Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Donne

Now seems as good a time as any to comment on the WSOP (I originally wrote this before the end of the last Series, fwiw.) Now any Constant Reader will no doubt already know my view on poker-as-sport. If not, check out my old post 'Sport of Kings'. However, there was a very dim, but surprisingly significant chance that poker *could* have ended up as some kind of sport. But I think this WSOP was the death knell.

I am not the first to comment that a successful sport needs successful characters and the clashes and dramas therein. Skill, determination, domination and revival all wrapped up in the competitive arena. Crucially, these participants are aspirational. Everyday Joe Schmoe wants to be his stars, but appreciates and respects that there is an enormous divide between top pro and amateur. But that desire to approach, if not cross, the divide drives behaviour and ultimately unleashes the capitalistic process. Incredibly, against the odds, WPT season 1 almost had this. The continued success of a handful of players gave a sport-like feel to proceedings. How things have changed. Now there is an Everyman feel to tournament poker. It seems like 'anyone' can win a big event. This generates a certain appeal and plenty of drama. But this phenomenon is more in line with reality TV or a quiz show than a sport, and a pretty skill-less one at that. These kinds of things may generate a burst of interest, but that eventually wanes and the ratings die. And there go the sponsors.

For the last few years random donks have been winning dontaskically. Here are some of my favourites. At a WSOP circuit final table, 4 or so handed, Joe Hachem reraises - crucially putting in half his stack. Fellow chip leader reraises allin cold, i.e. he had no contribution to the pot so far, leaving Joe a handful of chips on his obvious, almost regardless of holding, compulsory call. The reraiser had QJs. This play is so bad I’m struggling for words. A better known one is the hand that crippled Greg Raymer in the 2005 Big Dance. Greg raises and continuation bets the ragged flop. He then goes allin on the turn with his KK. His foe has QJs and calls to hit his flush draw. The foe's play is hugely problematic. Firstly, why float no pair, no draw with no implied odds on the flop? Secondly, he called instantly on the turn - no calculation to even see if he was getting the right price. These plays and the success that ensues are akin to a golfing novice wining the US Open with a broomstick. But it gets worse. The WPT is deliberately deskilling the game. The blind increases actually accelerate once you get to the televised final table and it is not uncommon for headsup to be a battle of 10-15 big blind stacks. Lastly, look at the recent WSOP. Would the participants in any real sporting event be treated as shabbily as the poker mugs this year? Would Wimbledon field tatty old balls and saggy nets a la the big HORSE event? For me the coup de grace was the payouts of the Main Event. Once again the organiser arbitrally creates a final table structure to benefit headlines and not players. Nice gradual increases from 9th to 2nd then kachunk, a double the money increase to $12 million for first. I just wish they had done an overt, ugly deal to fuck up those marketing monkeys.


chaos said...

Never mind the structures, how about a little more contact in our 'sport'.


Big Dave D said...

And people wonder how Dubya got elected?



Anonymous said...

Typical. They were ignoring the rake.

Anonymous said...

High stakes poker is the last shot it seems.

PokerBarney said...

I agree about the WSOP. This year's payout structure was very different to last years - I made a post examining the differences on my blog.

I hope poker is eventually agreed by the general public and media to be a sport. If not a sport, at least a skillful game that takes years of practice to get good at. This get rich quick thing is starting to bug me too, and the ever increasing waistband of the WSOP ME is only making it worse.

Nice post, thanks.

Wintermute said...

BDD, between the time I responded to your comment on 2+2 and the time I read your response, Felicia banned me again (surprise, surprise--what a CUNT). Anyway...


That's the point I was alluding to. You were kinda alluding that this was a to the cloth situation on the turn, or at least that was the between the lines I was reading. Felt a bit like the hand we met on in fact. But with enough money and a tough foe it makes sense to wait.

I was railbirding you today...I see how you've won so much now you luckbucket



I didn't realize we'd ever played a hand! (Don't even know your screename.) Could you refresh my memory? I'd imagine you scooped the hell out of me because my wheel wraps have been catching the 40% end of coinflips recently, and not coming in even close to that 40%. Was actually thinking of reevaluating general strategy on that one.

Anyway, where were you railbirding me today? The only hand I made money on was the one where I had top set with limped aces vs. two others, one w/ underset and the other with nld+fd. Maybe you're talking about the hand where I turned top two + gutshot, got c-r'd by a str, and rivered the gutshot to split?

Big Dave D said...


Banned again? Are you banned for life? It seem like you were well behaved this time. Maybe Beset could launch an appeal?

I only saw a couple of hands. One was the top set but a dog hand with AAA. But the worse one was when you called a massive reraise with just top pair and backdoored a flush. I thought you might have been on the JD again :)



Wintermute said...

Yeah I've been perma-banned I suppose. Felicia hates me.

Yeah, I forgot about the hand where I only flopped top pair with backdoor nut low if memory serves, but the only hand that particular player c-r's with there is AAxx if I remember correctly. Definitely thin, perhaps -EV, but when the pot is laying me 2:1 I'm frequently liable to take a potential 3:1 for metagame for when I am 3:1 down and hit (inspire rage & lack of respect--invaluable) and because it isn't that big of a mistake when I miss. I think in this case it was probably actually around 2:1 if you 2dimes'd it.

The set of aces hand, I was a dog but it's way a 3-way pot with full stacks. I'm never folding top set in a three-way pot on the flop, considering they are likely to share draws. Add to this that my hand is disguised so I will often be getting action from undersets or 2-pair, and I'll gladly take it. It was definitely +EV at any rate.

Anyway, tell me about the hand we played. Or is your handle a big secret?

Big Dave D said...


In general I'm not keen on meta game plays. Enough funky stuff happens that you prolly don't need it, especially with your particular image. I guess there could be an argument for a Spirit Rock style of encouraging variance as your BR is bigger, but Im not sure how much that works at the 5-10/10-20 stakes.

I must admit the AAA hand was very disguised. I actually put you on the draw. Normally it is +EV its just that in this particular lineup you were in bad comparative shape. I guess you realised that when it took so long for the tight player to call :) Im sure you would have swapped hands with him faceup. Before the river that is.

The games looked particular soft, and at PLO too. The crypto 5-10 NL has dried up of late, or at least the fish have. If I do get back into action I will be playing a fairly uninspiring tight game and I will be invulnerable to headshots...I turned off chat a couple of months ago to reduce tilt and I've found its worked no end.



wintermute said...

keeping your alias a secret will help too.


Editor said...

lol, here's an idea. Anytime someone is all in and gets dealt a badbeat, they have a chance to win the pot back. They must run around the table ala "duck duck goose/grayduck" and if they catch the other player before he gets back to his seat, he gets to smack him over the head. If this happens they must proceed to engage in a fist fight... The winner is then awarded the pot
Adds athletism to the game, and more skill to conteract the luck.
Of if you're playing online, you chase down Bill Frist smack him over the head and if you beat the $^*# out of him you are not only awarded a great moral victory and worship by all US online poker players, but you also get to play poker online for life!

check out my poker blog

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