shipitfish: (partly-cloudy-patriot)

Paul Phillips (aka [livejournal.com profile] extempore) doesn't post much in his LiveJournal about poker anymore, because Tournament Scrabble appears to be his preferred game these days. However, he did this week post about something I had queued to post about myself, so now, I'll just reference his article to start and add my own thoughts.

Like Paul, I was late to listen to the Jamie Gold interview on the Rounders Canadian poker radio show. I was, like Paul, appalled by what I heard. I actually only disagree with Paul on one point: I think Jaime is particularly bad as far as champions go and much more arrogant and self-obsessed than most new champions.

Sure, some of the very young (under 23) WPT winners have been that way, but that's what you expect from a kid like that. But, Jaime is in his 30's and should be old enough and mature enough not to act this way. But, he's a Hollywood agent by trade, and obviously has taken that life attitude to heart. Unabashed self-promotion, often accompanied with nasty denigration of rivals, is considered a virtue in that world, and his interview shows he thinks the same in the poker world.

The worst of his self-indulgences were his claims that his amazing play had Allen Cunningham literally shaking with fear. I don't dispute that Alan was shaking, of course, I noticed it during the live broadcast. But, it was probably either nerves at playing the final table of the biggest poker tournament ever held, or some really smart reverse tell. Jamie is unforgivably conceited to think that Allen's fear of Jamie made Allen shake.

There's more such disgusting stuff in the interview, including a heads-up challenge to Hellmuth for a one million cash game. This guy is intolerable.

That said, I don't think this fellow has an obligation to be a “good champion” or “great ambassador for poker”. We as the poker community would prefer that, but it's not part of some contractual obligation for winning the Big One. I think what Mr. Gold is going to do for us is make us realize how good we've had it for a few years running now. Hachem was a kind gentleman who loved talking about poker and sharing himself as poker's representative. I think Raymer was in some ways the quintessential champion that one would want. Moneymaker, while he wasn't as good as he could be, tried hard and did pretty well. Indeed, all three of them carried themselves with just the right mix of pride and humility (it takes luck as well as skill to win tournaments). Jamie is another type all together.

I wonder some if the press people at PokerStars actually are to thank for this. All three of our other recent champions signed deals ahead of time or almost on the spot with that site, and therefore their public image was surely influenced by their contracts. Gold has no contract yet, although there is some indication that he has an affiliation of some sort with Bodog (which is also a point of fact in the pending law suit). I don't think the cause of poker popularity is going to be advanced by our champion this year as it was in previous years. Oh well, we'll just have to survive the year and keep poker's popularity moving with other means, and hope for a better champion next year.

In the meantime, I actually hope that Gold keeps to his other (actually conflicting) statements that he doesn't want the limelight. We'd be better off if he is a strange recluse than a public conceited jerk.

shipitfish: (poker-not-crime)

So, I would have expected to see the usual suspects of NYC small-time players on the Boston vs. New York show, which continues to be so bad I can't stand watching it. I wouldn't really expect it on any other show.

However, right there on the first main event episode, the feature table includes someone I know. Heck, it's even someone that I know well enough to have a pretty strong read on! I was really surprised to see her — still staring at the board when she misses and calling raises with AJo. It's Steph, someone I shared the tables with for many hours at the old O and U Clubs. Until tonight, I knew her only by her first name, as first names only is pretty typical at our semi-legal clubs around the city. Turns out she's Stephanie “windough” Klempner and seems to be PokerStars most ESPN-covered player of the 2006 main event, as she landed on the first day's television table with Phil Hellmuth.

Now, I can't speak to Steph's tournament game, but I suppose now that she's famous, I can take some liberty to make a public comment about what I know of her cash game. Truth is that (at least about six months ago) she was still one of the more beatable regulars that I encountered around the NYC clubs.

However, the big plus side is that she was always a great person to have at the table. Unlike most of the totality of NYC players, she's a kind, friendly person who is polite to everyone. That's a big exception to most of what you see around here. The saying about all NYCers being rude isn't really true in general, but it is almost completely true at the poker table. Steph was always an exception.

So, while I don't think Steph's skill is representative of what can be found in the small games of NYC poker, I'm sure that she, probably by a long shot, made a better impression of proper etiquette at a poker table than most NYC players would have. I'm glad that Steph won her satellite, and sorry she didn't cash. I don't think anyone could pick a kinder player as the token NYC small-time player for the main event.

(Because of his appearance on the first Boston vs. New York, Alfonse has previously been held up as “the quintessential NYC small-time poker player” in the media, and that's just embarrassing to us all. Too bad Steph didn't get enough air time to kill that image.)

