Monday, September 13, 2004

Sport of Kings

YTD: +$63485.73

Whenever I hear Poker described as a sport I laugh. Or cry. It is beyond ridiculous to the absurd. Here are my views on how Poker is like a Sport:

You Can Behave Like a Cock

The ESPN coverage has highlighted some truly terrible behaviour. It used to be that there was a tightening of the lips, a grimace and a firm handshake. Now we can watch the likes of Mattias Andersson contort and roll around like an epileptic contortionist crossed with a hillbilly/porcine coupling, whilst the impassive Saint of Cowboy Murderers, Chris Ferguson, shows not a trace of emotion in the foreground. And many, many more.

You Get an Audience

People watch you. Millions of people watch you. However the same is true in the US for such luminaries as “dog jumping” and “crazy golf”. We must be so proud.

You Can Take Drugs

There have been recent exposes on performance enhancing drugs in the US especially. There are plenty of drugs in Poker, also of the performance enhancing kind. Or at least the players “think” that a quick toot of Nicaraguan Marching Powder in the dinner break improves performance.

And that’s it, really.

On why Poker isn’t like a Sport:

The Luck Factor Does Not Dominate the Skill

Imagine a Wimbledon where everyone in the quarter finals of the Men’s event is not only unranked, but a club player. Then imagine that in the final a guy from the crowd barges his way onto the court and wins the title. Then watch the Reno event for Season 2. Dreams do come true.

Experience is Not Easily Overcome

Any master sportsman not only has genetics as an advantage over his amateur counterparts, but literally a lifetime of preparation, grueling training and countless experience. Even if you are literally a sporting genius this cannot be easily overcome. Unless you take up the “sport” of poker, in which case a few books, a bit of thought, maybe 6 months of play then you’re in with a chance.

The Players Benefit from the Media

Beside the ability to play $5K to $10K tournaments every month I struggle to see what the poker pros have gained from their Sportification. Besides exposing their game plans. Proper sponsorship and added prize money simply haven’t materialized. And this is three years later. It’s even debatable how much value has been added through extra players, as they seem mostly to want to play games that in the long term will destroy their own, probably far-to-small bankrolls, i.e. tournaments and NL cash.

The Sport and TV Negotiate

“We’ve decided that Soccer is a bit boring, so we’re going to get rid of goal keepers. Any problems?”

Poker’s negotiating position to TV seems trousers around the feet, ankle’s firmly gripped. Shorter rounds. No logos. Rights waiving. Speed poker???

I will leave the last word to an auld favourite of RGP, Steve Badger. Steve was the first person to give me a public slap on a forum for talking garbage and although abrasive, is rarely wrong on matters Poker related:

“ESPN is marketing to their own target market, definitely not the "casual fan". The target demographic is 18-34 year old males, and to be blunt, specifically the dork/loser element of that demographic -- people who go into a frenzy over the result of a game that they themselves don't participate in, and even call talk radio to yell at other people about such
games…They can't relate (much) to Doyle or Howard. They can relate to someone about their age making idiotic trash talk, just like they do.

It is basic sports TV marketing, and is partly why ESPN loves poker. Poker *has* people very similar to their prime market. Major sport personalities are not nearly as relate-able to. The viewers can't say "I could do that" when watching Barry Bonds, but they could look at any of this crew and think "that could be me"."


Anonymous said...

Very true Dave. What would especially annoy me if I was big tournament player is the sponsorship issue. What gives the television companies the rights to tell me I can't my sponsor's logo at the final table? I can't see that much is going to change, unless all the big names suddenly decide there not going to play, but that doesn't seem very likely.

PS: How about some limit HE hands, are you playing that much at the moment? I know there's about 8 billon posted every day on 2+2, but I'd like to see your take on some hands.



Big Dave D said...


I've never been a fan of short handed holdem and probably havent played any on purpose in's why:

Anonymous said...


Mostly agree about the current "boom" in TV. The antics of "pokermats" on the WSOP progs I've seen are extremely cringeworthy, yet theres plenty of people posting on forums who think the constant running around and screaming is not completely classless. Give Harry Demetriou his due, his responses were a classic example of how to "Get It quietly" and how to deal with the ups and downs of tourny all-ins.

Talking of "getting It" nice to see a jump in YTD+!

Are you strictly a PLO man now? That game on 'stars often looks crazy. One player I see regularly doing well is he as good/hard to play as he seems from the rail?



Anonymous said...

Dave, I didn't mean shorthanded, I meant 10 handed $15/$30 Limit Hold'em. You mentioned in one of your earlier posts (in June) that this was one of the games you played on Party.

See I *am* an avid reader.

All the best,


Ignatious said...

damnit, i'm an *avid* reader too. and this was a hilarious post - kudos.

Pinkfloydfan said...


Chufty is Richard Ashby in real life...a very aggressive, totally fearless poker player. He has done extremely well live at Luton and the Vic regularly cleaning up against the best players. I'm certain he's just as difficult to play against online.


Anonymous said...

Cheers Lloyd.

I've played cash with him in Sheffield during their festival. (Well I sat there folding while he was ramming and jamming and winning several massive pots!). Yep, hes very loose aggressive. Seems to be fearless on 'Stars too!


Big Dave D said...


Its observational powers like these that make me wonder how I win ANYTHING :-) I may do a holdem special sometime soon, although it will be one from the archives as I am almost exclusively PLO at present.



Big Dave D said...


Yes I am mostly PLO all the time now. Don't worry the YTD goes down as well as up :-(

IMHO, CHUFTY is one of the top 5 players on Stars in the 5-10 PLO. This isn't ego talking, as I don't consider myself to be in that group except on an occassional basis. Refaelmit and P10ker probably vie for the no. 1 spot, with P10ker having the rep, but not always as focussed on the game as he should be. Refael is frighteningly good, although he is rushing too, which is colouring his results.



Andy_Ward said...

Check out "Dodgeball". I really enjoyed it. "ESPN 8 - The Ocho ! If it's nearly a sport, we'll show it !"


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