Sunday, May 31, 2009


Changing Landscape

So the WSOP's off and running with the $40K NL. Well done and/or commiserations to Neil for his run and 20th place finish, I think that's pretty much 1/1 for the tournament as there wasn't really anyone else I was funking for :-). Now, one thing I don't want to do is point to the results of one tournament and say "Look, Internet players rule !". It annoys me enough when people do that for the live stars. But there was an interesting comment on Pokernews next to the live updates :

"besides Raymer and forrest, the dream final table espn was looking for wont happen"

Indeed it won't, and indeed that was exactly what ESPN were looking for. Their problem is, there's no longer any way they can make this happen in an open tournament. If the buyin is high enough to keep the riff-raff out, as it was here, then what happens instead is that a lot of very good Internet players step up to play. And not just the tournament players either. There were a lot of guys in this tournament like Ansky and Traheho who have made the final, also Raptor, Durrr, Brian Townsend, Terrence Chan, and so on. The difference between tournament and cash play is often over-stated IMO ; if you're a good cash player it's really not hard to learn how to play the 20BB stack (as hard as some of the live players make it look). But these guys are really, really, really good with 100BB+, especially compared to a lot of the tournament specialists (whether live or online).

ESPN's best bet for a "stacked" final table remains the $50K HORSE, which was the whole point of the event in the first place, but predictably enough they have realised that most of their audience is going "He can't go all in ? Why not ? Wait, split pot ? What the hell is this crap ?". Which is why they've ended up putting the charity tournament on their 4-event schedule. Can't blame them, I can totally see why they did it. There's also a "tournament of champions" or something like that which may be televised, I'm not sure.

This is neither good nor bad. It just is. Everyone involved simply has to adapt. It's one reason why so many sponsored pros spent such a big part of their budget on this event. It was by far their best shot at TV exposure. If they have any sense they'll buy in for the charity event ASAP before it fills up. The charity angle looks good too. And it's not even their money ! Win win :-)

Update : As it happens, in the first version of this post I fell into another classic trap. I know that the live updating is a difficult job, but the fact is that the hand reports you see online are not very reliable. Again, just how it is, but they're simply not accurate enough of the time to use them to make judgements on peoples' play. So that's something else I'm going to try to avoid !

I saw that comment too but I think ESPN will be pretty happy as there is a good couple of "live" pros and some well-known online faces to do battle. They could market it as the young guns vs the old school and do quite well from it IMO
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