Monday, August 31, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 13: The Stand-In

A few quick thoughts about the final day yesterday at the European Poker Tour Barcelona festival where John Juanda ended up winning the Main Event, Mustapha Kanit won the High Roller (after an unusual deal was made), and five other side events wrapped up.

The media room was full of apprehension both Saturday night and early Sunday about how long things would go on the last day. Most felt the Main Event would end at a decent hour, with tourney staff also predicting a pre-midnight finish. But the High Roller was a wild card, with 30 players returning and a potential to go much longer.

As it happened, the €10K High Roller finished up first thanks both to the fact that things moved more quickly than anticipated and to an unique finish. With three left, Kanit, Kuljinder Sidhu, and Nick Petrangelo decided on a deal to chop the remaining prize money and end things right then and there, with chip leader Kanit getting the trophy and designation as winner.

Have to say Kanit is becoming kind of a favorite to watch for me, having seen him win a couple of huge ones -- this and the €50K One-Day Super High Roller in Monaco in May -- as well as take down the SCOOP High Main Event where the Italian plays as “lasagnaaammm” (a way-better-than-average screen name).

Kanit is fun to watch, both for his play and the entertainment he provides. In Monaco, Nick Wright wrote a piece highlighting Kanit’s jovial demeanor at the tables. In Barcelona, Kanit’s multi-colored sport jacket was a highlight of a piece by Howard Swains about some of the fashion on display.

Kanit also had a perfect comeback versus Phil Hellmuth during the summer after the pair tangled in a hand in the One Drop High Roller at the WSOP.

After losing a pot to Kanit, Hellmuth trotted out his customary petulance. “Why do we try and bluff the amateurs?” said Hellmuth after the hand (from the WSOP update), betraying his ignorance about who he was playing against. “They are going to give you 500K with a king and no kicker.”

Kanit’s response -- not even hinting at the fact that he is anything but an amateur -- was golden: “I traveled a long way to play the tournament,” he said. “I just want to enjoy myself and play some hands.”

How can you not pull for a guy whose instinct versus Hellmuth’s applesauce is to respond like that?

Juanda winning the Main was kind of remarkable to watch play out, in part because about a week before he’d tweeted that he hadn’t played any live poker at all since the last EPT Barcelona festival a year ago. He made a couple of fortunate hands as a short stack on the final day, and apparently was super short earlier in the event, too. Quite something to see him there at the finish. (There was also a deal in that one, although they left some on the table to play for.)

Finally, I got a huge laugh out of seeing the “Challenge Stapes” segment during the stream yesterday in which I took part. The segment featured Joe Stapleton recreating a hand between Dan Shak and Kamal Choraria from last year’s EPT Barcelona, with Stapes playing both roles and me serving as a silent stand-in for both.

That just above is a photo taken during the shoot (click to embiggen). Here’s the whole segment:

By the way, you can see the original hand from last year’s EPT Barcelona here (which lasts a couple of minutes), and then the table talk afterwards starts here.

Working that 13th-straight day and reporting on the last side events, I kind of felt like a silent stand-in there, too, a sore throat keeping me from talking much and other symptoms reducing me to a kind of dummy version of my usual self. Still, it was great being there and seeing it through to the finish, especially while working alongside so many friends and great colleagues.

Talk to you again soon from the other side of the Atlantic.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 12: A New Challenge

The last day of the EPT Barcelona festival -- originally 71 events, but with an added pot-limit razz (no shinola) up to 72 -- is today, with the Main Event just about to get started and the High Roller beginning shortly thereafter. Everyone is settling in for a long one, especially with regard to the High Roller in which 30 players are returning.

My focus (as usual) will be on the many side events yet to play out, with a number of turbos on the schedule today. However, I will be watching the EPT Live stream today and keeping an eye out for the Challenge Stapes segment, in which your humble scribbler may possibly make an appearance.

They came around the night before looking for volunteers, and when no one else came forward I decided to step up.

I came in early yesterday to help with the shooting of the segment, which like going on EPT Live the day before was interesting to witness, if only to marvel at how things are pulled together behind the scenes.

Not providing any spoilers here as yet regarding what the segment is about or where I fit into it. I was just an extra (natch) and am mostly on the periphery for Joe Stapleton's hijinks. Thankfully (because of my continued sore throat) I was not called upon to deliver any lines.

Check over at the PokerStars blog today for reports on everything, and check out the EPT Live show today as well for that Challenge Stapes segment.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 11: On the Air

Gonna deliver a short post today while I have a few moments. Afraid I’ve been struck down by the “blergy,” just a couple of days from the end of my long stint here in Barcelona. Sore throat, fever, sinus stuff -- it’s taken over.

Was starting to feel it coming on while playing the media event deep into the night on Thursday, then woke up yesterday knowing I wasn’t in great shape. Have secured some meds now and they’re helping a bit, but I’ll be glad to get out from under this soon.

Dinner last night began magnificently with a satifying goat cheese salad then limped to the finish with a crayfish platter which I hadn’t even ordered, but ended up picking through anyway. Smoke all around from neighboring tables didn’t help the throat situation, either.

I described it afterwards as being like getting pocket aces early on, then going frustratingly card dead for the remainder of the meal.

Shortly after getting back to the media room, I was invited to come on the EPT Live stream for a stint. Wasn’t exactly the ideal circumstances for my debut on the stream, as my voice was about an octave lower than normal and my pounding head creating a lot of static when it came to trying to think and talk at the same time.

Had a blast doing it, though, and was marveling the whole time at how the entire EPT Live operation is run. Such a complicated thing, all flowing along incredibly smoothly with a team of folks behind James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton (who were at the mics when I came on). Both of the pics come from Neil Stoddart of the PokerStars blog, shot earlier in the week.

They are down to penultimate days of both the Main Event and €10K High Roller, both of which have drawn enormous, record-setting fields. Check the PokerStars blog today for updates on it all, and watch EPT Live, too, to follow the Main Event as it plays down to a final table today.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 10: Chipping Up

There were a ton of events going on at the Casino Barcelona yesterday, with the Main Event playing down from 343 players to just 110 and numerous side events going on as well.

The big €25K High Roller -- originally called a “Single Day” HR -- finally finished up on a second day of play with Martin Finger taking it down. That was the event in which Brazilian soccer star, member of FC Barcelona, and PokerStars SportStar Neymar Jr played (as did his teammate, Gerard Piqué).

