Friday, May 28th, 2004, 10:06 am
There has been much lamenting about the dramatic increase in players at this year’s World Series, and how this meant it was much more difficult for top pros to make it to the final table because they had to wade through a vast school of fish who threatened to bust them by getting lucky playing bizarro hands. I think Annie Duke, after she got knocked out, said something along the lines that she wasn’t able to overcome the terrible play of some of her opponents.
To a certain extent I agreed with this viewpoint, until reading a column by T.J. Cloutier that, of course, put the matter in much better perspective. To win in the end you’ll have to outplay all those folks, but as T.J. says, you only have to outplay the other 9 players who happen to be at your table at the time. You can’t worry about what’s going on at the other tables, just focus on the players in front of you and beat ’em. I also remember another nugget of Cloutier wisdom–to win a tournament you only have to bust out one player, the guy you’re heads up with at the end. Don’t worry about knocking people out–if it happens it happens, but that isn’t your primary goal. You’re goal is to win the whole thing, not collect scalps.
Paul Phillips also pooh-poohs the idea that the game has changed forever because more players with less experience and ability are flooding the game. The game still comes down to playing better than the other guys (and gals), and if the majority of them are dead-money fish all the better for the top players. They have to survive against a bigger pool of opponents, but the payoff is so much bigger at the end. You still have to get lucky, and you now have to endure a much longer march to the final table, but the increased payouts make up for it. More fish = more dead money.
Today’s the day we’ll have our new champion, and if Dan Harrington wins, does he take the mantle of Best Player in the World? If you watch the WPT you’ve heard alternately that the best player in the world is Gus Hansen, T.J. Cloutier, Jennifer Harman, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Layne Flack…I’m sure I’m missing a few that Mike and Vince have anointed “maybe the best player in the world today”. Not that any of those players aren’t up there, but how about Harrington? He won it all in 1995, finished 3rd last year (in a field of, what, 893?) and is at the final table today after outlasting about 2490 players. You could argue that making it to the final table the past 2 years is one of the greatest feats in WSOP history, simply because he had to outlast so many players.
Incidently, if you haven’t been reading the updates at LasVegasVegas you’ve been missing out. Pics from the tables and chip counts and lots of great commentary. Stellar work under what must be trying circumstances. Sounds like the Horseshoe has something of a Black Hole of Calcutta motif going right now, what with all the players and media and railbirds filling the place to the rafters.
Our very own Iggy and Hank did the Vegas thing to the T, the lucky bastards. Next year I’m goin’, dudes. Start putting away my pennies so I can blow them next May. Actually might be out there that time next year for a bachelor party weekend. Do they have strip bars in Vegas?
I didn’t realize that the new season of Celebrity Poker started last night, so after coming home after volleyball and 1 beer too many at the bar I watched my favorite Steeler, Jerome Bettis, do battle with Wanda Sykes, Travis Tritt, Mena Suvari, and Rosalind…something. Sorry, didn’t catch her name.
The quality of play was better than what I remember last year, though that isn’t saying much. Wanda said she pretty much knew nothing about Hold-Em, so of course she ended up heads-up with Rosalind…something. It was a fun show to watch, mostly because Sykes was trash-talking non-stop and it was hilarious. Then again, I was pretty much exhausted and a bit polluted with light beer, so maybe it wasn’t as funny as I remember.
I do remember a few things: since when did Dave Foley decide to go with the Mephistopholes look? Rather a change since the days when he played Dave Nelson on NewsRadio, perhaps the least appreciated great show of the last decade. In fact, as Friends drew to a close NBC ran a promo calling it “the greatest sitcom of all time”, and then pulled it quickly when the Frasier folks bitched up a storm. I liked Friends, but not only was it not the greatest sitcom of all time, it wasn’t even one of NBC’s three best sitcoms of the last ten years. Seinfeld, Frasier and NewsRadio were all better than Friends. Well, maybe not Frasier–I liked the show, but I’d never watch a rerun of it today. Then again, it did when the Emmy like 13 times. And though I didn’t see the Frasier finale, at least it didn’t end like Friends, with Rachel inexplicably but predictably ending up with the insufferable Ross. Awful.
Dave and Phil Gordon seemed to have a pretty good rapport. I felt Foley was better than previous host Kevin Pollack, and Phil seemed a bit looser, but still too many recitations of statistics and percentages. A computer can give us the odds, we need Phil to give us commentary that only a top poker pro can give. What that commentary might be I can’t think up offhand, but I still feel free to criticize.
Second: Jerome Bettis is a big guy. Of course I know that having watched The Bus run over linebackers for years, but seeing him lounging on the couch next to Mena Suvari put his girth in perspective. Mine as well–I’m approximately the same height and, uh, weight as the Bus. Time to lay off the fried cheese, methinks, and start doing the occasional pushup.
Third: Mena Suvari looked like she knew what she was doing. She had the good poker face, made a few nice laydowns, and showed some aggression. Of course she busted out after Bettis made his ignoble exit, but thems the breaks.
I was playing myself as I watched, which was a welcome change. I’ve played very little in the last week, waiting for my money to be liberated from Pacific Poker. My computer grows more senile by the day, and I kept getting booted off their site. Practically after every other hand. So I put my money back in Empire and I’m working off yet another deposit bonus. It’s funny, when I’m trying to play enough hands to release a bonus I don’t care much whether I win or lose. Well, I don’t care much if I win–so long as I don’t blow the entire bonus while working it off I feel like I’ve gotten somewhere. I’m halfway home and I’m up a massive ten bucks, and it feels oddly sweet. First of all, I’ve been stuck in the doldrums the last two months. Just can’t get my game in gear. So it feels good to see my bankroll holding steady instead of dwindling away.
Second…well, I guess I don’t have a second point. I’m thinking of getting away from the ring games awhile and concentrate on sit-n-gos, I seem to do well playing no-limit and I’ve never focused on them before. I’d play my piddling low-limit stuff and make a few bucks and then top off the evening with a SNG, and I have a pretty good record in them. So why not play ’em more often? Why not indeed?
Another weird referral to my blog–if you type in “The Candy Colored Clown They Call the Sandman” this site is the first to pop up, because that was a title of one of my posts. What’s odd is that this Roy Orbison fan (or David Lynch fan) decided to click my link. The Internet is a weird place, my friends.
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