e.g., to speak of “short term” versus “long term,” or perhaps even to argue that anyone can develop the skills needed to succeed (unlike, say, in most sports where physical limitations necessarily make success at the highest level unattainable). But the paradox remains. One of many in poker, in fact.

    Go read Grafton’s piece, which has a lot more to say than that.

    Labels: , , , ,

    Friday, September 05, 2014

    Remembering Rivers Duking It Out With Duke

    I’m a big fan of old recorded comedy, having spent many years fishing LPs out of the used bins to build a big but not too embarrassingly large of a collection. And of course now that practically everything exists online to be hunted down if one desires, I’ve filled a lot of gaps when it comes to those old records and radio shows, in particular from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

    Both Robin Williams and Joan Rivers were significant figures during that era of comedy, and of course both became even more central in popular culture during the decades since. Both recorded a few LPs, though none of them found their way into my collection. Still, I appreciated how both contributed importantly to American comedy.

    When news of Rivers having passed began circulating yesterday afternoon, many in poker immediately recalled her venomous tête-à-tête with Annie Duke on Celebrity Apprentice from five years ago. I found myself looking back at a post I’d written here the day after the finale of that quasi-competition.

    For Rivers the show existed amid what became an extended final run of heightened fame marked by her appearance on several reality shows, “red carpet” hosting gigs, and the E! network show Fashion Police that helped keep her a household name.

    For Duke being on Celebrity Apprentice was the most notable of several television-related ventures that included turning up on other game shows and a couple of failed attempts starting shows centered around her own then-growing celebrity such as Annie Duke Takes on the World (a game show in which she played poker against amateurs) and All In (a sitcom based on her life -- no shinola).

    At the time Duke was still representing UltimateBet (or UB) well after the site’s massive insider cheating scandal had become public. Indeed, she’d been spending much of the previous year defending the site, repeatedly claiming the site had shown “grace and integrity” in its handling of the matter when even then it was clear that was hardly the case, and of course later on further corruption within UB became even more evident. (She’d part with the site at the very end of 2010, three-and-a-half months before Black Friday.)

    In other words, some of the poker community was already uncertain about Duke’s status as a “spokesperson” of poker even then in the spring of 2009, although on Celebrity Apprentice she was absolutely regarded that way by others on the show and by the mainstream audience. Indeed, when it came to the Rivers-vs.-Duke rivalry on the show, it was Duke’s poker player identity that earned the most remembered bit of vitriol from the comedian, at least among those of us in poker -- even more remembered than Rivers calling Duke a “Nazi” and comparing her to Hitler.

    From that 2009 post:

    “Even if you haven’t been watching the show, you’d probably heard about Rivers’ shots at poker and Vegas. How she referred to the money contributed by poker players to Duke’s cause as ‘money with blood on it.’ How she referred to her many years performing in LV by saying ‘I’ve met your people in Vegas for forty years -- none of them have last names,’ suggesting the nefarious and/or criminal backgrounds of the inhabitants of Sin City...”

    “You’re a poker player... a poker player,” Rivers continues in the clip we all passed around at the time. “That’s beyond white trash.” “Poker players are the most awesome people in the world,” Duke responds, not necessarily her finest moment as a debater. “Poker players are trash, darling... trash,” reiterates Rivers.

    Duke’s subsequent move from UB to the doomed Epic Poker League didn’t do much to prove Rivers wrong, either, when it came to her judgment of Duke. Speaking of, Jeffrey Pollack -- whose reputation in the poker world would sink in the EPL ship along with Duke’s -- was still the WSOP Commissioner at the time of Duke’s appearance on Celebrity Apprentice, and in the WSOP conference call that year would maintain that Duke’s appearance on the show represented a “leap forward for the mainstreaming of poker into our pop culture” and that the “net effect was going to be very good for poker.”

    I’m wondering otherwise in that post, given how badly the game was portrayed on the show. And of course, years later, even poker players are today unhesitatingly siding in retrospect with Rivers against Duke.

    For Rivers, Annie Duke was just one of several with whom she battled heads-up in a long career, her unrestrained comedic style (and personality) often being much more savage than subtle (or more Juvenal than Horace). And while poker and its image might have suffered some collateral damage from their exchange years ago, the game would persevere nonetheless -- despite both of them.

    Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

    Thursday, September 04, 2014

    One Rich Character

    So Dan Colman tops that 1,499-entry field at the $5,300 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event last night to be awarded a $1,446,710 first prize and thus take the biggest chunk of anyone from that $10 million guaranteed prize pool for which there was a $2.5 million-plus overlay.

    It was Colman’s ninth tourney cash of the year, seven of which have been final tables with three victories among them. Four of those final tables were in “high roller” or “super high roller” events, with a fifth in a $10K buy-in tourney from the WSOP this summer. And of course he won the Big One for One Drop for a $15,306,668 prize.

