We're done enough with the new design, so you can head over to C2 Choices and find me from now on. Update your links if you don't mind, and I can't wait to hear what you think! You can email me if needed at email@example.com.
I'm closing on my third year anniversary of this blog. It started as a poker blog to share my terrific, rocket-like advancement in my poker prowess.
That was the first day.
I then moved onto sharing what it felt like to lose my bankroll. Maybe you've never experienced that or don't remember it. There is this cold sweat that develops over your chest, down your arm, then ultimately to the mouse that you've vice-gripped in your fist. The mouse has come a long way in three years as this post-bankroll-clearing last hand trauma normally would yield a broken mouse or monitor. The hand details are somewhere in the recesses of my hard drive and brain I'm sure, but the typical final hand was either preceded by a flopped straight taking out my overpair or someone calling my raise with some horrific hand out of position then flopping trips or two pair.
Then this site changed as I changed. Poker became a metaphor for the struggles in my life. To an outsider, it might have appeared like poker was cause. It's never been that, just as the TV or eating or surfing the web or any of the number of time-consuming ventures have been the cause of what illed me. It was more of what I had become over the decade of running my own company, a career that has become increasingly insular.
The site moved away from this URL then returned this year, and I've continued to be a part of a great community of people all over the world. I thank all of you for letting me still be in your club even as I haven't been with you as much. As many, many of you have told me and others, a blog should primarily be written for one audience: the writer. It's always been that way for me, but I've benefited most when connection has followed. Connection comes from comments and chatting and talking, and I've grown alot through my times with those who have invested in me.
As the site moves to a new URL, my poker exploits will not be left behind. And I hope many of you will take the time to follow me along the new road. I also hope I can find others out there, others who have their act together or not, others who are great parents or not, others who are great spouses or not.
Others who are believers or not. Waffles has called me the Preacher (when he's called me--or that's probably the nicest thing he's called me!), and I hope I haven't offended or come off that way. As I've grown older, I've found myself not to be a preacher but really a seeker. I've come to find my faith as a journey rather than a destination. I feel much safer being a big fish in a small pond rather than the other way around, yet I find that I am more like the latter now in my spiritual journey.
So it came to pass that I would either kill this blog or invest in it and try to do more. I decided to rebuild it. The next post will be the famous go-to-the-new-link post, and hopefully folks will update links and feeds.
I think we should be making the switch to the new design and new URL in the next twenty-four hours. Still a few final tweaks and all that. I'm pretty sure I'll have some sort of contest to celebrate it, a chance to win something if you link to the new URL and all that.
I've been working hard and stretched fairly thin (although I still don't look too thin!). The move and redesign haven't really contributed to that, but I also haven't devoted very much time to it either. I've paid a nice chunk of change to have someone help with it, and I think it will be well worth it. More in the morning.
Fascinating Interviews with The Three EPL Managers
Terrific set of interviews by BBC with the managers of the two dropped clubs (Reading and Birmingham), as well the new London hero, Fulham's Roy Hodgson. Such a different view into sport than here in America.
First, a happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there. We headed for brunch after church this morning. I got our name on the list at one of her favorite places, an hour wait that was fine for us as she and the boys were still at church (I grabbed coffee and a couple books as a gift for my wife after the first service while she volunteered in the nursery). She's celebrating her big day with a nap now.
I rushed to the computer when we got home to see if Fulham had gotten their victory at Pompey. With Birmingham and Reading both grabbing four goals, the pressure was surely on the Cottagers as they headed well into the 2nd half scoreless. Then Danny Murphy headed a long free kick into the netting, Kasey Keller parried shot after shot as the Fulham defense weathered an onslaught of balls, and with three blows of the whistle, Fulham survived!
The Barclay's Premier League/EPL. Probably second to the NFL, the Premiership is the best that sports has to offer. Tomorrow is exactly why.
At the top of the league, Chelsea is tied with Manchester United atop the lead. The regular season is the thing in soccer, and it is simple and just. 20 teams, play every team home and away, then add up the points for wins (3 pts) and ties (1 pt). Subtract the goals you score vs those you give up and you have the goal differential for the season. Man U is ahead of Chelsea on goal differential by 17 goals, so Chelsea must have a superior result to this weekend to take the title. They host Bolton Sunday, and Man U will travel to mid-tier Wigan.
It's the bottom of the table that makes soccer leagues around the world exciting until the last day (except for the US). Fulham, owned by Harrod's mogul Mohamed al-Fayad, dropped to the bottom three of the twenty teams at the first of the year and have been down there ever since. Now if you were the Royals or Knicks or Raiders, that would be an unfortunate situation but hardly desperate. But this is the EPL, where the bottom three teams drop out of the Premiership. With the loss goes the estimated $35mil in revenue and the prestige of the Premiership. And what happens if you drop from the Premiership? Look no further than Leicester. They played in the UEFA Cup in 2001, the tournament for top European teams who do not qualify for the Champions League. This season, their record in the League Championship division (Triple-A) pushes them down to League One (Double-A) next season.
With three wins in the last four games, Fulham has clawed their way up to 17th place with 33 pts and a goal differential of -23. 18th place Reading (33pts/-29) and 19th place Birmingham (32pts/-19) both need a result to escape the drop. Reading has the easiest path, traveling to 20th place Derby County (11pts/-65). Birmingham hosts 7th place Blackburn (58pts/+5) and their stingy keeper, American Brad Friedel.
Fulham travels to 8th place Portsmouth (57pts/+9). Known as Pompey, Portsmouth could be faulted for overlooking this game. They play Cardiff next Saturday in the FA Cup final, England's most prestigious soccer tournament. The FA Cup hearkens to the Indiana High School basketball tournament of old, made famous by the movie Hoosiers. In the FA Cup, literally every professional and semi-pro team in England play in the tournament, so Cardiff (in the League Championship division) has a chance to play in Wembley Stadium and take home the hardware of the FA Cup.