I didn’t even write about that here, which was kind of a fun spectacle, really, especially when Neymar was chip leader in the tournament late in the afternoon on Day 1. You can find lots of articles about his appearance on the PokerStars blog. It’s one of those more-than-poker kind of stories, drawing a ton of attention to the EPT and poker, generally speaking, around the world.

The day ended with the media event which didn’t get started until close to 11 p.m., I think, which might have been part of the reason the turnout was on the small side. There were 21 entries (including reentries), and from that field I managed to make it all of the way to third, which meant a cash as the top four spots paid.

Played decently though made a couple of mistakes along the way, including perhaps waiting one hand too long before shoving a short stack at the end. Also was especially lucky to survive with pocket sixes versus pocket jacks during the second hour (echoing my “Getting It In Bad” post from a few days ago), which made everything after that a bonus. Had a couple of other key hands after that where I got it in with the best cards and the hands held, which was also fortunate.

Both James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton of EPT Live played. Hartigan delivered great commentary while playing at our table, especially during his bustout hand when after getting all in preflop he called the action after each postflop street -- Flop: “Not good.” Turn: “Still not good.” River: “Sh!t.”

It occurred to me along the way to tweet out updates to match the messages that fill my timeline every day. But as I have mentioned here before, I tend not to want to pull out my phone when I play, probably because I don’t play that frequently and so would rather just focus on enjoying the game as it is happening. I guess also I spend so much time reporting on poker tournaments, I like having a break from that as well.

I did snap a pic of my stack once, though (see above), when it was big enough to look like some sort of achievement.

Speaking of pictures, I realized as we got deeper that I was wanting to win not so much for the money but to get a winner’s photo taken by one of the guys here. I’d have gotten a big kick out of having Carlos Monti, with whom I work regularly on the LAPT, take such photo, and I think he would’ve, too. Or having Neil Stoddart (with whom I’ve worked on several events) or René Velli (whom I’ve gotten to know over the last couple of EPTs) snap the pic would’ve been a lot of fun as well. (For an example, see Lynn Gilmartin’s winner pic from a couple of days ago.)

I’ve written here before about how closely the bloggers and photographers work together, often collaborating when it comes to how the reporting gets done. I don’t just mean helping decide which stories get told as part of the overall chronicle of an event, but also helping come up with more imaginative or even abstract ways of communicating what is happening and giving audiences something interesting, informative, and entertaining, too.

Getting that far made my night a late one, and I didn’t get back to the room until around a quarter to three. Got decent rest, though, and so am ready to head back into the maelstrom today, again mostly to focus on the voluminous side action. Check that PokerStars blog for more.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 9: Another Day in the Bag

Day 2 of the EPT Barcelona Main Event played out yesterday. The event ended up with a total starting field of 1,694 after a few more latecomers jumped in at the beginning of play yesterday, just before late registration ended. With them that meant there were right around 1,000 to start the day, and by the time of bagging 343 players were left.

The night ended humorously with Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari looking like he’d be the overnight chip leader, then ultimately ending the day in second position after Nick Petrangelo (who is having an amazing year, by the way) passed him at the end, as did one other player, Amir Touma.

That led the guys working on recaps to express some misery at the necessary changes they had to make to their narratives of the day. Right around then Akkari stopped by the media room to joke that if he had known it would help, he could have written down a different total on his bag. Howard Swains wrote a funny piece recounting that story as part of today’s early coverage.

I was able at last to spend a little time this morning walking around a bit and enjoying the Barcelona sunshine, albeit only for a short spell before heading back in for today’s action. Tonight is the media tournament, which should be a fun way to end the day. There’s also another full slate of side action including an added pot-limit razz event (no shinola), to help keep things interesting.

Check out the PokerStars blog for reports as usual, and know that EPT Live is now up and running, too, which is fun for additionally following the EPT Main.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 8: All in and a Kale

Another busy one yesterday scurrying about following the various side action at the European Poker Tour Barcelona festival.

I forgot to mention earlier in the week one of the side events -- the Women’s event -- which happened over the weekend. Like practically all of the events so far, it had a large turnout (breaking a record) and so once they had played down to three players late Saturday night/Sunday morning, they stopped things and returned on Sunday afternoon to finish it out.

Was fun to see our friend Lynn Gilmartin go deep in the tournament and be one of the three to return on Sunday, then in fact win it.

Many of us in the press room have known Lynn for many years, including working with her. I’ve had the chance to do so with PokerNews and PokerStars, and on a few World Poker Tour events, too, since her move there to be their main anchor.

We had some fun together imagining headlines as she got further in the event and the prospect of her winning became more real, alluding to her always positive mindset and interest in healthy foods. This year she’s even opened a juice bar -- the Jooce Bar -- in her native Australia.

“Smoothie sailing,” was an early one, as was her motto “Life is Good” which Nick employed in his write-up of the event for the PokerStars blog. I was proud of “All in and a Kale,” too.

The first prize for the Women’s event was a little more than the buy-in for the EPT Main, I believe, after Lynn made a heads-up, and she decided to play that, too, and is doing pretty well as it begins. The further she goes, the more headlines we’ll have to conjure.

Back at it today with more side action coverage for your humble scribbler. Check the PokerStars blog for more and you might even come across a pun or three while there.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 7: Getting It In Bad

It was a fairly exciting final table yesterday in the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event, won in the end by Mario Lopez of Argentina. It’s the second time I’ve covered Lopez winning a big one, after his LAPT Chile win back in the spring of 2014.

The most interesting hand I saw yesterday involved Lopez making a huge call versus the young Jose Carlos Garcia, the young Polish player I mentioned a day ago as being unafraid to put a lot of chips in the middle with or without a hand.

In this case Garcia again made a huge overbet, shoving the river on a raggy board containing a jack, a nine, a couple of fives, and a trey (and no flush). The bet (a third postflop barrel) was about four times the pot, I believe, and more than what Lopez had left, but after tanking for five-plus minutes Lopez found a call with Q-9.

Garcia’s hand? 7-4-offsuit. He’d go out a little later in fourth.

Interestingly, all of the bustouts -- aside from Garcia’s and the final hand in which Lopez’s A-Q held against Jonn Forst’s A-6 -- featured players running into hard luck left and right.

One with A-K ran into both pocket aces and pocket kings. Pocket tens lost to pocket deuces. A-8 fell to A-7. You can read the end-of-day recap for details.