    I believe with his win last night his total 2014 tourney winnings now add up to $21,058,153. Daniel Negreanu sits in second on the 2014 money list with more than $10.2 million, also thanks in large part to his big score in the Big One. Take those Big One cashes away from Colman and Negreanu, and Colman would still be well in front on the year’s money list with the $5.75 million he’s won in other events.

    Meanwhile on the “all-time” list -- which lost whatever small significance it might have had years ago -- Colman’s new total of $21,562,852 allows him to jump a few spots into third just ahead of Phil Ivey and behind Negreanu (first) and Antonio Esfandiari (second).

    Colman’s win last night culminates an interesting summer that saw him swiftly claim the poker spotlight in four rapid scenes. Winning the Super High Roller at the EPT Grand Final in April earned him some attention, with a few who didn’t already know about “mrgr33n13” -- who in 2013 became the first hyper-turbo player to earn more than $1 million inside a calendar year -- learning his name.

    Then, of course, came the One Drop, the interview refusals, and the subsequent poker is “a very dark game” declaration that provoked a little bit of discussion about poker’s place in culture and a lot more about Colman himself.

    Also part of that was Colman’s attempt to clarify his distaste for making heroes out of poker players and hope that “we stop idolizing those who were able to make it to the top.” I explored that stance here in a post titled “Colman, Chomsky, and Irrational Attitudes of Submission to Authority.”

    Then came the sloganeering by T-shirt at the EPT Barcelona Super High Roller final table which besides provoking various other debates about poker (and politics) seemed weirdly to contradict that earlier desire to remain unnoticed and without influence.

    Finally Colman’s victory last night over a large field in the SHRPO Main -- including outlasting a talented final table -- has evoked expected amazement at such a run of successes. It’s almost funny, in fact, to read all of the superlative-laden responses to Colman’s win and think about how they more or less serve to aggrandize his achievements -- that is to say, to do that which he spoke against in that angry “I don’t owe poker anything” Two Plus Two forum post and those “I don’t care about poker” tweets.

    That is to say, simply by continuing to win and accumulate such remarkable tourney totals, the spotlight necessarily remains squarely on Colman, with his wins also helping build further an image -- problematic in its construction, no doubt -- of a kind of poker “hero.”

    Obviously “hero” isn’t the right word (on that I’d agree with Colman). But he’s certainly become an interesting, complicated character, caught somewhere between protagonist and antagonist among the cast in the current poker drama.

    Labels: , ,

    Wednesday, September 03, 2014

    The Guarantee (In a World Without Guarantees)

    I was thinking again today a little about the missing of the guarantee -- by a long, long shot -- at the $10 million Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event, the final table of which is currently being live streamed over at PokerStars.tv.

    By the way, I enjoyed last night’s stream from the SHRPO (the Super High Roller final table) enough to write an article today about it on Learn.PokerNews pointing out how great those shows are not just for being entertained but also for hearing smart strategy talk, especially from the pros who come on as guests.

    Guarantees have become more and more common for poker tournaments, especially live ones with many series’ Main Events featuring them. I believe all of those tourney series I mentioned in yesterday’s post featured guarantees of some sort, though none as gaudy as what they had down in Hollywood, Florida.

    The recently completed WinStar River Poker Series Main Event in Oklahoma had a $1 million guaranteed first prize which helped create a dizzyingly steep payout structure with second place only getting about a third of that amount. Even the WSOP got in on the guarantee-making this year with a $10 million guaranteed first prize for the Main Event.

    Some are discussing the significance of guarantees which do tend to work as part of the marketing of tournaments, usually giving players some indication of what size field to expect. For example, PokerStars is about to start its WCOOP series this weekend, and as usual there are guarantees set for all of the scheduled events. And you can almost guarantee all of those guarantees will be met (easily), meaning those who play in the events will be almost assured of what the minimum field size will be in each tourney.

    Field sizes matter to players. Prize pools matter even more. For those focused on the potential ROI when playing a tourney -- or just getting pleasure from being able to set their sights on a certain ideal payout -- guarantees can be especially meaningful.

    I was thinking, though, in a more abstract way about how paradoxical is the idea of anything being “guaranteed” in poker, a game in which bad play is sometimes rewarded and good play is not. Tournament poker in particular tends to highlight that fact with the players who enjoy the greatest returns almost invariably having enjoyed some form of good fortune along the way.

    That is to say, the game itself constantly demonstrates as a fundamental principle that practically nothing is “guaranteed.” Except, I suppose, for those relatively rare instances of players all in and “drawing dead.” (You know, when you really can say “the turn changed nothing” and mean it.)

    Perhaps that’s why these guarantees assigned by tourney organizers to prize pools seem so meaningful, providing as they do players with at least something they can count on.