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)
Spoiler alert! I am live-blogging the main event final table which I am watching on pay-per-view. Feel free to click through the link if you want to see what is happening as it happens. ) I have decided to live-blog the main event table, since I ordered it on pay-per-view and left work early to watch. I'll make a new, fresh post each hour, and put updates at the top and a horizontal rule before each change.
shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

I should be clear that it was mostly my idea to do this thing; my last post indicated that it was more W.D's idea, which was misleading. I knew he was into this fantasy team stuff, which is why I proposed, but it was my idea originally.

Here's the current status:

My PlayersMy ChipsMy Assured CashW.D.'s PlayersW.D's ChipsW.D.'s Assured Cash
Ken Jacobs370,000 ??? Daniel Negreanu 0 $42,882
Allen Cunningham1,081,000 ??? Ted Forrest0 $30,512
David Chiu0 $47,006 Josh Arieh0 $0
David Pham0 $26,389 Humberto Brenes835,000 ???
Phi ‘John’ Nguyen0 $47,006 Joseph Hachem0 $42,882
TOTALS1,451,100 $120,401 TOTALS835,000 $116,276

W.D. thinks he's in bad shape, but he really isn't. If Jacobs and Cunningham don't make it passed 60th or so, Brenes only needs to make it to 19th or so.

I'll post more actual content this week, but will also have these updates as the main event continues.

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

W.D. and I decided to a $50 fantasy game for the main event. I'm not much of a fan of these things, but I know W.D. is into it, and it looked like it might be enjoyable. W.D., experienced from his fantasy football games, organized the draft at all that. I just had to make the picks.

Both of us knew whoever won the coin flip was going to take Daniel Negreanu, and W.D. got him. Negreanu, being so skilled and having a big stack is likely to place high. W.D., actually, thinks that Negreanu could carry his whole team by himself!

The rest of W.D.'s picks were well-known pros. I held on to my list of “tournament players you've only vaguely heard of but make the a lot of cashes”. The picks shook out this way:

My PlayersMy ChipsW.D.'s PlayersW.D's Chips
Ken Jacobs375,300Daniel Negreanu 331,000
Allen Cunningham172,900Ted Forrest130,900
David Chiu154,700Josh Arieh85,600
David Pham112,300Humberto Brenes148,300
Phi ‘John’ Nguyen198,100Joseph Hachem114,100
TOTAL CHIPS1,013,300 TOTAL CHIPS809,900

My picking theory was this: the key is chip count. Almost any people we might pick have a strong ability to get there and make a huge cash. However, whoever has the largest chip count has the biggest equity. My picking strategy, therefore, was to make sure I had really strong, consistent tourney players whose total chip counts added up to more than W.D's team.

W.D.'s strategy was clear. He picked players whose game he knew and had reasonable chip stacks. I would have liked to get either Forrest or Hachem, probably instead of Phi Nguyen. I could have gotten them, since they were W.D.'s last picks and he wouldn't have thought to pick any of the lesser known pros I was going for, other than Cunningham.

BTW, the winner is the team that has the most cashed money in the main event. FWIW, the full payout structure is now available.

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

[BTW, for those that haven't seen it, there has been a payout update:

The numbers are in, and this year's winner of the main event will walk away with $12,000,000. 2nd will receive $6,102,499 and 3rd will take $4,123,310.
Now, to the real purpose of the post... ]

There have been rants all over the poker blog world about how bad the WSoP has been run. Before I talk in detail, I should start by pointing out that most of my rants in my last post hold Full Tilt to blame, since they didn't have a better process set up to handle their online qualifiers. However, it did generally seem to me that the WSoP staff were a bit over their heads with the level of the crowds, but I didn't see too much mess first-hand.

The strangest part of this story that I'm seeing is blaming Card Player, which is the official and (more or less) the exclusive media outlet covering the events live (all ESPN's coverage will go to tape first). The story goes that Card Player has censored has ignored or refused to publish stories about the mistakes and problems. Now, I'm certainly always one to blame corporate control of the media for everything. However, it's important to note the corporate control of the media, when it happens, isn't usually a conspiracy. Instead, it's usually self-censorship. People in medium and low level positions don't like to question the authorities that sign their paychecks, and in the media world, staff writers are particularly attuned to this issue. I'm sure that's so at Card Player just as it is at more traditional media outlets.

Those who derive their paychecks or a lion's share of their income from Card Player are going to think twice before second-guessing the corporate sponsorship afforded to the news outlet via Harrah's and its WSoP franchise. Just as happens in the traditional media monopoly, I seriously doubt many orders come down that say no negative stories about the running of the WSoP. Rather, what has likely occurred is well-documented, “don't rock the boat” self-censorship.

