Monday, December 29, 2014

End-of-Year Lists

With the end of the calendar year come a lot of those “top ten stories”-type lists to help us realize just how poor our short term memories really are. Have seen several poker-related ones, including the countdown of story recaps currently appearing one per day over on PokerNews.

I cast a vote for that PN list, and in past years actually compiled similar lists on my own (e.g., for Betfair Poker). Not as easy as it looks.

Like “best of” rankings, Hall of Fame votes, and other such exercises, lists of a given year’s top stories are always subjective and thus open to criticism and debate. That’s because they not only reflect the various predilections of those making the selections, but the criteria being followed when designating what a “top story” is can be pretty amorphous, too.

Poker, for instance, is a game around which several different subcultures exist, groups that overlap in some ways but are distinct, too, and thus can have very different interests or concerns. For example, the divide between online poker and live poker was once larger than it is today, but there still exist many issues which only affect one or the other, thus making stories exclusively about one either highly important or nearly irrelevant depending on the audience.

Stories about online poker legislation, then, might rate high on some lists or fail to chart on others, depending on who’s doing the listing. Same goes for poker tournament results -- they directly affect many who play poker and are of special interest to fans and those who follow it, but they can be largely meaningless to many others.

Industry news including items about casinos and online sites can often be more significant than many players and/or fans realize, but those stories don’t always capture the public’s attention. Meanwhile cheating scandals and other untoward activities always draw lots of rubberneckers, but sometimes aren’t as important as they seem. And while there may not be as many “poker celebrities” diverting us today as there were a decade ago, the words and actions of certain players and others still fascinate some, thus getting those “Did you hear what he/she said/did?!” stories a lot of play.

Looking back a few years, in 2009 Phil Ivey making the WSOP Main Event final table while winning two other bracelets was a consensus pick for top story that year. In 2010, Michael Mizrachi’s $50K PPC win and final-table run topped a few lists, although Harry Reid’s late-year failed online poker bill got a lot of play in the rankings, too (even topping some lists).

In 2011, Black Friday was the unchallenged choice for top poker story by practically everyone. In 2012, the PokerStars-DOJ-FTP deal provided a significant sequel that many rated that year’s most important poker story. Last year Daniel Negreanu’s big year topped some lists, while the reintroduction of online poker in the U.S. headed others.

So what poker story tops your list for 2014?

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