Weird, too, was how after Jonn Forst busted Knut Nystedt in third, Forst had exactly 41.1 million chips versus Lopez’s 40.9 million. They’d just colored up again and so the smallest chip was 100,000, so that meant Forst had the smallest possible lead to start heads-up play. (They did an even chop, with Lopez then winning the extra cabbage set aside.)

Back at it today as the EPT Barcelona Main Event continues, the one-day €25K High Roller plays out, and a few other side events are in action. Check the PokerStars blog for the skinny.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 6: On Repetition, Patterns, and Learning

I’ve been living in a hotel room here in Barcelona for over a week now, and have nearly a week to go. It’s very comfortable, there’s a nice view off the balcony, and the breakfast buffet is quite good. It’s located close to the casino as well, which for me on these trips is probably the most important quality-of-life factor as I don’t have too worry too much about carving out time to get to and from my workplace.

Every morning I sleepily stumble into the bathroom, slapping the wall on my way in where three different light switches are location. A couple of them control lights in the bathroom -- I can’t remember which ones.

My first move, generally, is to turn on the shower. There are two rotating knobs on either side of a long cylinder. One of them switches the water flow from the shower head located above to the hand held one on the side, while the other controls the water temperature. I can never remember which controls which, nor which direction of twisting gets me hot or cold. Trial and error gets me to where I want to be, though, and I ready to step inside.

That’s when I invariably realize the floor mat -- new, and neatly folded each day -- is for some reason sitting inside the shower and thus has become soaked through. This I’ve now done every single day, failing over and over to learn the routines and procedures of those who maintain the place in which I am living.

There are other examples of my stubbornly refusing to learn about my habitation, knowing that it is temporary even though two weeks in the same place should be long enough to start absorbing information to help prevent repeating the same mistakes or general awkwardness. But really, I’m helpless. If I counted up the light switches in this room, I’d probably get to 15 at least. I still couldn’t tell you what half of them do.

Of course, I’m spending more time away from the space than inside of it, my workdays having lasted around 13-14 hours each day so far. Looking at being able to carve that back once the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event concludes today and I move back over to other events happening as the festival plays out.

They went from 98 all of the way down to eight last night, with the young, aggressive Polish player Jose Carlos Garcia being the center of attention for much of the day. Garcia was actually born in Spain, though moved to Poland as a child. He’s easily one of the more exciting players to watch, thanks both to the fact that he gets involved so frequently and the relentless pressure he puts on opponents when he does.

Garcia mixes up his play, too, though, making it hard for players to pick up on patterns and respond accordingly. But some have been able to teach themselves how to play back at him, demonstrating a greater capacity to learn than I have each morning in my hotel room.

Garcia got caught a couple of times today making big river bluffs and getting called, in both instances having made big bets on the end that required players to call off entire stacks. Once it was the Austrian, Jonn Forst, making the big call with two pair, and as a result he has the chip lead to start today’s final table. The Argentinian Mario Lopez -- whose LAPT win in Chile I covered a year-and-a-half ago -- is also still in the mix.

Go to the PokerStars blog to read updates of today’s finale. But you knew to do that. I mean we’ve been at this for more than a week now, right?

(Photo up top from the Casa Amatller in Barcelona.)

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 5: My Mind Is On the Blink

“Six more hands,” came the announcement. It was the last level of the night, the tournament clock had been paused, and a card had just been drawn to see how many more hands each table would play. Three would be the minimum, with six or seven (I believe) the max.

René, the photographer who has been working me as we cover the Estrellas Barcelona Poker Tour Main Event, looked at me and rolled his eyes.

“That is appropriate,” he said, and I immediately understood his meaning. It had been a long day, and so it made sense to punctuate it with a longish final sequence.

All of which is to say I’m pretty much beyond exhausted this morning after a fifth straight day of work here at EPT Barcelona, this one carrying late into the wee hours. There was definitely a wall of some kind I ran up against earlier in the day, and by night’s end I was mentally leaning up against it trying my best to remain upright.

Was 2:15 a.m. leaving the casino after a long Day 2 of the Estrellas Barcelona Poker Tour Main Event that saw 984 players play all of the way down to just 98. There was more to do after that, too, making it even later before your correspondent was able at last to catch a few hours’ worth of Z’s.

That pic above, by the way, is one taken by René of the player Chris Da-Silva Oduntan during what became an especially long bubble period yesterday when the clock was repeatedly paused (thus resulting in the longer work day).

Jose Carlos Garcia, the young Polish player with a not very Polish-sounding name, is leading the tournament at present. This makes the third straight EPT I’ve covered in which Garcia has stood out, as he final tabled both the LAPT Bahamas event back in January and the EPT Grand Final Main Event in May. He’s also won a Sunday Million before (in March 2014), and I believe is only 22.

Along with Dzmitry Urbanovich and Dominik Panka, Garcia is helping to form what is fast becoming a kind of new wave of Polish phenoms in poker. I remember once speaking with Marcin Horecki, the Team PokerStars Pro from Warsaw, about Panka (who won the 2014 PCA Main Event), and he talked then about other young stars of the game from his country who were about to break out as well. (I had a chance to talk to Panka, too, back at this year’s PCA.)

I’m bracing for another long day today covering the Estrellas, as they’ll need to get all of the way down to an eight-handed final table for Monday.

Again, check the PokerStars blog for my ESPT reports while the others fill you in on the €50K Super High Roller. They had nearly 100 come out for that one yesterday (a record), with late reg still open until the start today. (Every event is breaking records, in fact.)

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 4: The Neuvember Niner

Just a quick one today before I head back in for what should be another long grind covering the Estrellas Barcelona Main Event here in Barcelona.

The Day 1c flight yesterday was huge, carrying the overall number of entrants to this €1,100 buy-in event to 3,292 -- almost 800 more than they drew last year. It truly rivals the WSOP’s lower buy-in hold’em tournaments, in fact exceeding what they have been getting there for $1K and $1,500 NLHE events.

Had a chance during a break yesterday to speak with the always amiable Pierre Neuville, the 72-year-old Belgian who made it through more than 6,400 players in this year’s WSOP Main Event to be part of the final table (still three months away).

We spoke about his new status as a “November Nine” player and how others are responding to him with observations about that here. He also talked through a very interesting hand from late in the WSOP ME where he successfully bluffed Fedor Holz. Neuville is more than three times as old as Holz who won the 2014 World Championship of Online Poker Main Event and who eventually took 25th in the WSOP ME.