Fulham's future will be intertwined with three of their five Americans. Kasey Keller signed up with Fulham earlier this season, a seemingly over-the-hill goalkeeper unclaimed by any other team around the world. He may not be automatic in the back, but he is certainly solid. Clint Dempsey also signed with the club in the middle of the season. The former Furman All-American leads the team in goals and is now a mainstay in the starting XI.
Brian McBride, now the team's captain, is the heart of the team. Last year's leading scorer for the squad had a catastrophic dislocation of his kneecap at the beginning of the season. He's the epitome of workmanship; we'd call it leaving it all on the field if we were talking about football here. No one will outwork him on Sunday, probably no one in the EPL. And he may have his own blood all over him by the end of the afternoon.
Fulham has a tough task in front of them, lessened by Pompey's looming FA Cup match next weekend. I like Reading leapfrogging the other two tomorrow and snatching the final berth in the Premiership next season, but I'll be pulling for McBride and the Cottagers. No one will be tanking tomorrow to move up in draft position, that you can guarantee.
It's been quite a tough week, I won't kid anyone. I've been up to my ears in pure stress, four weeks late getting started with a last phase of a big client project, late due to their delay then totally screwed-up data set needed to complete said project.
I've used poker as a stress relief, just toiling away at the $0.25/0.50 NLHE 6-max tables. Gone are the days of four-tabling away at $0.50/1 or $1/2 NLHE 6-max. Not enough time, not enough bankroll. Poker has moved from an interest to an obsession to a grind to now an escape. I play two tables at their normal size while multi-tasking for maybe an hour or so every third or fourth day, with the occasional SNG thrown in (btw, I'm now a master HU SNG player, undefeated in six straight $2+0.20 PLO and NLHE HU SNG's).
My game has gotten a bit sloppier at times, chasing more often if the bets stay small, focusing on the single big guy at the expense of the weaker stacks.
I'll have a very busy weekend as I keep working on this stuff while also taking in soccer. We're also working feverishly on the redesign and hope to get it moved to the new URL and to the new WordPress template. I'm pretty excited about it. I'll probably post some throughout the weekend, so drop by if you have a chance.
Spoiler Alert: Survivor, Best Reality Show Episode Ever!
OK, maybe that is a bit of a stretch, but this was the most stunning display of moronic combined with the most evil side of female connivingness (I know this is not a word, but really I think it is). I haven't read EW's recap yet, so definitely head there if you are a fan at all. Also, head to the Survivor website to watch this episode in its entirety.
Meet Exhibit A, Erik. He's the Superfan and would have a restraining order as a stalker if he hadn't actually been cast on the show. He's also a Herculean competitor of the Ozzy mold. With Ozzy leaving a few weeks ago for being too cocky and James almost losing his finger, Erik was the last man standing with four ladies.
Erik wins the Immunity Challenge (lapped the girls; btw, they should have had the person who finished last is out as a twist--the women were horrible in the challenge). He's like a Labrador puppy in these challenges, still sprinting at the end when the other four haven't even made it to the last stage of the challenge.
In the interim, Erik has told different alliance stories to three of the women, who then tell each other of his promises and laugh it up, all within earshot of him. He's a downtrodden puppy who just wants to be liked by these Survivor heroes of him, and it gets him down around camp. Back to real-time: after the Immunity Challenge, the four ladies are sitting around talking about what they will do, and then Cirie stumbles on the most ridiculous idea in the history of reality television. Cirie blurts out that Natalie should use her evil, wily ways to get Erik to give her the Immunity Necklace, playing on his pitiful emotions and need to be liked. Natalie knows she's going home and would do anything to stay, but even she can't come to grips with how anyone would actually fall for this. 'Why would he fall for that?'' asked Natalie. ''Ozzy, Jason, and Erik,'' announced Parvati. ''He belongs in that threesome.''
More giggling ensues, then Natalie heads to find Erik and lay it out for him: Cirie will joing Erik and Natalie to vote out Amanda, but only if Cirie gives Natalie the necklace as a sign of redemption and to show that he is indeed a man of his word that everyone can trust. The jury will also like the move, she explains.
My wife was on the sofa, and as the Tribal Council rolled on, she was ambivalent. "This is ridiculous," she said. "No one would be that stupid."
Ahhh, she obviously overstates the size of a man's brain. And the pure wickedness of the female species.
And you thought the male praying mantis had it bad. At least he gets a last hurrah before having his head bitten off...