    Labels: , , , , , ,

    Tuesday, September 02, 2014

    Short at SHRPO

    Poker news over the three-day weekend focused largely on that Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship, a $5,300 buy-in event with three Day 1 flights and unlimited reentries that sported a $10 million guarantee.

    They ran a similar event last year right about this time, again culminating a long series of tournaments comprising the “SHRPO,” and after it drew 2,384 entries to build a $11,920,000 prize pool the tourney earned a lot of notice. I was there last year at the time, actually, helping cover the first World Poker Tour Alpha8 event that was happening that same week at the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, and I recall the buzz surrounding the event which Blair Hinkle ultimately won to claim a hefty $1,745,245 first prize.

    The return of the “$10 milly” was announced back in May and I remember Rich Ryan then spending one of his “Five Thoughts” looking forward to the sequel while commending the tourney’s organizers for scheduling it after EPT Barcelona (albeit by just a couple of days).

    Barcelona ended up breaking all kinds of records, attendance-wise. Then the end of August ultimately became quite crowded on the poker calendar on this side of the pond with events in California (the WPT Legends of Poker), Oklahoma (the WinStar River Poker Series), Mississippi (Beau Rivage Gulf Coast Poker Championship), Colorado (Colorado Poker Championship), Ohio (Labor Day Deepstack), Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Poker Open Summer Series), and Montreal (Playground Poker Montreal Festival). There might have been others, too, not to mention the WSOP Circuit stops happening on either side as well.

    Even so, it was a little surprising to hear they only ultimately drew 1,499 entries for the SHRPO Main Event, meaning an enormous overlay of just over $2.5 million after the tourney organizers honored the $10 million guarantee. The tourney is now down to 18 players. The EPTLive folks will be live streaming the final table tomorrow, I believe, as well as the final table of the Super High Roller today with James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton handling the commentary.

    Among the chatter over the last couple of days has been the observation that this represents biggest overlay in poker tourney history, exceeding even that International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) event at Wembley last summer where €589,060 had to be put up to ensure a €1 million first prize. The Seminole’s big overlay has also spurred other interesting conversations about the current state of tournament poker.

    Those who think the turnout coming up short at SHRPO indicates something dire about the state of tourney poker in the North America are wrong. The other events listed above all saw healthy turnouts and there’s hardly a shortage of players and/or interest in tournament poker here. Those wondering about the possible negative effects of unlimited entry tournaments upon non-professional players have a point, although I don’t think they really dissuade the non-pros from participating all that much. Meanwhile those speculating about the future of super-big guarantees have a point as well. In any case, one would think the Seminole will probably be a lot more cautious about trying another $10 milly event in the future.

    I guess I’m most intrigued by how complicated the reaction to the SHRPO overlay has been. Rather than simply hearing from players rejoicing at free money in Florida, the angles of inquiry and subsequent discussion has gone in all sorts of directions, including some that seem constructive. The fact is, the overlay has highlighted several issues relevant to players, casinos, tourney organizers, and even the media who cover tourneys, bringing to the foreground concerns that have significance to anyone with an interest in tournament poker.

    Tournament Director Matt Savage summed up the conversation well in a single tweet, I thought, when he noted that “Poker tournaments are a fragile ecosystem, we (Players, TD’s, and Casinos) need to work together to get them to survive and thrive.”

    There is most certainly an “ecosystem” (or special “economy”) in poker, something the rise of tournament poker has made all the more conspicuous over the last decade. And everyone who is part of it affects it in some fashion, whether they work together or not.

    Labels: , , , , ,

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    Laboring Along

    It’s Labor Day in the U.S., a holiday from work for most, although for freelancing types like me it doesn’t really rate much differently.

    Not only will I be engaged in my usual scribbling-related workload today, but as Vera and I have come to realize here on the farm there’s always work to be done. We don’t even grow anything (yet), but just keeping the pastures in check, the barn clean and tidy, the horses happy, and everything else clicking along keeps us plenty busy.

    By the way, that’s Freckles above, one of our barn cats who oversees that all the barn work gets done in a timely fashion. We had three barn cats when we first moved in -- Freckles, Lily, and Mo -- but sadly Lily went missing a few weeks ago after a big storm came through. Freckles, meanwhile, has become more bold in Lily’s absence, although as you can see she continues to keep her distance.

    Speaking of keeping busy over the holiday weekend, I noticed a lot of poker tourneys happening all over the continent these last few days, including, of course, that Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Championship down in Hollywood, Florida where it looks as though they’ve experienced a massive overlay after failing to draw enough entries to meet their big $10 million guarantee.

    Think I’ll write something tomorrow about that, but today I’ll give myself a bit of a blog break at least in order to get some other work done.

    I mean if I don’t shovel all this stuff today, it piles up, you know?

    Labels: , ,

    Newer Posts
    Older Posts

    Copyright © 2006-2021 Hard-Boiled Poker.
    All Rights Reserved.