Neuville loves poker, and his enthusiasm is pretty infectious. And of course, being an older player also causes him to inspire us in other ways, too. Check out our chat on the PokerStars blog, and stay over there for more from Spain today.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 3: Big Field, Big Stack, B-Day

The second Day 1 flight at the Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event drew about twice as many players as the first one did, and talk is that today there will be even more coming out, all of which is adding up to a 3,000-plus player field for the €1K event.

That’s way more than the 2,560 that played the same event last year, which was about 800 more than the number who played it the year before that, which was about 800 more than the number who played it the year before that. No shinola. The health of the EPT in general and poker in Barcelona in particular seems plenty strong at present, at least from where I’m sitting.

Not too much to report from yesterday’s Day 1b, another long and busy one for your humble scribbler. Sadly we didn’t get to go back to that tremendous buffet, which means the day’s gastronomical report is without much excitement.

Started noticing the young Spaniard Pablo Gordillo accumulating chips relatively early in the afternoon, mainly thanks to his having final tabled the France Poker Series Monaco event at the EPT Grand Final in May (an event I covered). That was kind of an analogue event to this Estrellas one -- a big Main for a local tour cross-listed with the EPT to help start the festival.

Gordillo was the chip leader late at FPS Monaco and appeared well on his way to winning there before running into misfortune to finish fourth. He’s already final tabled two EPT Main Events as well, despite only just turning 22 last week.

Sure enough, he continued to build and build as the day went on, and now is the overall chip leader in the event with one more Day 1 flight to go.

When midnight came those of us in the press room took note of the fact that it was the birthday of our friend Carlos Monti, the LAPT photographer with whom I’ve worked many times (and have shared stories about here more than once). There were hugs all around from Carlos, and someone produced a Mars bar and a couple of candles which worked nicely as a cake from which we all shared.

Heading back in again for this mammoth Day 1C of Estrellas. Keep visiting the PokerStars blog to follow how things go.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 2: Buffeted About

The first full day of events at EPT Barcelona seem to blow by, the 14 hours or so I spent at Casino Barcelona swiftly slipping past.

That’s because with eight events going on -- all of which got at least some attention from your humble scribbler -- there was always something else to track down and try to chronicle. The turnouts for all of the events were healthy, including for the €1K Estrellas Main Event (our primary focus, coverage-wise), as usually is the case on the EPT.

With the Estrellas the 592 who showed up to play the first of three Day 1 flights might have seemed like a modest total at first glance. But they staged this exact same event a year ago and drew just 438 on Day 1a, then after three Day 1s they had 2,560 players total -- the biggest freezeout field ever for a PokerStars live event. Probably looking at something over a thousand coming out today, and who knows how many on Friday?

Along the way I enjoyed a brief chat with FPS Monaco winner Sebastian Supper, a friendly German who is really more student than poker player. I also greatly enjoyed a kind of incredible buffet for dinner (pictured above), done up much differently than was the case here a couple of years ago.

With all of the events going on, I felt like I was doing a lot of buffet-like sampling all day as I ran around taking away small portions here and there to serve up. Check out the PokerStars blog to see what I dish out today.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

EPT12 Barcelona, Day 1: Barceloner

After heading over to the Casino Barcelona around dinner time yesterday, I ended up sticking around until late -- after two a.m., in fact -- in order to see through to completion the first trophy event of the EPT Barcelona series, the Neymar Jr Charity Home Game.

Steve O’Dwyer happened over just before registration closed for the tournament, was encouraged to play by Team PokerStars SportStar Fatima Moreira de Melo, and ended up taking down the sucker to win a seat into the EPT Main Event that starts this weekend. Halfway through the final table (where O’Dwyer knocked out all but one of the others), he estimated he’d knocked out about 15 players along the way -- not a bad clip for a 59-player event.

After several hours of sleep and a largish breakfast at the hotel, I’m back over at the casino readying for a more standard long day of work. Today things pick up in earnest for the 71-event series, with eight different tourneys going on including the start of the €1K Estrellas Main Event. Last year they had a ridiculous 2,560 entries for that one -- the first big buy-in event of the EPT season -- so we’ll see how many come out for the three starting days this time.

I’m kind of on my own, blogging-wise, here at the start of the series, with the rest of the PokerStars blog team arriving later in the week along with all the PokerNews guys and a bunch of others once the EPT Main and them high rollers roll around. I’m not really alone, though, as plenty of seats in the media room have already been filled. My buddy Carlos Monti, the LAPT photographer, is here already, too, and the two of us enjoyed each other’s company as we worked late into the night.

I guess despite all of the camaraderie during the long workdays on these trips, there’s a lot of time spent on my own, too, when traveling and the hours spent in the hotel room. That I already miss Vera and all of our four-legged friends on the farm doesn’t help too much with that, either. But I do pretty well with the alone time, all things considered.

One day is in the books, and another dozen are left to go. Check over at the PokerStars blog today for more from your soloist scribbler.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chill Out Space

Am scribbling to you this afternoon from the balcony of my hotel room in Barcelona, looking out on what is now a clear blue sky after a morning and midday full of clouds and cold rain. A short, peaceful prelude to the frenzied fortnight to come.

The flight over was as easy as an eight-and-a-half-hour flight can be, I’d say, a mostly serene careening over the Atlantic and to the east coast of Spain. That to the left is from just before landing as we veered to the left into the Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

The seats were only around half-full, if that, meaning I was able to find my own row for added comfort. I might have taken advantage of the chance to stretch out and sleep, but instead managed to stay awake nearly the whole way watching first The Day the Earth Stood Still, then Mean Streets, then Caddyshack.

My ride was waiting for me and I had a fun conversation with my Spanish driver mostly about languages and the various challenges they present us. Arrived at my home-away-from-home for the next two weeks around eight a.m., which meant I was checking in around six hours ahead of the time my room would be ready.

As I mentioned, it was a gray day, and there was a steady rain outside dissuading me from doing too much walking about out of doors. I ended up having breakfast at the hotel, made a short saunter over to the casino during which I didn’t get too terribly soaked, then returned to the hotel and found a comfortable corner in a room designated the “Chill Out Space,” i.e., a business office with lots of couches and pillows where I managed to almost-relax for the remainder.