Some secondary evidence of this has been seen (well, heard) in one Card Player medium, The Circuit. Gavin Smith, who in April took over as a co-host (with Joe Sebok) when Mike Matusow left, has, on at least three different shows during the WSoP, talked extensively about serious mistakes made by WSoP officials. Guests on the show have done the same, including criticizing the payout structures being designed specifically by Harrah's to draw small-time players in again the following year.

Of course, any time there is an exclusive media deal with an event like this there is going to be some self-censorship of reporting. But, The Circuit coverage seems to indicate that no official censorship is going on.

People have been hard on Card Player about this, which doesn't make much sense. Last year, it was almost impossible to follow the WSoP as the action happened due to lack of coverage. Compared to the level of information that was coming out of the events last year, I'm pretty happy with how things have been going. From the point of view of a guy sitting in his office with limited time trying to get quick information about what's happening, the Card Player coverage has been a huge help.

Finally, I'd note that we should give them all a break. Poker is still coming into its own, and there is bound to be some corruption, poor decision-making, and some failures of the “media outlets of poker” in their coverage of things. But, having tried for the last few years to follow the WSoP action as it happened, I have to say that this year has been much better than most, even as I have a heck of a time trying to extract the Card Player video clips onto my Free Software box.

I know there's a poker boom on, but the lackluster coverage last year when there wasn't a sweetheart coverage deal in place indicates that Card Player was the only entity willing to step up to the plate to try and take it on. They're in over their heads, just as the WSoP organizers are, and the whole community is facing the classic growing pains. Chill out, everyone. If you want to be upset at some media conspiracy, Viacom and Clear Channel would be the better targets.

[ You've probably noted that I didn't get specific about the negative WSoP incidents that have happened and blogged about. I frankly don't want to contribute to their google page ranks by linking to them (or, heck, maybe I'm part of the whole conspiracy myself?). For details, I point you to Gavin Smith's rants on the air of the The Circuit over the last few weeks. The old shows are worth listening to anyway; so, I highly recommend them regardless.]

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

[ I expect I'll have two weeks of posts about my trip to Las Vegas. Much of it will admittedly be boring to those who have been to the WSoP and/or just Vegas before, but it was all new to me, and it will probably be of interest to those who've never been. ]

W.D. and arrived on Monday in the early afternoon. We waited for my bag for far too long (I hate being that guy who brings too much carry-on luggage even though I could have gotten away with it). I walked outside, and my eyes felt surrounded. I felt that the entire surface area of my eyeballs were surrounded with heat. It was a surprising feeling, but not a bad one. It was unique, and I actually enjoyed it. It would be more or less the last time I liked Vegas outside.

We got in the cab line, and quickly were headed to the Wynn. W.D., like he always does so well with people, got the cab drive off and talking completely comfortably about all sorts of things. I'm always impressed about W.D's ability to make other people comfortable. It's going to be a huge poker skill for him when he finally gets to the level where he knows for sure what he needs the other player to do (and he's getting close).

We checked into the room, and it was everything that Greg and others had told me it was. It's a wonderful place and very comfortable: a huge bathroom, new beds, a large plasma TV and a smaller one in the bathroom. The poker room waiting list available right on those very screens. A wonderful large window with a full view of (in our case) the old strip. It did take us two tries to realize that there was a fully automated remote control to open and close the shades — a great feature even though it wasn't IOMCO.

Then, came the long arduous trip to the Rio and registration for the event. I've put the details behind this link. )

It was quite an ordeal just to get signed up for one tournament. The whole place is a mad house, and I'm sure it's only gotten worse as the main event rages through its many Day Ones and Day Twos. I know many of the pros don't like the riff-raff of all us amateurs showing up. But, the WSoP has become “the poker player's convention”. Walking around, it reminds me of many of the early Open Source and Free Software conferences. There is a sense that everyone there is just the second generation in something that is so very huge that the world is about to discover. Sure, I still think the poker boom won't last too much longer, but like Free Software, and comics, and Star Trek, and Harry Potter, and so many niche loves before it, poker will become a staple part of the mainstream, and the WSoP will for the years to come be the annual event that defines that world. I just hope I can win a main event seat for next year.

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

Probably old news to some, but Card Player announced last night (at 23:25 PDT) the final entry numbers for the main event of the WSoP 2006:

After 3 day ones have concluded, and day 1D still going on for the next 4 in a half hours, the final number of participants in this years main event has just been announced. This year 8,773 people entered the main event. This number makes it the biggest Main Event in World Series of Poker history. This is almost 3,000 more than the number of participants last year.
Meanwhile, the winner is going to get over US$12 million, and at least 12 people will be millionaires:
A tournament director just announced [at 12:10 PDT today] that first prize in the Main Event this year will exceed $12 million. The director also announced that there will be 12 instant millionaires at the end of the tournament.