PokerStars Game #17300210676: Hold'em No Limit ($0.25/$0.50) - 2008/05/08 - 23:45:08 (ET) Table 'Ophelia III' 6-max Seat #6 is the button Seat 1: morodepoco ($42.70 in chips) Seat 2: mahkiemahk ($55.20 in chips) Seat 3: Bill Maz89 ($41.90 in chips) Seat 5: KentuckyRuLz ($45.95 in chips) Seat 6: csquard ($62.60 in chips) morodepoco: posts small blind $0.25 mahkiemahk: posts big blind $0.50 bw07507: sits out
Holecards: Dealt to csquard [ ] FOLD Bill Maz89 FOLD KentuckyRuLz RAISE csquard , $1.50 to $2 FOLD morodepoco RAISE mahkiemahk, $5 to $7 CALL csquard , $5
Turn: (Pot: $34.25) [ ] [ ] CHECK mahkiemahk: BET csquard , $10 RAISE mahkiemahk, $28.20 to $38.20 and is all-in CALL csquard , $28.20
River: (Pot: $110.65) [ ] [ ]
Showdown: mahkiemahk: shows [ ] (a straight Ten to Ace) csquard : shows [ ] (four of a kind Jacks) csquard collected $108 .65 from pot
SUMMARY: Total pot $110.65 | Rake $2
Board: [ ] Seat 1: morodepoco (small blind) folded before Flop Seat 2: mahkiemahk (big blind) showed [ ] and lost with a straight Ten to Ace Seat 3: Bill Maz89 folded before Flop (didn't bet) Seat 5: KentuckyRuLz folded before Flop (didn't bet) Seat 6: csquard (button) showed [ ] and won ($108 .65) with four of a kind Jacks
Cyan - Enjoys a Beverage In The Server Room While Engaged in Some Sort
of Energy Swap With a Dill Pickle as a Black Cat Phlegmatically
Monitors at Least 3 Futile Displays Involving 1 Maverick Hand, 1
Haunted Can Opener & 1 Can of Pabst Blue Ribbon
Alan Sepinwall at the Star-Ledger has a terrific article on American Idol (see 5 Reasons the Best 12 Weren't). Just a terrific deep-dive into this season vs the overall franchise. Some of the new gimmicks haven't exactly worked out (for example, the use of instruments this season has more often been a prop than an exhibition in musicianship), while some of the old new gimmicks have been ridiculous (see the Q&A from viewers). His on the money with his discussion of themes and mentors. Everyone is probably very gun-shy about doing away with these things, but I think it is time to do that.
What he fails to mention is how those who have remained (aside from David Cook) are so lacking next to some of those who have been cast away. Carly and Michael Johns should absolutely still be here with Jason Castro and Brooke gone in their place. I'd much rather have seen those two added to the trio that remain to see who could have made it to the last three. My wife cannot stand Little David (photo above from Star Search at age 12). He drips child beauty pageant, and he probably needs a wild weekend with Miley Cyrus to knock some reality into him. From all accounts, his father is in the Crazy Stage Parent Hall of Fame, so it's hard to attack Little David too much directly.
David Cook (above) has been a breath of fresh air in this competition. He's escaped the so-called controversy of knocking off previous knock-off's found on YouTube to become the best this season has had to offer (regardless of who wins). You can definitely see him having a career with legs in the future. The big question AI has to ask itself is what needs to change in the show to have six others like him in the last eight or nine (we'll always have some strange person who makes it deep, like Sanjaya or Jason Castro). As much effort and investment in weeding through the tens of thousands of possibilities, you'd think the show would do a better job of finding more diamonds in the rough.
One reason they haven't had more spit out at the end is that the obstacle course the contestants have to run doesn't correlate with what makes a successful recording artist. A young man or woman with a particular style and tone shouldn't have to somehow push that style on a succession of songs from the Beatles, Neil Diamond, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Dolly Parton, and Mariah Carey. Maybe they can simply perform the absolutely best song they want to perform each week then let us decide.
The cliche that the judges' feedback has become is also a problem that Sepinwall omits discussing, one that makes the show less appealing. Let's go worst to first. Paula really needs to be replaced. She brings no critical eye to the show and doesn't appear credible most of the time. Randy should be much more focused in his feedback rather than simply rambling and throwing in his slang terms. Maybe I'm overstating things a bit, as he does seem to focus on the accuracy of the singing and specifics of the arrangement.
Colin is such a key part of the show that it would be hard to imagine AI without him. The constant booing whenever he speaks is overworn and ridiculous, as is chiming the music in immediately after he says his first words. To watch him on AI then watch him on "Britain's Got Talent" is like watching two different people. He generally likes and respects his two cohorts across the pond. He repeatedly shows that he thinks Paula has no sense at all. He also has resigned himself, it appears, that AI is what it is and there isn't much he can do about the American public.
Lastly, me email to Sepinwall (about to send):
Really terrific analysis of American Idol. As part of the wrong demographic (>40 Male), I've still been a fan of American Idol. The one thing you fail to mention is the impact of TiVo/DVR on American Idol viewership. There is absolutely no way I would watch American Idol live, and I never watch anything on the results show except for a performance that might catch my eye. I fast-forward to the end to see who was voted off then delete the episode. I haven't even sniffed listening to a group sing number and haven't seen a cheesy AI commercial since maybe Season 2.
I've been out of the blogger tourneys for the most part since they moved almost exclusively to FullTilt about six-eight months or so. I rarely played Wil Wheaton's tourney but was a mainstay back in the days of two-three tables of the Mookie and the MATH. The fact that I never won a Mookie event (and thus never got to answer all those questions about me) frustrated me to no end. I also hosted a small weekly tourney on PokerStars, even getting the PokerWorks folks to give me some cash to add to the prize pool (I think $1k). My tourney was never very popular in numbers, more of an intimate gathering of knuckleheads than anything really.
It's been stunning to watch the growth of these tourneys, and AlCantHang along with Hoy, Mook, smokkee, and MiamiDon, have been instrumental in pushing the envelope. FullTilt especially has embraced the marketing value of having bloggers playing regularly on their site, driving traffic, affiliate revenue, downloads, and conversions in the process.
I know there has been alot written about what blogger tourneys have become. Since I haven't been playing in them this year, let me chime in (always great to have an opinion about something you know nothing about, right?).
With the significant added value arranged by Al et al, the blogger tourneys have been one of the few series of poker tournaments in the world where someone is adding to the prize pool. Let me repeat that. The blogger tourneys are one of the series of poker tournaments in the world where there is significant added value to the prize pool. The WSOP made news last week for their delayed Main Event, and I noted that one of the other items mentioned was that the interest on the prize pool for those at the Final Table would be given back to them. A quick calculation of this: 0.17% added to the prize pool, and none of that coming from the host or sponsor of the WSOP. I'll let someone more familiar with the blogger tourneys figure out the overall prize pool, the rake, and how much FullTilt is adding, but I assume it is more than 0.17%.
