Jul. 16th, 2008


Jul. 16th, 2008 01:15 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
There was some kind of Full Tilt Down-Under poker tourney on TV while I was at the gym this morning. My headphones are tuned steadfastly to Radio Pete and I don't wear my glasses while training, so I couldn't see the names of any of the players. However, that didn't really matter as the only one of them whom I recognized was Andy Black, who made a theatrical fall to the floor, presumably for the benefit of the cameras.

However, I did recognize all of the players interviewed off-table. I'm not sure what Negreanu, Matusow (who looked rather like he had just rushed from a re-recording of In The Navy with YMCA), Antonius and Tilly brought to the party, but it did set me thinking "hmm, how much are they being paid for this?"

I was pushed further down this line of thought when Andy Ward posted on his http://www.getitquietly.blogspot.com/ blog about a 2+2 thread that discussed how winning a bracelet wouldn't generate any greater level of respect for you as a player than you had before, from the people that mattered

My butterfly mind then popped into the area of song promotion. Apparently everyone wants their agent to get them onto Later With Jools, whereas if you want to sell mega record-numbers you have to appear on Good Morning Britain, or any one of its other clones.

The sad fact of it is, it's quite a bit more fun travelling the world on a perpetual holiday, with your flights and rooms being paid for (not to mention your entry fees) than it is to sit at home grinding out a million bucks a year by playing online. It might be less profitable travelling the world, but the quality of life is higher. A perfect balance ('cos all of that travelling and hotel life can itself become a bit wearing) would be half a year playing online and half a year being a subsidized poker site representative with all expenses paid. And it's a LOT more enjoyable than spending the six months on the tour having to fund yourself. I mean, how many players do you know actually have a positive EV from self-funded round-the-world tournament games? Far more sensible to move to LV and play the $1000+ buy-in tournies that take place there on a regular basis. And you can still be home for tea (assuming the standard bad beat on level 2).

In return for accepting the forty pieces of silver from an online poker site, you have to appear on TV for interviews and the like and, generally, not do things like deny the holocaust.

Hellmuth mastered the art of self-promotion long before many of today's stars came into the game. He knows that he has no respect amongst the players that matter. But nevertheless he turns up as an "11-star-general" accompanied by paid assistants because he doesn't care that he's a laughing stock amongst poker players. What he wants is to get onto the US equivalent of Good Morning Britain. Which do you think sells more copies, Hellmuth's Play Poker or Harrington's Cash Poker? Well, go into a poker bookshp and the answer is the latter. Go into a general bookstore, however, and Hellmuth will probably be the only one of the two that is available.

So, those players that earn a lot of money online want the bracelet "a lot", not because it will garner extra kudos with their peers, but because it will increase the chance of them achieving a more balanced lifestyle. They are probably also of an age where "fame" is something of its own reward. It gets you into parties and it gets you chicks with little brain but a love of the high life. It gains you "friends".

The problem with the WSOP is that a bracelet isn't what it was. It's not easier to win (indeed, it's harder to win) but the number of events and the number of balls in the hat to win it have both increased dramatically. Just winning a bracelet isn't enough. You probably need at least three or four before the poker sites really start going for you (unless you have other attributes).

The description of what it was like at the WSOP just made me less likely to be interested in any of it. At least the Bellagio tournament in December retains a bit of decorum (although this too is thinning....). Harrah's has its own problems too (look at the recently lowered rating of its debt in the default swaps market) and it will never hesitate to screw the mass-market punter in favour of the media, the stars, or big business in general.


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