At last got into my room early afternoon, power napped for a couple of hours, and now am having an early room service dinner before I trot back over to the Casino Barcelona for this Neymar Jr Charity Tournament happening this evening. Check the PokerStars blog for a bit on that tonight, and keep it over there for full-blown coverage of the many side events including the Estrellas Main Event starting tomorrow.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Pre-Travel Tying Up of Loose Ends

Am sitting in the airport this afternoon, having been delivered here by Vera just a short while ago as I am flying to Spain a little later for EPT Barcelona, the kickoff series for Season 12 of the European Poker Tour.

I’ll be arriving there earlier than most of the others, getting to the Casino Barcelona in time to start covering various side events including the €1,100 Estrellas Main Event which is already shaping up to be a huge one. There are a couple of satellites tomorrow as well as a charity tournament hosted by Team PokerStars SportsStar Neymar Jr., then Wednesday things get crazy with nine different events in action.

There are 71 events total on the EPT12 Barcelona schedule, which I believe makes it the second-biggest EPT series ever behind last year’s Grand Final (in terms of the number of events). If you set aside the satellites (which are included among those 71), there are 49 events for which the winners will get a coveted EPT silver spade trophy, if I’m counting correctly.

The last few days I’ve been preoccupied with making sure all sorts of loose ends have been safely tied and other necessary business dealt with prior to my leaving. Besides the usual day-to-day business, I’ve been getting everything set to go for my Nixon class this fall (which I mentioned in passing last week). Unlike Tricky Dick in ’72, I’m not letting others deal with any of the planning or preparation -- I’m doing it all myself.

Sitting here at this moment in the terminal typing away, I feel oddly content that everything seems to be in its right place for the moment -- a truly fleeting feeling, I’m sure you’ll agree. And indeed, it won’t be long after touching down at Barcelona-El Prat Airport that I’ll be launched again into that familiar situation of things being unfinished.

Will check in as usual here once all those ends get loosened up and tangled again. More mañana.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Tuning In: A Few Recent Poker Podcasts

Was doing some work in the barn today and listened to a few poker podcasts while I did.

I first went back about a month to hear Bill Chen’s segment on Episode 371 of the Two Plus Two Pokercast. Chen’s always an interesting one to listen to -- very relatable for me, not because of the depth of his analytical thinking, but for the place of poker in his life as something very important but not all-consuming.

Then I checked out the latest PokerNews podcast -- Episode 326 -- which started with some discussion from Donnie and Rich about the recently completed PokerStars Pro Tour in California and then featured a enjoyable conversation with WSOP National Championship winner Loni Harwood. All interesting and fun and a good quick catch-up on recent events in poker.

Finally I dialed up a podcast I hadn’t tuned into for a while -- Ante Up! -- which just last month made it a full decade’s worth of podcasting. I used to listen to these guys -- Chris Cosenza and Scott Long -- constantly back when they first started out and wrote about their shows here fairly frequently, too. Tuning in again, I had to grin at how much the show had remained the same with the familiar mix of personal anecdotes about their own play, a run-through of news items, and some strategy talk.

They aren’t numbering their shows, but 10-plus years’ worth of weekly podcasts must add up to well over 500 by this point. Kind of brings to mind the story of this blog (into its 10th year now) which I know by this point readers sometimes drift away from and then return occasionally, perhaps surprised to see things still chugging along as usual.

The episode I grabbed was from a couple of weeks back, the one in which they discussed Matt Savage’s recent Facebook poll and discussion inviting players to weigh in about what they thought constituted an excellent tournament structure -- the 7/30/15 episode.

If you didn’t follow that whole discussion from Savage, the Ante Up! show is a good way to catch up with its particulars. (Indeed, as one of the few not on Facebook, I’ll admit I didn’t quite follow the entire structure discussion.) They get into it about the 12-minute mark and the discussion lasts about 15 minutes.

By the way, according to those responding to Savage’s poll, the most-important to least-important factors when it comes to creating an excellent structure were determined to be (1) time; (2) levels; (3) player ability; and (4) chips, or starting stack.

Savage agreed that of these four, the number of chips in the starting stack should be considered the least important -- since the length of levels and schedule of blinds/antes increases can obviously make a “deep” stack less deep, relatively speaking. Meanwhile, Savage agreed with the importance of having well measured levels (e.g., not skipping steps along the way), and that the length of levels does in fact have a lot to do with how great and/or appropriate a structure is.

Gonna have to get Ante Up! back into the regular rotation here. Have always enjoyed the way Chris and Scott approach all things poker, representing as they do the perspective of the great majority of us -- i.e., non-pros who greatly enjoy playing the game and following the stories surrounding it (including the stories involving those who are pros).

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Playing Stars

Last night Vera Valmore stepped outside around 10 o’clock to see if we couldn’t catch a glimpse of that meteor shower -- the Perseids that happens every year right around this time.

Living on the farm, we are especially fortunate to be clear of city lights and other visual noise, and in fact out behind the house we can see nearly 360 degrees’ worth of sky with only trees surrounding the property keeping us from seeing all of the way down to the horizon.

We stepped outside and immediately saw a vivid streak across the sky to the northeast, just above the treetops to our left. A few seconds after that I thought I might have seen another streak go over the pasture to the east, although I wasn’t sure.

We soon took a couple of chairs out into the back yard, expecting an ongoing to show to follow. Alas, we saw nothing more, or at least no more meteors zipping about. We decided that in fact the action probably was happening a little closer to the horizon, below the treeline, and that also there would be more to see later in the night after we hit the sack.

We did, though, still enjoy the almost half-hour of gazing upwards, marveling at the show that’s up there just about every single night as long as there aren’t too many clouds and we’re willing to enjoy it.

It was a little like picking up pocket aces on the first hand and getting action right away, then momentarily being fooled into thinking that was how the game would continue thereafter. Gradually, though, we gotover the feeling that such action was going to be the norm, recognizing it was going to be a quieter game -- though still one worth playing.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

X Marks the Spot

Looking ahead here a bit as I’ll be doing a bit of traveling once again soon, heading back to Barcelona for the start of season 12 of the European Poker Tour. It’s another mammoth series they have planned -- 71 events altogether, counting the satellites, all playing out in the span of just two weeks.

Had a chance two years ago to go to Barcelona, which became an even more memorable trip as I was able to bring Vera along, too. Looking forward to the return.

Stephen Bartley has come up with an inventive post over on the PokerStars blog this week spelling out “The A to Z of EPT Barcelona” in which he’s found something to say about the tour’s history there for each letter of the alphabet -- except for “X,” that is.

What could he have done for “X”? I suppose there was Season X two years ago when I was there, although the EPT doesn’t really go for roman numerals.

