Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 9:06 PM
WSOP 2007 on ESPN

I promised a post on the WSOP coverage. I have watched every week, and I have plenty of thoughts every week, but I have trouble organizing them in a meaningful way into an interesting blog post. So try no more! Here is an uninteresting blog post that is organized in no meaningful way.

First of all, to argue about whether High Stakes Poker or WSOP is the best poker show on TV is comparing apples and oranges. HSP is like an Oscar Award winning movie. WSOP is like watching the Oscars. The WSOP coverage is not really about the playing of poker. It is a celebration of the poker life.

I think they do a good job of capturing certain things in their coverage. For instance, when they ended the episode with the bubble popping leaving all remaining players knowing they were now in the money, I think ESPN did an excellent job of contrasting some agonizing hands that were potential bubble busters with the widespread celebration once the bubble burst. I recall Padilla describing the moment in 2005 well, and the coverage seemed to capture on camera what Padilla captured on the blog.

I love the way most people bust out and they show just how little any one cares. Dog eat dog world; exit is this way. I love how they highlight players that are chip leaders only to show them bust out hours later. I love watching pros lose on a massive suckout. You do get a very good sense of just how devastating the thing can be.

When I first saw Hevad Khan on TV, I thought the same thing as everyone else: This guy is annoying. I told Jane, “If he is ever at the featured table with Humberto Brenes, kill me.” Well, they were together last night, and I am glad Jane opted out of killing me. Are there any two more annoying players in poker? That said, are there many players that are better? More on that later.

I have always been interested in ESPN’s inclination to focus on mini-celebrities rather than just the big-name pros and the Cinderella stories. For instance, in 2003, they focused on Dutch Boyd. At the time, 99% of ESPN watchers did not know Dutch Boyd from Pink Floyd, but if you were a regular at rgp at the time, you knew who he was. This year, they have focused on guys like Kirk Morrison, also unknown to most of their audience but well known among the hardcore. Ditto with Kenny Tran. Well known if you are a professional poker player, but he’s no Doyle Brunson. And of course, there is Hevad Khan.

Hevad falls into the strange category of internet celebrity. I am not that big of an Internet geek, but even I know some of the biggest Internet poker celebs – Jennicide of internet poker and moderate-hotness fame, Russ GCA of poker forum fame, JJProdigy of multiple account infamy, and yes, Hevad Khan. Hevad Khan was rumored to be a bot on rgp. The reason was that he typically played 20 SNGs simultaneously, and at one time played over 40 tables simultaneously. Hell, I can open that many windows, but Khan won a shit load of money doing this. That is truly amazing. I had been wondering if/when ESPN would talk about this, and they finally did last night. He actually got his account suspended for a period of time until he proved that he was a human playing all those SNGs.

Here it is:

Now you can hate the player if you want, but the dude does have some unbelievable skills.

Much ado has been made of the three-way tie for the record for most WSOP cashes. The tie at 8 and is between Michael Binger (2007), Humberto Brenes (2006) and Phil Hellmuth (2006). It only occurred to me last night that as difficult as it has become to win the Main Event, it has gotten easier to cash. The percentage of players that cash in an event is constant around 10%. So growing fields don't really make it any less likely to cash. However, the explosion in the number of events offered certainly does. Thus, we shouldn't be surprised that the record was set in 2006 and tie in 2007.

And then there is the ubiquitous Humberto Brenes. Although his contrived shtick is tired, he is clearly a very good tournament player. He cashed eight times last year and he seems to make it late in just about every event on TV. So I will give him props. But kill me if I ever have to sit at a table with him.

OK, one more WSOP observation. Chris Moneymaker has really proven that he is awesome at poker ever since he won it all in 2003. Not! Man, contrast that with how well Raymer and Aussie Aussie Aussie have done. Even Jamie Gold, ass he may be, has played better poker than Moneymaker. Moneymaker's 15 minutes are over (except for the token coverage he gets in an early WSOP episode each year, which are really 15 minutes of train-wreck watching, the poker equivalent of starring on the Surreal Life).

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Random thoughts from a lawyer, an accountant, a commodities trader, an ex-Marine and a WSOP Main Event money finisher that don't know as much as they wish they did...



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