The WSoP has truly become the great convention of poker. I don't even think there is a question anymore. I frankly think it's great that the buy-in remains something one can win from a small super-satellite or a medium-cost satellite. It's a special thing. I am determined to play the big one next year.

shipitfish: (wsop-2006)

I am waiting for a game at the Wynn, and nicely one can watch the QueueOS list from the hotel room (thanks to Greg who told me about that).

For those that didn't want to play the audio files (that means you, W.K.), I busted out of the tournament on the fourth level (100/200 blinds). W.D. and I talked extensively over dinner about each play and it is pretty clear that I could have done nothing differently.

I had an extremely tight table. We played about six hands before we ever saw a flop (one raise, everyone folds). In the first three levels, two hands went beyond the flop. I tried to make sure I was raising and picking up the right amount of blinds. I did, and made it up to 1,800 at one point. I got dealt only three pairs (QQ, AA, and 22) and one AK. I took a flop with a KT on the button and a KJ in middle position, both after limpers ahead. I took a flop for a raise with 85s and bluffed with a gutshot and got a fold. When I had the QQ and AA, I raised and everyone folded. When I had 22, I raised, got called, and folded when I bet and was raised on an 87Q flop.

I eventually got blinded down pretty hard until I was holding 950 when the blinds were at 50/100. I made it 300 to go with KQs third back from the button. The big blind, a very tight player who liked to get his chips in preflop with big hands, reraised me to 1,200. I am still not sure if he realized that put me all-in or not. I thought through what I'd seen this guy do, and he really liked to get it all-in preflop with big pairs, AQ and AK. Indeed, I'd even say that seemed to be his game plan. I had never seen him out of line, and he always had one of those hands when he got it in preflop. I decided he must have my hand mildly beat (ala JJ) or had it dominated (with AK or AQ). I folded.

W.D. argued that I should have just pushed the 950 to start. I think not. Making it 300 represented more strength than that anyway, since I'm leaving 650 behind. I can be pretty sure if I get moved on, I'm beat, and I was. (When I busted, I asked the guy to please tell me, and he stepped away from the table and whispered Ace king, so I think he wasn't lying. He also sort-of flashed part of his card on folding anyway, and I saw it was either an ace or a duece.)

I looked for a hand to make a stand, and got 92, 34, 45, 27, 63, and the like for the next round. I took the big blind due to lack of hands to make a stand, and got 46s in the blind. I was ready to call it off with that (figuring two live cards against a raiser), and they actually gave me a walk. That bought me a round, and I got more of the same for nine hands. I got K6o under the gun, and almost moved in. I decided instead to take my chances in the blind.

A tight player raised it, and I had T8o. I said, I don't think you knew you were raising a short stack, did you? and he (I believe honestly) said he didn't. I knew he was strong, but felt it was likely AQ or AK, and decided to take my hopefully 30% equity right there and hope to double up and survive. He actually held AA, and a board of QQ6T left me drawing to only two outs on the river, which was a 7. (Too bad the flop had to overpair me, and take my fighting chance.)

I think the only big mistake I might have made is not moving in with rags to try to steal earlier after the KQ incident. I'm happy with my KQ fold, especially after finding out I was right, but it gave me a fighting chance had I picked up hands I could move with. It's a fast blind structure and you have to get lucky early.

I'm very glad to have played the way I did, and a 20 hand dry spell happens. That's just poker. I think I'm unlikely to ever play a small WSoP event like this again; the luck is too great. I am just glad that I didn't make it close to the bubble, and have been forced to play until 2AM or later last night, and then back today for a few hours before even getting close to the money.

The cash games are interesting here. I played a good amount at the Wynn, and I absolutely love playing 1-3 blinds with deep stacks, which a no cap buy-in permits here. Bellagio was nice, and I got to gawk at the “big game“ (with Gus Hansen, Jennifer Harman, Daniel Negreanu and Eli Elezra), and the games seem loose. But, I see why people love the Wynn, and I'm glad I picked my time to play here.

By the way, a little trick: like Foxwoods, they don't notice if you fail to check out and come back during the day, so you can get hours fast by not checking out and making sure you check out before it gets too late.

I'm off

Tuesday, 25 July 2006 12:56
shipitfish: (wsop-2006)
I am off to have breakfast and then play in the tourney. The registration took a lot of time, but I got some cash game play in last night too. I'll be doing voiceposts throughout the day.

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