So this has moved from being a gathering of virtual acquaintances and friends to a competitive regular happening. Folks have reacted differently to this, with some getting test and nasty in their chat and IM's about donkey play or bad beats. Sometimes those comments have gotten heated and personal. Additionally, people have come to care more about playing in these, about doing well in them, about getting points and getting money.
Has all of this taken away from the general feeling of community that brought everyone to these events in the first place? I'll let others comment on this. I do know that one of the terrific parts of blogger tourneys is that a new person can gain entry into this strange community of people called poker bloggers. All it takes is visiting one of the above sites, finding the password, having $10-25 on FullTilt (or Bodog), then signing up and sitting down. You can chat away with the people you've read and trolled and commented on, these big figures in our little world.
You can play with neophytes or the best we have to offer, folks like Lucko and Fuel and LJ and Gnome and cmitch. Is it the same as playing with annette_15 or Gus Hansen or Jason Strasser? It isn't too far from it, I don't believe. Because of it, bad players have become mediocre and good players have become really good. It is one of the real draws of blogger tourneys, that you can test yourself with such a wide array of players who you also know a little about.
Did the intimacy get lost as the fields grew? Sure, just as some of the connectivity and community that originally developed in poker blogs has been broken by Bloglines and Google Reader. Much of that intimacy now comes from subsegments of our group, IM's and chats with smaller groups of people.
Do we need a tourney that isn't part of all this, just a place to have fun like the good old days? I wouldn't be the judge of that. My impression is that the field is pretty packed, what with 1-2 events going on every single evening. How anyone stays married or attached to a significant other or remains a competent parent while spending all these evenings on their computer is one I don't fully understand. It's probably what has kept me away from the events the most, just that I'm now enjoying sitting four feet away from my wife in front of the television rather than returning to The Pit (as we've come to affectionately call this office/dungeon) to play poker with my virtual friends for 10 minutes-4 hours (depending on how quickly I bust out).
Having removed myself from these tourneys and currently holding down last place on the leaderboard with 0 points, I can tell you I miss doing eighteen things while having a tournament open with you guys. I miss shoving, hitting, then reading all of the chat about how stupid I am and how could I make this play when so and so hasn't re-raised in five weeks (even though I am never paying any attention to even my cards, much less all this complicated stuff like what other players are doing or have done or their position or M's or size of raises or position). I do miss it, I do. I almost reached out last night to get some FullTilt funds for Stars funds into my account so I could jump in to the Mook. My wife was out, and I had the evening free. Work and work and putting the boys in bed led me away, and I didn't reach out and didn't sign up. I looked for some way to jump into some ring game to turn my $0.04 at FullTilt into the $11 I needed, but I couldn't find that either.
So poker blogger tourney folks, here's my wisdom: take a couple steps back then return to the table with a fresh view of the Mookie or MATH or Riverchasers or the Big Game or whichever other event you're signing up for. You get whatever you want out of the event, but don't forget that one of the best parts is seeing friends and finding new ones.
Just in case you needed more: I'm not sure which is strangers, the Britain's Got Talent audition by Craig Harper of a Boyzone song (where he sings the parts of all five members) or the actual Boyzone song itself.
You be the judge.
No, I'll say the strangest has to be Mr. Donald Bell-Gam, absolutely horrific and making Simon Cowell wish for the worst American Idol experience as an escape.
Or maybe the Gollum Boy, with his terrific impression from Lord of the Rings?
Or maybe Michael Machell, playing keyboards possibly for the first time (the theme from Star Wars)?
I grew in a small town in Southwest Mississippi, about an hour south of the state capital Jackson and 2 1/2 hours north of New Orleans. I thought our town had a population of 18,000, but the census has it at a little less than 10,000 and our county at around 33,000. Growing up in a small town had its disadvantages to be sure, but one thing I'll always remember is how everyone knew everyone, or at the least knew of them and recognized them. I don't get back there at all anymore, what with my parents moving to Memphis after I was in college and all.
The death toll in Myanmar/Burma is now estimated to be 22,464 with almost 41,000 missing. It is as if my entire hometown and county have been wiped off of the face of the Earth. I don't watch the news, so I haven't seen any of the images from this, just reading about it on the web. My entire town, dead.
The people in Myanmar are a poor, backward people. They look different than me, talk multiple languages. 55,000,000 people live there in a country slightly smaller than Texas. These tens of thousands of people lost are a drop in the bucket in a place where life is always tough. The value of these lives is so much less than the value of the lives of people here in Atlanta or the US.
At least, it's easy to think that way in our inner-most thoughts.
No, these aren't 22,464 nameless, faceless, strange, poor people who have been lost. I've searched for an hour to find the name of one of these who have died, but nothing comes back. A 12-foot wave crashed down on these tens of thousands of people, but that's too impersonal.
No, it was a young father who huddled in his shack with his wife, two daughters, and two sons (ages 8-3). He had steered clear of the military and earned money as a day laborer, picking up money doing everything from hauling trash from construction sights to carrying boxes of goods to market. The mother took care of the young children, sewing children's clothes to put a bit more food on the table. There were no paychecks to regularly cash, so neither of them knew for certain if there would be enough food for them or if it would go to the children each day.
