Around the World of Poker

[Content Disclosure: Detritus, Brain Dump]

Today marks the beginning of the end. The final preliminary event (#56) kicks off today at the World Series of Poker. For those waiting for something other than poker content here on my little blog -- not yet. Today a hodge-podge, a melange even, of those items that have drifting past in the last several weeks. Bits of poker flotsam, foamy discards on the sea of green felt.

I sat with WSOP tournament director Jack Effel the other day while he fielded complaints from players about a staff decision to delay the start of a tournament. I felt a bit like the emperor's slave who stood by the king and whispered in his ear: "You too are mortal." What I told Jack several times was: "You are never going to satisfy all the players, there will always be complaints."

It's interesting how far the tournament staff go to explore the possibilities for what would seem a relatively simple game. Here I point you to a newspaper article about Jack's former business professor, who has been called on to consult on a more modern and equitable structure for WSOP tournament payouts. 

"Effel now manages more than 1,000 employees, and the tournament schedule from May through July grosses more than $200 million and has 57 events. The goal for the players in any event is not only to win one of the coveted bracelets, but also a share of the prize money. The problem was designing an equitable payout structure for a single event which could have over 6,000 players."

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I mentioned before the communication changes brought about this year by Twitter. Players are now giving out not only their chip counts but also the blow by blow of an endless torrent of bad beat stories. The most common word in poker tweets could well be "donkey." If you missed the New York Times article on poker and twitter, it is well worth a read.

"It's completely changing poker for the audience," Joe Sebok says of Twitter. "Traditional poker media coverage is a lot of hand histories online. It's bland and basic. Now you get to hear players exclaim and interact - 'oh I feel so sick' or 'oh that player is a knucklehead.' They upload pictures and they reply to each other. It gives you a sense of the pressure these guys are under and what it's like to be here."

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While we are visiting the esteemed New York Times, they also ran an article written by a mother about her son's poker playing; an article written by a mother about her son's poker obession; an article by a mother about her complete misunderstanding of her son's poker game.

I could go on, but the extremely uneven article goes from an indictment of online poker to a somewhat more level discussion. This only happens when the mom discovers her son is winning and winning a lot! I have read the author (the mom) before, she is a very good writer but in this piece she really lost her edge and never quite got back to a place of saying what she meant, which I can summarize thusly:

I overreacted because I did not understand the game of poker. I was an overprotective mother and tried to prevent my son from exploring an outlet he truly enjoyed and truly excelled at. I eventually figured that out, but I am still stuck in a conservative, backward paradigm which prevents me from saying simply that my kid was right and I was wrong.

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When you around anything for a long period of time, you eventually get sick of the cliches. That being the case, it is important to notice when someone manages to expand the model and come out with a new and fresh take on an old theme. Stud poker is often called the old man's game. You hear over and over: "No one under seventy ever sits at a Stud table." Or, "You know it's a Stud tournament because of all the oxygen bottles."

Howard Lederer came up with a new and refreshing insight on this the other night, when he twittered: "Why do I love playing the $1500 Stud 8 event? Ten times tonight I said to myself: I haven't seen him in 10 years. Good to know he's not dead!"

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Finally, take a minute, really only a minute and sign the PPA petition.