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu had a cameo in the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Negreanu finished runner-up in the 10,300 High Roller at Barcelona two years ago to the Austrian Thomas Meuhloecker.

Stephen went with “Youth” for the letter “Y,” pointing out how nine of the 11 EPT Barcelona Main Event winners have been in their 20s. I guess that group postdates Generation X, for whom the cutoff seems to be having a birthdate in the early 1980s. Might have been another way to bring Gen X in there, though.

The X Games have been held in Barcelona before. The increasing size of the fields and number of events at EPT Barcelona might have been connected to “X” as a symbol for multiplication, or to XL for extra large.

Or Stephen could’ve gone with X standing for the unknown, relating it to the problem of who will be the next EPT Main Event champion due to be solved later this month.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From the Editor’s Desk

At the moment I am mostly up to my eyeballs in Nixon-related tasks, trying to finish up the last bit of pregame work for my American Studies course that begins in a little under two weeks.

I mentioned the class here last week -- “Tricky Dick: Richard Nixon, Poker, and Politics” -- and how it uses the angle of Nixon’s poker playing to explore his super-swingy political career that took him from the deepest valley to the highest mountain and back (to paraphrase his own words).

I’ve been preparing some videos to show the students, including some in which I’ve had a chance to work on my iMovie editing skills. In one video I’ve compiled a number of political ads from 1968. In another I’ve strung together some clips from the White House tapes, including transcripts to read as they go by. (I may at some point share some excerpts from some of the material I’ve created here.)

Today I was experimenting with pulling together another short video cutting back and forth between clips of Nixon talking about his poker strategy and much more familiar moments from various speeches (e.g., “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore,” “I am not a crook”).

I’ve always loved editing -- all kinds. Can be incredibly immersive, too, as I toil away carving something down to fit exactly with my idea for what it should be.

As a writer, I’ve often found revision nearly as rewarding, and sometimes even more so, than the initial drafting. I play guitar and bass and used to do a lot of recording with a four-track, and that, too, was always enjoyable, especially when I got around to working with some audio editing software. Editing video is fun as well, especially with a program like iMovie that allows for easy manipulation of clips and transitions.

The editor is so incredibly powerful when it comes to managing the ultimate message that gets conveyed, regardless of the form and content. Such a truth was acutely illustrated to me today as I spliced together a clip of Nixon saying “I knew when to get out of a pot; I didn’t stick around when I didn’t have the cards” with another of him declaring “I have never been a quitter.”

Now that I think about it, Nixon himself intensely engaged in editing throughout much of his career and afterwards, too.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Remembering Wasicka’s Call-or-Fold Dilemma

Poker-wise, today -- August 10 -- has several significances. It’s Doyle Brunson’s birthday today. Kara Scott, Ed Miller, and John Hennigan are also celebrating birthdays today, I believe.

Meanwhile, it was on this date in 2006 that the final table of the World Series of Main Event played out, the one in which Jamie Gold won what is still the largest first prize ever in a WSOP Main Event of $12 million.

Was thinking back a little today to that final table -- the first WSOP ME to play out after I’d started Hard-Boiled Poker about three months before.

I have an article over on PokerNews today focusing in particular on the wild three-way hand that resulted in Michael Binger finishing third and Paul Wasicka making one of the most talked-about folds in WSOP history (before eventually finishing second). Those who remember the hand might find it interesting to relive it briefly. And if you don’t recall the hand, check out the incredibly tough spot in which Wasicka found himself.

The article appears under the heading “Hand Histories,” and I’m kind of thinking of occasionally writing about other famous poker hands in history, in particular ones that highlight an especially interesting strategic decision. Will try to avoid the same old stuff with these, but rather invite readers to hone in on a moment -- like Wasicka’s decision -- and share their thinking about it.

What other hands might work well for “Hand Histories”? Let me know -- I’m all ears.

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Friday, August 07, 2015

America Is In Serious Trouble

Ended up sitting through the entirety of the debate last night -- that is, the “prime time” one in which 10 Republican presidential candidates took turns filing one-minute speeches (more or less), with an occasional bit of accusatory back-and-forth between a few of them now and then. I had on the earlier “happy hour” one, too, featuring seven candidates put through a similar format.

In other words, like most presidential debates (these days), these weren’t really “debates” per se but something else... something resembling, say, shows like The Voice or Big Brother or Survivor or American Idol. I’m referring to the dynamic of having the show’s contestants perform in some manner and then endure some form of judgment, including the ceremonial voting off of some as the field winnows down to finalists and then a winner.

The candidate getting the most attention both during the two hours and afterwards was, not coincidentally, the host of his own reality competition show, The Apprentice (and its popular offshoot Celebrity Apprentice). Or at least he used to be, as apparently NBCUniversal cut ties with multi-billionaire Donald Trump in late June following his controversial statements about Mexicans made not long after announcing his presidential candidacy.

Trump made more, similarly outrageous remarks last night, as those who watched saw and heard, revealing along the way a mostly untutored, almost adolescent-seeming frustration with everything that at times recalls outrage of the mentally-unstable news anchor Howard Beale in 1976’s Network. The more Trump repeats his fallback mantra that the U.S. is in “serious trouble” and “we don’t win anymore,” the more it sounds like Beale’s similarly non-specific cry that he’s “mad as hell” and is “not going to take this anymore!”

Setting aside all of what was said on the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland by the 17 hopefuls yesterday, the most remarkable takeaway I have is the report that 24 million watched the later one on Fox News Channel, kind of a staggering total.

It was apparently the most-watched show ever on Fox News. Reuters says that previously the most-watched primary debate drew less than half that total, with 10.7 million tuning in for a Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama one in 2008. Jon Stewart’s Daily Show finale that aired just afterwards drew 3.5 million, the second-highest ever for that show (just a little less than the viewership for an Obama appearance in late October 2008).

For further comparison, for a WSOP Main Event final table to draw 2 million viewers was considered a big audience in the past, although it has been several years since that total has been reached. An article on Sports Business Daily offers the following numbers for WSOP ME final table viewers: 2.364 million (2008), 2.199 million (2009), 1.563 million (2010), 1.223 million (2011), 735,000 (2012), and 1.234 million (2013). (The last two years were for the 15-minute delayed “virtually live” shows; previously the ratings were for the edited FTs.) Meanwhile I’m seeing various references to the 2014 WSOP Main Event final table drawing about 1.15 million viewers.