Their life was drastically hard, but no different than anyone else in Labutta, this remote place over 100 miles from Yangon. They prayed that Saturday as they held one another, prayed until their shanty disappeared in the foam of the waters higher than a basketball goal. And each of them, this father and mother and daughter and son and son and daughter, children who could be running in and out of my house if they had only been born in Suburbia, each of them has been separated from their loved one. You see, these six humans are among the hundreds now floating in the Pyarmalot River.
Nameless, faceless victims, half a world away as I drink my coffee and go on to the next bit of thinking and typing and figuring out what I'm paid to do. 22,464 and counting.
My favorite thing about living in New Jersey was listening to Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN. Mike Francesca made his name originally on CBS March Madness coverage, while Christopher Russo has transformed himself from a sidekick with an irritating voice to a terrific sports talk radio host. They've been together since September 1989.
And now he has the Mad Dog Minute. Watching him and listening is some kind of treat.
The $540s should be over, or close to over at this point. Overall
I think I wanted to highlight in this thread what I believe the strength of longer blind levels as opposed to just giving you more chips. The Megastack started the deepest event, but by the end of the tournament it became one of the shortest structures. The first level of this series is going to be like torture playing 300bbs deep with no antes.
The WSOP actually redeems itself once the money is reached. Day 2 of the $1500 events will be must more pleasant because of this, and actually allow some good play at this point. This is at the cost of less play during the first 8 levels.
The $1060 Deepstacks overall have the best structure as shown. The Venetian is really giving players a good tournament here.
Gaming companies have been under severe pressure, and the Wall Street Journal reports after hours tonight that Tropicana Entertainment LLC is filing for bankruptcy protection.
Kentucky-based Tropicana -- with a small casino kingdom that includes the famed Tropicana Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and a host of small regional casinos -- missed an interest payment Friday on a $1.32 billion loan with lender Credit Suisse Group, said two people familiar with the matter. Tropicana isn't expected to make the payment, these people said. Missing the payment terminates a forebearance agreement the company had with bondholders, putting further pressure on the gambling company (WSJ.com).
Atlanta's own Josh Arieh is out at Bodog, and Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo is in as a sponsored player at Bodog (read this interview with Bonomo, I assume by Haley). Of course, Bodog hasn't gotten around to erasing Arieh's image throughout their website. I've tried to interview Arieh several times, as I've been especially interested in his decision to remain in Atlanta rather than uprooting his wife and three daughters. Bonomo should have been snapped by a site a long time ago as he's a threat in any tourney he enters.
The dismissal of Arieh two months after adding Jean-Robert Bellande is a bit more curious to me. Bellande has little tournament success to show for his last thirty months. Here is a nice comparison of Arieh vs Bellande vs Bonomo over the last few years (08/07/06):
Bellande ($9.4k, $44.7k, $105.1k)
Arieh ($71.7k, $193.1k, $561.1k)
Bonomo ($229k, $574.8k, $275.4k)
I'm sure the folks at Wicked Chops could chime in on the matter as they've always been close to Bodog Poker. Arieh's website is no longer there; I haven't checked it in quite awhile. I'll try to track him down through contacts to get his thoughts. Again, I'd say picking up Bonomo is a no-brainer for anyone. His previous transgressions may have kept him from being signed up by PokerStars or FullTilt, but that would only be a wild guess of mine.
WSOP ME Delay: Otis and Hard-Boiled Poker Weigh In
New on my radar, Hard-Boiled Poker has fast become one of my new favorite poker blogs. He has a great analysis of the history of the Main Event as well as his take on the delay. Otis has a detailed analysis of the downsides of this deal. I strongly urge you to read both of these.
I took our family plus a few boys from our soccer teams (10-12 years old) to see Ironman yesterday. Let's put aside the fact that it was rated PG-13 and I had a 3-year old plus boys 10-12 for a minute. I'll address that in a bit. It was a really, really great movie.
Robert Downey, Jr (Tony Stark/Ironman) really brought something fresh to the genre. Would he have been viewed as good if he didn't bring all of his own personal history and demons along for the ride? I'm not sure. Gwyneth Paltrow played a great, understated Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's long-time assistant. In fact, the movie was really packed with terrific actors in all of the roles. Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges brought depth to roles that could have been throwaway's, which I think really added to the movie.
One of the boys I brought was of Middle Eastern descent, and it was strange how uncomfortable I got at times watching some of the movie. Having him a few seats from me actually forced me to step away from the film a bit and look at how Marvel portrayed the different members of the cast who were Arabic. I actually think they did a nice job, with terrorists, an aid to Tony Stark, then innocent villagers all shown on the screen. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed all this, and I doubt I would have if not for the young boy who I've coached for close to six years now.
The previews actually were more disturbing than the movie itself for young boys, with much inappropriate sexual innuendos in a couple of trailers. The movie had one risque portion (a reporter who spends the night with Stark). The violence in the film wasn't too graphic, so it is more of a parental judgment of what is acceptable or not for boys at specific ages. It wasn't scary, so even our little guy made it through fine. He actually stayed tuned in for the entire movie, which is tough for him in a live-action film.
We're getting close on the redesign of the site. Anyone interested in giving feedback, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll forward a .jpg of the current design. Thanks to all those who've linked me here since I moved back. Old friends with old links still broken, but I'll wait to fix that when we go live with the new site.
A riveting complete video of the now famous Last Lecture from Professor Randy Pausch from Carnegie Mellon.
From the caption with the video:
Almost all of us have childhood dreams: for example, being an astronaut, or making movies or video games for a living. Sadly, most people don't achieve theirs, and I think that's a shame. I had several specific childhood dreams, and I've actually achieved most of them. More importantly, I have found ways, in particular the creation (with Don Marinelli), of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center (etc.cmu.edu), of helping many young people actually *achieve* their childhood dreams. This talk will discuss how I achieved my childhood dreams (being in zero gravity, designing theme park rides for Disney, and a few others), and will contain realistic advice on how *you* can live your life so that you can make your childhood dreams come true, too.
