Monday, June 19, 2006

King's Shilling

Well the world certainly turns. As the early birds may know, I am now a writer for Card Player Europe. Those who remember my robust dialogues with Rolf S, the European editor, may be a little surprised. However the Dutch have a long history of being both able to enjoy an argument and also being able to put it behind them. So those of you who have enjoyed my midly patronising style can now pick it up in print. Feel free to send raving, mildly insane letters of praise to Cardplayer. For the blog loyalists, there will still be the usual GOM stuff here, and if you want to kick off something based on my articles, then be my guest. This will remain the same old place to hang out and prove how wrong I am and I don't expect a lot of cross over traffic.

Just so this post isnt completely void of poker content, I thought I would just mention that I seem to be having my usual summer. First losing month of any significance this year, although I have been on meagre rations the last few months too. Still winning more than last year though. Touch wood.

I made the mistake of watching the WSOP Main Event on TV. Andy Black looked good. Aaron Kanter and Tiffany Williamsen though....brrrrrrrr.

Friday, June 02, 2006


It has been said that basically the career of a top class mathematician is basically over before the guy’s thirty. It’s a young man game and basically the rest of his life is spent wistfully retrospective. Now I doubt I could be argued as a top class anything but I kinda know the feeling. The best of this blog is not to come. It’s already shot its bolt. One of my favourites was Sport of Kings. It was one of my classic rage against the dying of the light entries where my true vitriolic colours were revealed.

Now against all common sense I actually watched a few televised tourneys to see if I was another pointless Nostradamus or did I really get a glimpse beyond the veil? First, the unintentionally funny. Mad Marty being a tourney director for a proper live event. Now I reported before that he did some sad TV stuff but those vanity 6 player crapshoots barely qualify as poker. But this was a real tourney! It makes you wonder what the qualifications of a tournament director are. Just turning up? Being matey with a load of players and being involved in the worst tourney decision in TV history?

Comedy apart, WTF about the WPT? I can't understand why any serious pro plays in it. Except for the rationale that if you don't stand outside in a thunderstorm you can't get hit by lightening. It that all the WPT has turned into? An exercise of clutching a lightning rod in the dark and hoping to get zapped? I’m afraid so. Let’s have a further look. One of the obvious statements about tournament poker is that you would like to have more chance to exert your skill when the money matters most. This boils down to having more play at the final table.

How does the WPT compare to say the WSOP circuit in that regard? The truth is frightening, unless you are especially conductive. At a Circuit event the blinds increase on average by 30% in each round. At headsup the players had about 200 big blinds of play between them. All good. In the rollin’ dem bones WPT the blinds increase by 60-70% each round, and at headsup the players have an amazing 70 or so big blinds between them. Which often then turns into 30. So with often nearly $500k to $1million to play for, skill has effectively been removed from the equation.

This is basically turning the WPT less into a sport – no surprise there – and more into a bad reality TV show. This is bad for poker for several reasons. Foremost, if other TV teaches us anything, is that people get easily bored with reality TV after awhile. Not in the general, where there is mountains of the inane crap, but in the particular, where shows quickly die after several series or less. Also, and especially so for the poker is sport lunacy crowd, sponsorship will never be interested in the game until there are recognisable characters. Series one promised this, but now every Tom, Dick and Harry is winning an event. Investment does not follow the anonymous.

So although I am envious of the strike it rich crowd I still steer clear of the tournament scene as I know that I just couldn’t cope with the most important poker experience of my life coming down to red and black, odd and even.