Presidential debates -- i.e., between the major parties’ candidates (not before or during the primaries) have traditionally drawn significantly more viewers. More than 60 million watched those Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960 I was referencing yesterday, as was the case for the Obama-Romney debates in 2012. The biggest debate audiences ever, apparently, came in 1980 when around 80 million watched the only debate between Carter and Reagan in late October.

Obviously Trump’s chaotic role in the debate lead-up helped create conditions for the huge viewership. We’ve all seen tournaments where a novice player manages to accumulate a huge stack and the chip lead early without demonstrating much skill at all beyond repeatedly making a similar, aggressive move and managing to survive over and again. We’ll see how far Trump similarly gets along.

The longer he survives, though, the more evident it will become that his mantra regarding America being in trouble is in fact true -- although perhaps not in the way he intends it.

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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Poker and the Debates

I’ve been pretty immersed in presidential campaigns this summer. I’m not talking about the ones for 2016. Rather, the ones from 1960, 1968, and 1972.

That’s because I’m continuing to prepare for a class I’ll be teaching in the fall, kind of an offshoot from the “Poker in American Film and Culture” one that I taught (and have written about here) for about four years or so in the American Studies program at UNC-Charlotte. Gonna take a break from that for a bit to try a different course this fall, one called “Tricky Dick: Richard Nixon, Poker, and Politics.”

The main focus of the new course is obviously Nixon and his three-decade long odyssey of a political career, with much discussion along the way of the Cold War, Vietnam, and Watergate (natch). We’ll use Nixon’s poker-playing background as a starting point for the class, subsequently linking many of the strategies he employed in the context of campaigns, domestic policy, and international diplomacy (and war) with what he had to say about poker.

I’ll share more about the class later on. Today, though, I am thinking about how even though we’re 15 months or so away from the 2016 presidential election, the “race” (as it were) has already begun in earnest, it seems, with the Republicans having the first of what I assume will probably be two dozen or more debates before the G.O.P. finally decides on a candidate.

In fact, there are two debates today -- a kind of “undercard” one involving seven candidates this afternoon, then the prime time one tonight with 10 more. Seems crazily early for it, but four years ago the G.O.P. started up with the debates even earlier, the first one having happened in May 2011 (pictured above).

The 1960 election turned heavily on the debates between Nixon and John F. Kennedy, of course, with the first of the four having the greatest impact and Nixon’s “five o’clock shadow” becoming an iconic image much referenced thereafter. There’s a lot more to the story of the JFK-RMN heads-up battle that year, although I will say I am greatly looking forward to having students watch that first debate and discussing with them some of the moves both players make in it.

Some may not realize there were no debates again until 1976, at least among the presidential candidates. Lyndon B. Johnson was such a prohibitive favorite in 1964, he easily saw how debating Barry Goldwater would be of little value to him -- only a way to lose “chips.” For similar reasons, Nixon opted not to debate George McGovern in 1972, although he’d say he was too busy visiting China and Moscow and running the country to stoop to campaigning (or scrutinizing the criminal activities of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President that would eventually contribute to his downfall).

In 1968 the race was much tighter, and while Hubert Humphrey did challenge Nixon to a debate, the latter opted against doing so, in part because of what had happened in 1960. There was one debate between Robert F. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy on June 1 that year, three days before the California primary. RFK won California, and during his victory speech challenged McCarthy to another debate just moments before sadly being gunned down by an assassin and dying early on June 6.

Looking back on those earlier campaigns, while there was certainly maneuvering happening 15 months out, announcements of candidacies and the engagement of campaigns were all still a good ways off -- never mind anyone actually talking about or having debates.

It’s nonetheless curious to consider the scene at present, including the current position of Donald Trump, the celebrity candidate whose current frontrunner status in G.O.P. polls can only be negatively affected by any direct engagement with his opponents, including in the context of a debate. There’s a kind of funny article on Five Thirty Eight this week ticking off “potential threats to Trump” which is, in fact, merely a list of the necessary stages of the campaign between now and the Republican National Convention in July 2016.

In other words, it seems more or less clear this is a game Trump can’t possibly win. Even so, it’s also clear he will probably continue playing it for as long as he’s able to keep rebuying.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Work Space

Kind of randomly made a decision today to move over into the “office” to work rather than do so on the living room couch as has been my habit for a good while now.

Vera and I spent a long time -- years, really -- looking for the right combination of elements before we finally bought the farm. (Even over a year-and-a-half later, it’s still funny to say that.) One challenge was finding a reasonable-sized non-mansion (good for just the two of us) that was situated on enough land to have plenty of pasture space for multiple horses.

The house we ended up with is a good size, with an extra guest bedroom and one other room we designated early on as my home office. That’s where we set up the desktop computer (and accessories), lined the walls with bookcases and filled them up, and provided good lighting so I could spend many hours a day scribbling away in there.

Thing is, I mostly work on my laptop. And thus almost always I would sit in the living room on the couch, at the kitchen table, or perhaps outside on the back porch if it weren’t too hot. Which means the office wasn’t really being used all that much. The space we’d designating for working was just sitting there -- it wasn’t a work space, it was just space.

Meanwhile working was filling all the other spaces.

It only took me a day of actually working in there, though, to realize how liberating it felt to go back out into the living room and, say, read a little, watch a little teevee, or just have a snack and chill -- especially when the evening came and I wasn’t really working anymore. I didn’t feel the pull to check emails or do any of the other work-like things it’s hard not to do when my job (in the form of the laptop) is sitting right in front of you.

I mean, even the laptop will shut down, going to “sleep” when not in use. Why shouldn't I?

Anyone who has ever worked at home well knows the challenge of not allowing your “workday” grow and grow, taking over practically all of your waking hours. It’s great not to have to “punch in,” but it’s not good at all never to feel as though you’re getting to “punch out.” Such is a phenomenon you sometimes hear the full-time online grinders addressing -- that is, the need to draw a clear line between playing and not-playing (with “play” meaning “work” for them).

Gonna stick with this routine for a while and see how it works. Or plays.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Backstory: Norman Chad on the Remko Report

Listening today to the latest “Remko Report” over on PokerNews in which Remko Rinkema has an entertaining and interesting conversation with Norman Chad, the longtime co-host of ESPN’s World Series of Poker broadcasts.