107 minutes in length, so be ready to multitask as you watch/listen. He authored The Last Lecture as well. His Daily Update page gives details of his continued fight against pancreatic cancer.
From the WSOP Conference Call: An Estimated $179,470 to be Added to the Main Event Prize Pool
Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP Commissioner for Harrah's, held a teleconference for the Media regarding the announcement of the 117-day delay in the WSOP Main Event Final Table. Included on the call: Jack Effel (Tournament Director), Seth Polansky (Communications Director), Jamie Horowitz (Senior Producer, ESPN Content Development), and Dockery Clark (Director of Sports and Event Sponsorship at Miller Brewing).
What's New at the WSOP
No tents; more ballrooms will be utilized for play (five total)
Player capacity is 2,740 at any one time
There will be no alternates; instead, there will be Day 2's for larger events estimated to exceed capacity
Satellites will not be played in the Amazon Room but in a separate ballroom
The cage will be separate, with an integration of buy-in and cash-out areas
Registration will begin 28 May, two days prior to the first event
All cell phones must be silenced, and players must be a table away from their seat to use a phone or PDA
There will be a new WSOP Concierge service; although this wasn't addressed on the call, I found out that this was a primary need of international players. Services will include shopping and other typical concierge services for those with long stays at the Rio. The Rio will also offer upgraded rooms for long-term players, including DV-R's and nicer televisions.
The Delayed Final Table
14 July: Final Table set, 9 November: play from nine to two, 10 November: HU play, with a target of ending HU play early on 11 November; 11 November: show the two-hour Final Table.
4 November: ESPN will air a one-hour preview show of the Final Table
ESPN will follow the nine WSOP Final Table players during their sixteen-week hiatus
ESPN (Horowitz) "This is a very exciting day for us in what is already the biggest event in poker. We look at this like when baseball added the Wild Card or NASCAR added the Chase for the Cup."
Miller (Clark): "We appreciate the partnership with the World Series of Poker, and this announcement adds value to us." She then explained a partnering with Phil Hellmuth, a 2 June promotion to win private lessons with Hellmuth.
Questions and Answers
I asked the second set of questions: What about collusion? Pollack: "The biggest mistake someone could make is to test our events ethically. We are putting the players before a global, world-wide audience, and that encourages them to represent players with high ethical standards. We are introducing a new Code of Conduct, which will clarify any act or unethical, cheating or collusion will be met with very severe penalties. When play stops, we are encouraging the world to take a look at these players, and they will achieve a level of fame. We hope it discourages (unethical behavior).
My second question: Dockery mentioned this was added value to Miller, and I assume it is added value to all parties involved. Will there be anything added to the prize pool of the Main Event? Pollack: The prize pool for the Final Table will be deposited in an interest-bearing account for the Final Table players after the Final Table is set." My calculation of interest in a 3-month CD @ 3.25% APR: $179,470 (unsure if this is correct or not, calculated at Bankrate.com for $1,000,000 and extrapolated--apologies to the math whizzes and any corrections appreciated).
Bob Ciaffone (CardPlayer) asked about the late endings of days. Effel explained that play will end around midnight (five levels) for the Main Event as well as for ten levels in most other tourneys. 5:00PM start events will end around 2:00AM.
Adam Schwartz (2+2 Radio) asked about the potential for things to happen to players in the interim period. Pollack: Probably a hundred scenarios, whether it is entertainment or sports. People should be confident in our ability to stage an event, world-class, customer-friendly."
Matthew Shaw (PokerListings) asked about the new photography policy. Seth Polansky asked him to call and discuss off-line.
BJ Neumeth (PokerNews) asked if there would be media restrictions during the Final Table to keep the winner under wraps as much as possible. Pollack: "We are blowing the doors wide-open. If you are credentialed to be in the room, you’ll be able to report what you saw. This will only enhance the coverage and viewership. 10 November will be a huge media day for the World Series."
Bill Ordeen (Baltimore Sun) asked if this change was to move the broadcast to more of a live event coverage feel vs a documentary. Horowitz: "We've always had change in tournament coverage, and ESPN has always looked to as the WSOP is the seminal event in poker. There will be twenty hours of Main Event is more than ever, and the preview show will be new as well." Pollack: "We think this iwll create a greater sense of anticipation, changing the equation, as many people as possible talking about who is going to win?"
Rick Dacey (PokerPlayer News UK) asked about pay-per view and how this impacts broadcasting in the UK, as well as in other international markets. Horowitz: "The plan is not to do pay-per-view for the Main Event. We are looking into some of the bracelet events on ESPN360." Pollack: "ESPN distributes this (internationally), but we are not sure about ESPN International and will follow up."
Steve Rosenblum (Chicago Tribune) asked about apparel rules. Pollack: "No single company logo can be on the same article of clothing more than once, and no maximum on number of unique logos. I came from NASCAR, and I hope that players can start looking like NASCAR drivers. Robert Williamson, III, for one, is well on his way. We hope that the players at the Final Table (will use) sixteen weeks to sign additional sponsors."
We don't get HBO, so I haven't been able to watch a Costas Now Town Hall on Taking Stock of the Sports Media Landscape, Including the Rise of Internet Bloggers and Sports Talk Radio. The New York Times has a recap of a portion of the show, pitting author Buzz Bissinger (author of "Friday Night Lights") with Will Leitch, founder of Deadspin.com. You can see the clip of the debate below.
