Thursday, August 26, 2004

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

My nephew is a bit of whiz went it comes to matters of a computer nature. Kindly, he downloaded a whole bunch of WSOP events (from Razz to PLO to NLHE they showed the lot!) which have been shown on ESPN, the American sports channel, over recent weeks in the lead up to the showing of the main event.

Several things came to mind while watching the overload of poker.

Firstly how much better the Americans are at televising poker. The commentary is mostly good, the editing is top class and the atmosphere is excellent. Sky and the various cable channels could certainly do with learning a few lessons.

Secondly, I really wonder if the WSOP will be as good at the Rio next year. Yes, I know the Horseshoe is a khazi, but there really is something special about the place. Yes, there will be room and it will be more comfortable next year. But, the Horseshow is the one venue where I get nervous before the event. The ghosts just seem to be swirling round the place. Then again, perhaps I have an overly romantic vision and I am talking rubbish.

Thirdly, the payout structures really were awful at the WSOP last year. Let's look at the first open event, the $2,000 No Limit Hold'em. 9th Placed paid $30,700; 8th was $46,040; 7th $61,380. Every prize money jump between 9th and 3rd was approximately $15,000 until 3rd was $122,640, 2nd $213,000 and James Vogl won $400,000 for taking the bracelet! How can there be such small jumps early on the final table and such massive ones at the end? It virtually forces players to make deals when they are playing for such huge differentials. Hopefully the payout structure will be much flatter next year.

But, the most overwhelming feeling I came away from watching all this poker is how badly behaved so many American players are. This manifested itself in many ways. Criticising other players, bad losing, swearing and cussing, rubbing down opponents when they were beaten and excessive celebrating. The last of these was by far the most annoying for me. Seasoned professionals whose play I admire acted like schoolchildren. For goodness sakes when you entered the tournament you expected/hoped you were going to win, so don't act like it's such a big surprise when you do win. It is graceless, unprofessional and rude to the player you've just beaten/knocked out. A whole gamut of players were guilty of these crimes: Negreanu, Matusow, Keller, Hellmuth, Fischman, Boyd, Clark, Sousa, Giang and Williamson all crossed the line to some extent. What have all these guys got in common? The are all American. The players who impressed by handling both defeat and victory with class and equinimity were Vaswani, Vogl, de Knijff, Bush, Colclough and Maxfield. Surprise, surprise, they are all European. Now, I am being a little bit unfair maybe. There are several Americans who act well at the table: Juanda, Phillips, Lindgren, Lederer, Forrest, Cloutier and Scotty Nugyen all spring to mind.

But, the fact remains, Europe is a far more enjoyable and congennial place to play poker. We should cherish and cultivate our good fortune and make sure anyone who gets out of line should be reminded of his/her responsibilty to the rest of the poker community. We fight hard over the tables, yet there remains a level of respect and friendship which should be admired.

We are lucky indeed. Let's stay lucky.


Blogger Balloo The Bear said...

couldnt agree more Camel. The problem is that it has reached our shores too with many British card rooms filled up with players who have learned their courtside manners from watching poker on TV. Dont know what can really be done....

5:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope your nephew hasn't been rummaging through your DOS files.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched the Vogl Victory alonside Keith (as poker is all that our TV will show, apparently) and I agree that James' conduct was exemplary. His 'unAmerican' attitude pissed off the comentators hugely. Best of all was his refusal at the end to hold up the cash on the grounds that it would appear vulgar. Classic! It momentarily restored my faith and very nearly made me feel proud to be English...


5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What's a DOS file?


5:54 AM  

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