I’m a big fan of both of these guys. I’ve written here before (not too long ago) about how infectious Remko’s enthusiasm can be -- especially when it comes to poker. And Chad, too, has added a great deal to my enjoyment of the game, dating back of course to those first WSOP shows he and Lon McEachern hosted back in 2003 -- shows I vividly remember watching when they first aired and which get discussed at length on the podcast.

The pair cover a lot over the course of the show, including going back to his pre-poker days and start as a sports columnist at The Washington Post in 1984, a move to L.A. and Sports Illustrated in the early 1990s, then a fortuitous first trip to the poker rooms there in 1999.

They eventually come to Chad’s getting recruited by ESPN for that first seven-show series back in 2003, though before that is some interesting talk about Twitch and Twitter, creativity and writing/creating for an audience (and for oneself), different approaches to poker television (e.g., the “reality show” approach vs. the “poker as a sport” one), and the extent to which poker strategy and poker entertainment overlap (and are distinct).

I like hearing Chad’s discussion of the contributions of 441 Productions -- the group who produced ESPN’s WSOP broadcasts from 2003 through 2010 -- and his praise for how smartly they pulled together the shows, creating all of those many compelling stories and characters that hooked us all.

Chad also talks insightfully (and honestly) about the “creative curve” that exists with any endeavor, in his case referring to the challenge of finding ways to remain engaged and productive after 12-plus years of doing the same thing. (As someone who has kept a poker blog as long as I have, that discussion certainly resonated with me.)

There are a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes details shared regarding those early years at ESPN, and it’s funny to hear Chad confess to some initial (and, as it turned out, inaccurate) ideas about what they were up to, in particular his doubts about whether or not the shows would succeed. For example, his reasoning for why he thought Sam Farha would be a better winner than Moneymaker for poker in ’03 is both humorous and entirely understandable.

I’m kind of a sucker for this stuff -- heck, I was writing about looking back at these old WSOPs just last week. If you’re the same way or at all a fan of televised poker, check out the show.

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Monday, August 03, 2015

The Mistake Is Still There

I am so ready for football. Neither the MLB nor golf is doing it for me these days. I again kind of wish the World Series of Poker would fill this dead period in the sports calendar somehow -- ideally with televised coverage of the conclusion of the Main Event, with the November Nine becoming the August Nine (or something). But that ain’t happening.

Without any games yet to watch, I’m finding myself diverted by the various off-the-field stories swirling about as the season nears. Speaking of, I was diverted a little this afternoon listening to Chris Mortensen, ESPN’s longtime and much respected NFL reporter, talking to Dan Le Batard on his radio show about having been thrust into the middle of this “Deflategate” story involving the defending Super Bowl champs New England Patriots and their quarterback, Tom Brady.

Brady, as you’ve no doubt heard, has been suspended for four games by the NFL following a lengthy investigation into allegations that footballs used by the Pats in the AFC Championship game versus the Indianapolis Colts were underinflated. That investigation culminated in the so-called “Wells Report” in early May that concluded “it is more probable than not” than a couple of equipment assistants for N.E. “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referees,” and also that it is “more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”

Five days after that report was released, the NFL announced Brady’s suspension, with the NFL Players Association promptly appealing it. The team was also fined $1 million and lost a couple of draft picks, penalties which were not appealed.

Thanks to the somewhat absurd procedure previously agreed to by the NFLPA, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell -- who handed down the suspension -- was the one getting to hear the appeal, and last week he upheld the ruling that Brady would be suspended for four games. Now it sounds like Brady will be trying to take the NFL to court over the matter.

Anyhow, backing up to the beginning of all of this there was an article by Mortensen on ESPN on January 21 -- after the AFC Championship game and before the Super Bowl -- appearing under the headline “11 of 12 Pats footballs underinflated.” The article remains on the ESPN site, including the much repeated statements that “The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements” and that “The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations.”

For a few days there, “Deflategate” was all anyone was talking about. In fact the story more or less eclipsed all of the talk about the upcoming game between the Pats and Seattle.

That “Wells Report” in May clarified that apparently neither of those statements were correct. Problems with both are outlined in detail over on the NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk site, if you’re curious. Balls were underinflated, it seems, though not as drastically as those inaccurate statements suggest.

But since the statements were referenced so much from January to May (and then even after May when they were shown to be incorrect), they affected how most viewed the whole episode. And since the NFL often operates like a political candidate insofar as it tends to lean this way or that according to how the public appears to stand, it’s reasonable to think the punishment and denial of the appeal were influenced (indirectly) by the way Mortensen’s report was taken to be true. (That the sources for his reporting -- undisclosed, of course -- no doubt emanated from the NFL itself, provides further reason for outrage among conspiratorial-minded Pats fans.)

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get carried away with summarizing all of that. Mainly I just wanted to respond briefly to Mortensen’s strange self-defense on the DLB show today, where he explained how he had compiled information from multiple sources to deliver his statements about the number of footballs that had been inflated “significantly below” the required levels. When asked what needed to be corrected in his article, Mortensen answered “What needs to be corrected has been corrected,” adding “I didn’t correct it on Twitter, which was a mistake by the way.”

But the article hasn’t been corrected. That’s a screenshot of the opening of it above, captured today (click to embiggen). The mistake is still there.

Later Mortensen gets asked “Is there a need to retract the original story?” and after answering no, he defends using the adverb “significantly” as a judgment call (which is fair) but repeats that “the two pounds PSI, that was obviously an error and clarified and corrected.” Again, it is strange to hear him insist the article has been corrected when it hasn’t been.

Regarding his failing to issue any kind of correction over Twitter, that he seems desirous to defend as an oversight caused by a lack of familiarity with social media. I was just writing on Friday about how Twitter remains for me a kind of ephemeral way of communicating, which tends to make me a lot more forgiving of mistakes, lack of clarity, or other faux pas occurring there. But as I mentioned, Twitter is still a form of communication, and obviously journalists still must adhere to the same ethical practices regardless of the medium they are using for their reporting.

Mortensen almost sounds unaware of the fact that his article wasn’t corrected. Or perhaps it was corrected somewhere else (in another article? over the air on ESPN?) and he’s operating under the assumption that covers it (when, of course, it doesn’t).

Almost sounds like a poker player recounting a misplayed hand who having figured out his mistake early on, begins incorporating self-censure when telling the story of the hand thereafter (“I checked, but I meant to bet half the pot. Anyway he checked, too, and the turn came...”). However, by telling the story in that way he makes the error less apparent to himself, to the point where the correction becomes more obvious to him than the original mistake.

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