Let's put aside the fact that much of the quotes from Bissinger and Costas were from commenters, a fact that both either didn't fully understand or didn't truly address succinctly. This piece raised a few big questions (see my answers):
Are blogs dedicated to cruelty? First, blogs are no more uniform than any type of media, including newspapers, television programs, radio programs, newsletters, CD's, and DVD's. Sports blogs run the gamut in purpose, sport covered, tone, and journalistic integrity. Kickette, one of the finalists for Best Sports Blog (Bloggies) is the Go Fug Yourself of soccer, so much more different than Roll 'Bama Roll, dedicated to all things Crimson Tide or Dawg Sports (University of Georgia). Most of these single entity blogs are a gather place for die-hard fans to celebrate, commiserate, rant, gossip, and generally fuel their passion. Dedicated to cruelty? A small minority, just as other gossip media are (see the National Enquirer, Entertainment Tonight, London's trash papers).
Are blogs dedicated to dishonesty? Is it easier to put whatever you want to put up on a blog that you own, putting truth aside as best you can? I think it is easier, no doubt about it. But are blogs dedicated to dishonesty? Dishonesty is significantly different than getting a story wrong. Again, blogs that are consistently dishonest will lose readership, like any media source (satirical sources excluded; e.g., The Onion).
Are blogs dedicated to speed? All media has pushed more to speed, and blogs are hardly the exception here. In sports, you can start with ESPN and their reporting of rumors from their lead investigators. Here are just a few quick examples: Smoltz makes it clear in text message he's returning as a reliever "I am planning on coming back as a reliever first, and more than likely for the rest of this year," Smoltz said in a text message to the newspaper late Wednesday. (Text message as the single source, one of the easiest things to fake/manipulate) Kerr refutes report saying D'Antoni, Suns might part ways referring to the SI.com report of D'Antoni's Tenure in Phoenix is Over (yet the Arizona Republic has it this way: D'Antoni, Kerr to discuss plans "There now is a national impression that Mike D'Antoni coached his last Suns game Tuesday after an online report stated so.") Media has always balanced speed with getting the story right. Always. Blogs are no different.
Do bloggers lack journalistic credentials? This is a yes for the vast majority of anyone who blogs, sports bloggers included.
Do bloggers lack journalistic capabilities? This is a more significant question. What is the differentiation of a journalist? Webster defines the journalist as a writer or editor for a news mediumor a writer who aims at a mass audience. It is interesting to see their second definition: a person who keeps a journal. Do all bloggers conduct research and find the facts? Probably a better question. This is probably the most significant point that Costas is driving by bringing on Leitch, as Deadspin purposely does not go to press boxes or events to bring their stories. It is very easy for a blogger to regurgitate what they've read on another blog or website without doing due diligence. However, the greed of driving eyeballs and traffic actually assists many bloggers with finding sources to reinforce their point. A good blogger will link to other's reports and posts, driving traffic to said source while establishing credibility in the process. Do bloggers conduct primary research? That would be mostly a no, I assume. Do the biggest blogs conduct primary research? The biggest blogs aren't too different than a small newspaper anyways, with a team of writers, editors, and photographers out finding stories. Add readers firing in their own scoops to send the blog to look into the smoke, and you have a situation no different than most other media outlets.
Do bloggers follow a code of ethics? Here are the Code of Ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists (see below for the entire document). The main categories: Seek Truth and Report It, Minimize Harm, Act Independently, and Be Accountable. Minimize Harm is often, unfortunately, in direct conflict to Drive Traffic/Ratings/Eyeballs/Revenue (see Britney Spears et al). This is really the test of any person who creates media viewed or read by an audience. It goes to the values of the media source, as well as to the individual creator of content.
Do bloggers lack writing capabilities? I feel strongly that blogs and online media have given an outlet and audience to a tremendous number of individuals who otherwise would have had little outlet for their nascent writing skills. It also has allowed struggling writers to hone their craft, develop an audience, and pay their bills in lieu of working multiple schlep jobs. You can look no further than Paul Maguire for an example of this. His Tao of Poker is one of the most widely read sites about all things poker, and he was one of the early adopters when it came to blogs and revenue generation. He also is a terrific writer, and the former has enabled him to hone his craft with the latter. I would relate my own personal experience as the polar opposite side of blogging and writing capabilities. I've been able to develop my own voice, style, and skills through writing this blog and writing for websites. I have zero training in writing (OK, one college course in Creative Writing--irrelevant), but I've brought some of my business skills to what I do: research, interviewing, analytical capabilities. How different are bloggers from journalists and authors when it comes to writing capabilities? The best of all three of these really differ minimally from one another when it comes to writing skills (or maybe the best authors are different than the best journalists, those more experienced can chime in as I don't think I'm qualified to know what I'm talking about).
The Blogosphere is abuzz, so what do you think?
Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics Preamble Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.
Seek Truth and Report It Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
— Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible. — Diligently seek out subjects of news stories to give them the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. — Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability. — Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises. — Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context. — Never distort the content of news photos or video. Image enhancement for technical clarity is always permissible. Label montages and photo illustrations. — Avoid misleading re-enactments or staged news events. If re-enactment is necessary to tell a story, label it. — Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information except when traditional open methods will not yield information vital to the public. Use of such methods should be explained as part of the story — Never plagiarize. — Tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience boldly, even when it is unpopular to do so. — Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others. — Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status. — Support the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant. — Give voice to the voiceless; official and unofficial sources of information can be equally valid. — Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context. — Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. — Recognize a special obligation to ensure that the public's business is conducted in the open and that government records are open to inspection.
Minimize Harm Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.
— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects. — Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief. — Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. — Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy. — Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. — Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects or victims of sex crimes. — Be judicious about naming criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges. — Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.
Act Independently Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public's right to know.
—Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility. — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity. — Disclose unavoidable conflicts. — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage. — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
Be Accountable Journalists are accountable to their readers, listeners, viewers and each other.
— Clarify and explain news coverage and invite dialogue with the public over journalistic conduct. — Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media. — Admit mistakes and correct them promptly. — Expose unethical practices of journalists and the news media. — Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others.
Not that it matters in the grand scheme of our lives in the midst of a recession, a housing market hardly at its basement, and a world changing in spite of us, but the World Series of Poker just made a change that significantly changes the most coveted title in poker forever. The WSOP Main Event, as reported by USA Today, will have a break of 117 days from the time the Final Table is set at nine players (14 July) to the time play restarts on 9 November. The Final Table will be broadcast two days later on 11 November.
Is this a great thing for ESPN and the fans? Absolutely. For viewers, we now have more of a reality show feel to the WSOP, watching throughout the fall to see who makes the Final Table then seeing the last nine battle to a new champion virtually real-time.
For poker as a competition (similar to a sport), it is ridiculous. Basically, we have two events within one: the WSOP Main Event Satellite (where there are cash prizes until you get to the final nine if you make the money) then the WSOP Final Table (almost four months later, where nine finalists start with different chip counts and play a SNG). Maybe I'm overreacting a bit, but this changes the competitive landscape of the Final Table tremendously.
Less experienced players can be coached up for four months, a no-brainer to any and every player at the Final Table. Other players can be game planned ad nauseum, players can practice and practice to fix leaks and tells. You name it, it can be done with this much time in between the events.
It also dramatically increases the opportunity for collusion at the Final Table. Remember, the difference between 1st and 9th last year was around $7.5mil. That's a pretty significant sum of cash, a huge incentive for players to stretch their values for a certain larger payout.
For those making the Final Table, the cash will become much more significant for sponsorship if they use their heads. Ratings will be significantly higher for the Final Table, which should not only make the cash outlay increase from the poker sites (if the players negotiate well) but should also bring out the mainstream, consumer marketers. With TiVo and other DVR's pounding away at commercial effectiveness, player logowear and usage is a white-hot commodity in marketing. Watch any NASCAR race and see how many drivers accidentally take a swig of Coke Zero if you want some evidence.
Maybe I'm just a dinosaur. Bud Selig obviously is not a steward of the game of baseball. Is Roger Goodell? More yes than no. Is David Stern? He seems to be a great combination of steward of professional baseball with marketer supreme.
I've always felt like poker was more like boxing and tennis than it was like the PGA or the NFL. Too many factions focused too much on marketing and revenue and not enough on overall growth and field of competition. Maybe it's an unfair comparison, to view televised poker as more than it is: an event where individuals can put their own money up and have a chance at winning a mountain of cash, living their dream in the process.
Any opinions on this? Is the WSOP a marketing event? Does it matter if the answer is yes?
Press release from the WSOP
WORLD SERIES OF POKER® ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENT TO 2008 MAIN EVENT FINAL TABLE FORMAT; POKER’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS EVENT CHANGES THE QUESTION FROM ‘WHO WON?’ TO ‘WHO WILL WIN?’
Final Nine Players Will Square-Off This November on ESPN
LAS VEGAS – May 1, 2008 – The World Series of Poker® (WSOP) Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light today announced a groundbreaking change that will more closely align the televised presentation of the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious poker tournament with other premier sports broadcasts. he last nine players of the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16.
“Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “Now fans and viewers will ask ‘who will win’ our coveted championship bracelet instead of seeing ‘who won.’ The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented.” This change in how the Main Event final table is staged will bring the excitement and drama of high-stakes WSOP tournament play closer to millions of fans around the globe. All other 2008 WSOP tournament structures and schedules remain unchanged. This announcement affects only the final nine players of Event #54, the Main Event World Championship.
Continuing the trailblazing efforts that have made the WSOP the industry standard, this move is being made in close collaboration with ESPN, the television rightsholder of the WSOP, and the WSOP Players Advisory Council (PAC), the commissioner-appointed committee of professional and amateur poker players who provide guidance and perspective to the WSOP leadership team. "It's an exciting time for the World Series of Poker and ESPN," said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN Content Development. "This adjustment will add a new element to a very successful and popular event. We look forward to documenting all of the exciting stories that make the WSOP Main Event the seminal competition in all of poker."
“This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table and that is good for all of us,” said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and one of today’s most successful and popular poker professionals. “Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I’m very excited about this decision and can’t wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!”
The 39th annual World Series of Poker will take place from May 30th to July 14th at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event will begin on July 3rd, with the Final Table being determined on July 14th. The nine players who advance to the Final Table will return to the Rio on November 9th to play down to just two players. The final two, will go head-to-head late in the evening on November 10th to determine the champion and winner of poker’s ultimate prize. The winner of the Main Event is expected to be crowned in the early hours of November 11. ESPN will edit the two-day Final Table action and televise it in a two-hour program from 9:00-11:00 PM ET on Tuesday, November 11 just hours after the winner is crowned. This is akin to television coverage of the Olympic Games, where because of time zone differences, the telecaster schedules programs “same day” in primetime to provide the largest possible audience a convenient viewing time.
ESPN will begin its coverage of the 2008 World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 22. Viewers will see two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through November 11 (except November 4 when a special preview of the Final Table will be aired at 10 p.m.). Telecasts will be aired at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 22 through September 30 and at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from October 7 through November 11. Each of the players who make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table will receive ninth place prize money on July 14, when the finalists are determined. Harrah’s will then provide each of those players with an all expense paid trip for two for their return to Las Vegas in November to play the final portion of the tournament.
From July 14 to November 9, a span of 117 days, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available.