Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cards Matters?

Maybe this doesn't belong on a sports blog (and for the record, No, I don't believe that an endeavour in which the fellow pictured at left can be one of the best in the world is a "sport"), but what the hell.

The World Series of Poker has been running for about a month or so in Vegas, and they're now fully into the Main Event. It's a $10,000 buy-in, and there were 8,800+ entries, which adds up to about an $88,000,000 prize pool for this event alone -- the champ is going to collect something like $12M, and all 9 players at the final table will win at least $1M.

If you're interested in following along at all (and don't mind the spoiler if you're planning on watching the ESPN coverage in ~October), the coverage at cardplayer.com is pretty awesome. They throw up 10 or 20 1-2min. videos every day (usually interviews of well-known pros); they'll do an audio webcast of the final table (which is terribly entertaining); and they run a blog ("Live Update") which is updated darn near every 5 minutes while play is underway.

The field in this event is so big that what as recently as two years ago was known as Day 1 is now four days - Day 1A/1B/1C/1D. This has just been completed; about 2200 players started per day, with the field narrowing down to 800-900 each day. Day 2 (actually 2A/2B) is starting today, and after a day off on Thursday, Day 3 will be on Friday, with all ~1400 remaining players finally in the same room playing down. (By the way, that then goes for 7 consecutive days, and they play from noon to 3AM every day. No, it's not a sport, but it sure as hell does require endurance).

I've been following the coverage off and on, keeping up with how the players I generally like from TV are making out. Phil Hellmuth, Jennifer Harman, Antonio Esfandiari, and (Dang!) Mike "The Mouth" Matusow are all out; Daniel Negreanu is still in and is one of the chip leaders (~ top 100 out of 3000+ remaining); Huck Seed, Jesus Ferguson, Greg Raymer, Joe Hachem, and Freddy Deeb are still in as well.

The other entertaining aspect of the live updates is that with 200+ tables playing for hours and hours, you actually get some bad, brutal, 1000-to-1 type Bad Beats. Best one I've seen is this one:
  • Short stack goes all-in with 8S 8C
  • Gets called by a guy with 5H 5 C
  • Flop is 6S 5S 5D, giving the caller quad Fives, which in the immortal words of Jack Singer, is "like... unbeatable!". Except, as Betsy noted, "like unbeatable is not unbeatable"...
  • Turn is 9S
  • River is 7S
  • Giving the short stack the ridiculous runner-runner straight flush to crack the quads
Ouch. Enjoy the coverage if it suits you; I may check back in with updates if I'm so inclined (and if I'm not chastised for writing about poker).

10 Comments:

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Your disclaimer about it not actually being a sport gives you carte blanche to write about it on a sports blog, in my opinion. It makes us positively post-modern.

Two things:

1) Huck Seed? Really? Is that a guy or a girl? And let me guess: they're from Rhode Island.

2) The unbeatable is not unbeatable line reminds me of Swingers: "you always double down..."

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Yeah, Huck Seed is a real male person. He won the Main Event in 1996, back when the grand prize was a mere $1M. I thought he was Canadian too, but apparently I was wrong (though he does play tournaments here).

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger theDrizzler said...

A topical topic as recently a member of Avi's and my other fantasy baseball league is currently competing. The dude won a $160 qualifying tournament on poker stars and picked up 1) the $10,000 buy in to the tourney 2) round trip air-fare plus 9 nights accomodation (no matter how well he does) and 3) a cool grand to keep himself neck deep in liquor and call-girls should he bow out of the tourney early.

I agree that this does not belong on a sports blog or any thing sports at all. And I don't understand how this 'game' has taken over the 'sports' channels. Diamond and Court surfing on the Score has been replaced by poker. And why aren't competitors allowed to smoke or drink? Is it a family event? Will I one day get to teach my kids to not chase a straight?

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

And I don't understand how this 'game' has taken over the 'sports' channels. Diamond and Court surfing on the Score has been replaced by poker.

Ha! I think you just eliminated the need for a post Abboud has been working on. We had that exact same conversation two weeks ago.

I really miss Diamond Surfing...

 
At 1:34 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Yes, I was venting to Andy about this exact thing. I fail to see how poker is any more of a "sport" than something like Scrabble, or Crossword Puzzles. It's a recreational activity, and one that arguably takes less skill than the latter two activities I mentioned. Yet, poker doesn't just make the very occassional appearance on our sports networks, like competitions such as the Spelling Bee or the Westminister Dog Show, it's on every freaking day! Seldom does an hour go by where I can flip by one of Canada's three sports networks without landing on a poker program. And don't even get me started on the requisite skills, or lackthereof. How am I supposed to take this seriously as a sport where any 21 year old can play a few games online, qualify for the major tournaments, and possibly even go on to win? We're not talking about George Plimpton and Paper Lion here, people with no experience can actually go on to win. Would this happen in any real sport? I doubt it.

With that being said, I fail to understand the appeal of poker now that it has gone mainstream? I could see how people thought it was cool when it was a niche activity, and only a select group of people actually understood the rules well. Some activities lose their coolness factor when they go mainstream, like electronic music, and blogging. I feel that poker is one of those activities. Now that everyone and their dog plays poker (even the dogs are trying to emulate the cool kids, I just don't see the appeal. (Note: the last point could have something to do with the fact that I became old enough to gamble at about the same time that poker started to go mainstream, so it simultaneously lost its forbidden/rebellious appeal on two fronts).

Anyway, I'll stop ranting now.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger theDrizzler said...

I don't miss it as much as I used to (diamond surfing) as a result of my mlb.tv subscription, but was there any greater concept for broadcasting a game that is, for all intents and pourposes, not that easy to watch straight through nine innings. But having somebody else flipping the channels to all/any pertinent goings on in the baseball world for and I could sit there for 10 hours straight (which I am prone to do with my mlb.tv subscription).

The only positive about the rising popularity of on-line gaming is that where once you just wasted time playing solitaire, now you can hit the low-stakes tables, play super-conservative, and run the idiots and sleep-deprived right out of their pocket change.

 
At 3:45 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Any idea how I can find out how Bill Simmons is doing without searching through page after page on cardplayer.com?

 
At 5:37 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

My grandmother taught me how to play poker one summer, when I was around 8. It was the talk of the school when I returned in September to show all my friends. Poker was immediately banned. But enlivened with a rudimentary understanding of probabilities, I constructed a primitive pachinko-style machine that was rolled-out at recess to entertain classmates. It turned out to be a very lucrative operation.

That said, neither poker nor pachinko constitute entertaining content for television. It makes as much sense as the endless harness racing, which at least you could wager on if you wanted to.

The only non-sport on sports t.v. that's remotely interesting is the spelling bee, which for competitiveness and tension rivals the 9th inning of a close world series matchup.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

But enlivened with a rudimentary understanding of probabilities, I constructed a primitive pachinko-style machine that was rolled-out at recess to entertain classmates. It turned out to be a very lucrative operation.

You never cease to amaze me.

 
At 7:31 PM, Blogger ToTheBank said...

check the espn wsop blog, simmons busted out early on his first day. Surprise, surprise...

 

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