May. 1st, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
The skillsets required to become a long-term winner in the live tournament field just shifted a further large step away from the talents required to win in cash (online and offline) and tournaments (online MTTs and sit'n'goes).

ESPN is to broadcast the final table of the WSOP Main Event live, at the end of its series on the WSOP. The only slight drawback here is that the series is broadcast up to mid-November, and the Final Table bubble boy in the Main Event will be knocked out some months earlier. It will make for the longest toilet break in history.

I'm sure that the implications of this will be discussed at great lengths on all those fora that I cannot access at work. And yet I predict that there will still be an unintended consequence that no-one foresees or prepares for.

Walking away from the whole principle of the thing. Hell, if I enter the WSOP Main Event, it's my money at stake. And my 9% or whatever is being deducted. How much is ESPN adding? No, let's not worry about that. Let's just look at the practical implications.

1) Illness/death. There was a lovely story about a guy buying tickets to see George Burns when the guy was still performing in LV. The customer asked whether he should take the 7pm show or the 10pm show. The salesperson said: "He's 98. best to go for the 7pm show". It strikes me as a mite unfair that the sole allowance here is that a no-shower will be blinded off. For once, actuarial factors have to be considered.

2) Collusion/soft play/secret deals. Almost an inevitability, I would have thought, even if the hands are being televised live.

3) Coaching. Almost guaranteed that any player who lucks into the final table will be a very different player when the final table starts. It's like a satellite tournament and a single table tournament with different starting stacks. You will not be playing the "same" players.

Fortunately (for me), I'm not a live tournament specialist, but I do wonder how far away from cash poker it has to go before it's accepted that it is a completely different game. (Although, as I've said, I think there are bits which transfer over that many people ignore).


The French government is to allow La Poste to sell insurance through Banque Postale, which has 17,000 outlets. The Association of Tied Agents in France has objected to this on the grounds that it could have "a destabilising effect".

Only in France, one might think, but, sadly, it's not the case. People can say with a straight face "it will be destabilising, so we shouldn't do it", with a straight face. Why doesn't a reporter ask them about the invention of the motor car, or fire, or the wheel, or the farm tractor? All of these had a "destabilising effect". Did that make them bad in principle?


Still in the land of insurance, Japan's Aioi is to fine 17 of its senior executives for their roles in investing in subprime derivatives. The CEO will lose the equivalent of one month's salary over the next two months. I eagerly await similar statements from RBS and HBOS.


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