Friday, June 30, 2006

This year vs last

First of all I'd like to apologize for some wacky typos that appeared in my last post. I don't know where they came from, but I have destroyed them! I wanted to give a little lip service to the fine people running the WSOP who have made a few key improvements this year. Smartly, they convened a council of six of the top players (Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Harman, Robert Williamson III, and Daniel Negranu, between them 17 WSOP bracelets) to make improvements of all types to the tournaments and venue. One of the big problems last year was going to the bathroom. When break time came you might have as many as 2,000 people almost all of whom haven't gone to the bathroom in 2 hours who know they won't be able to go again for another 2 hours all rushing to the same 2 bathrooms. If you weren't a woman you were waiting in a long line (The hand full of lady players seemed to enjoy the roll reversal). Also the available facilities were far away (it might take you 3 or 4 minutes to walk there) and they had tons of cocktail waiters running around dishing out free redbulls, coffees and waters which only compounded the problem. In my first event last year after firing down about 3 of each I found myself in a state where if I wasn't currently peeing, I felt the need to. If I couldn't hold it I'd wait until it looked like a few people were going to be involved in a hand (which would make it take longer) and then I'd take off. I'd do my fastest, dorkiest walk ignoring all social graces, dodging flusies left and right who were desperate to sell me customized poker chips and sign me up for credit cards. The tournament organizers hated to see me this way and this year they've added a few large trailers (which are actually pretty nice complete with running water) that are loaded with scores of toilets and nearer to the tables. They've also instituted staggered breaks in the larger events where half the field goes on break while the other half continues play.

As far as poker improvements go they've made several. In the past (and in just about every poker tournament everywhere) when the players were approaching the money (ie if there are 52 players left in a tournament that pays 50 places) the tournament would be played hand for hand. This means that every table deals one hand and then waits until all other tables are finished. This process prevents stalling by players short on chips and eager to make the money and also makes it clear who went out in what place (If two people are eliminated on the same hand they split the prize money of the higher place). Although this process is fair it's also really slow and it leads to players leaving their table and running from game to game to watch anytime someone goes all in. This year they've instituted round for round play during which each table plays and entire round and any players that are eliminated during that round are all awarded the same place and split the prize money accordingly. For example, let's say you have an event that pays 100 spots, places 90th through 100th all pay $2,000 and round for round play starts with 105 players left. If every table plays a round and fewer than 5 people have been eliminated then everyone plays another round. But if 9 people were eliminated during that round (seems like a lot, but the blinds are big and it's just an example people, calm down) they would split the $8,000 that would have been awarded to places 97-100 and each get paid $888.88. In practice this seemed to really speed things up and it keeps everyone in their seats.

One thing I've noticed that may have happened last year, but I've really noticed this year is the tournament organizers listening to the players and accommodating them. At the start of day 2 of event #3 the blinds were set to start at 1000/2000, but were switched to 1000/1500 on the fly after some of the big name players pointed out that the jump from 600/1200 blinds to 1000/2000 blinds was too severe. In addition to providing good service and ensuring fair play, I'm sure they want to keep the big names happy so they don't get slammed in articles and interviews for the next 10 months.

On another note I find it interesting that it seems like all of the top 50 players in the world seem to know each other personally and are friends. It's like a big clique in high school except they are all millionaires. Hopefully I'll be part of the cool crowd soon.


Eebster said...

Was that 2:30 in the morning comment directed at me? In case it was, I'll have you know I didn't read it until 2:34 in the morning, so there!

Nice show today, by the way.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean "cool crowd soon?" We are the cool crowd!

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