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View Full Version : Is the World Series of Poker Main Event becoming pointless to watch?(minor spoilers)


Mahaloth
10-26-2005, 02:29 PM
Let's avoid major, major, spoilers. I have only seen Parts 1-4 of ESPN's coverage.

I see major player after player losing, partly because of bad luck and partly because of the erratic play of the amateurs in the tournament.

I'm mostly thinking of Phil Helmuth's exit. Guys are going all in on King/Jack and a pair of 7's. Phil flipped out seeing what those guys had and complained about it to the camera. I'll admit that Phil is a cry baby, but he's right. Total incompetant players can take out Pro's because of their random actions.

When I watch high-level Poker, I really do expect to see high-lvel playing. I've been watching the World Series of Poker for a lot of years and I am starting to think it was a lot better 10 years ago when you could always expect to see at least 3-5 great proffesionals at the final table.

Today, other than Dan Harrington, I don't think we've seen too many repeat final table appearances. It's becoming too random and too big.

I found myself this year prefering to watch the non-main events, since they crowds is so much smaller.

Any thoughts?

The Controvert
10-26-2005, 02:44 PM
IMHO, the point of the show is to glamourise poker tournaments so organizers can rake in more money. Thus, to the organizers, it's actually good to see regular Joe players in the final round so the regular Joe viewers can fantasize about being there too.

This is why you see a diverse mix of underrepresented (but photogenic) players on the screen in the early rounds. There's women, foreigners, young guys outta college and old fat white dudes to even out the professionals. Heck, they even showed a handicapped player who uses his feet to handle the cards.

The editing may therefore favor some lucky suck-outs against the pros, but you also get this from random luck.

There are still a few pros like Howard Lederer and Greg Raymer who are advancing, so it's not all fresh faced amateurs. Then again, a lot of these "amateurs" are playing a massive number of hands online, so may even have as much actual skill as the veterans even though they are unknowns.

Lemur866
10-26-2005, 02:51 PM
Look, if you have lots of amateurs playing erraticly a few are going to get to the finals by sheer dumb luck. But complaining that an amateur won because he bet "stupidly" kind of misses the point. You can't assume skilled play OR crappy play from your opponent. If erratic play beats skilled play, well, so much the worse for "skilled" play.

Enderw24
10-26-2005, 03:20 PM
Imagine I said that to win event X you'd have to go all in against a larger stack five times when you were an 80-20 favorite. That roughly translates to you having a higher pair than your opponent. So what are your chances of surviving?

Answer: 33%

In a cash game you would take this bet every single time. You live and breathe and dream and long for the times you can get all your money in and double up 80% of the time.
But in tournaments that's not the case. You pray to the poker gods that when you shove your chips in you come out of it alive because one cruel flick of the cards can send you out of the game and onto the rail. No scampering to the ATM to reload. You're just gone.Two thirds of the time, even in the most favorable of situation as I listed above, you are out of the tournament.

Tournaments are about luck. When the chips go in all that's left is to hope you sacrificed enough to the poker gods and you can survive.

But tournaments are about skill too. And you can prove it not by the individual but by the conglomerate. What % of those labeled professional make up the higher levels of a poker tournament? I'm not asking about who WINS the tournament, I'm asking about % of professionals that survive day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 as compared to the field? I'll bet it's higher.

My point is that skill nets you long term results as it always has and always will. But with a field as large as this is, luck is there. Luck has to be there. That's why it's called gambling! Doesn't make it any less exciting to watch. Just sometimes a little more unfair.

Gangster Octopus
10-26-2005, 03:36 PM
Re: Phil Helmuth.

I agree in the first case, the guy going all in with KJ was moronic and Phil had a right to be upset. But going all in with a pair of 7s is not necessarily a bad play. Is it the best play? Hard to say but it hardly deserved the derision Phil heaped upon it. I don't recall how the hand went, but do remember Phil being a jerk about that particular hand.

Does anyone have the hand history for that hand?

The Controvert
10-26-2005, 03:41 PM
Yeah, but most players don't have the skill to go all-in when they are the 80-20 favorite. So, assuming the other players have even worse survival odds, I'd say 33% is rather good.

The Controvert
10-26-2005, 03:48 PM
I don't recall how the hand went, but do remember Phil being a jerk about that particular hand.The announcers play a big part in how you remember a reaction. Same as in reality TV, the editing of that scene makes a huge difference. Since the show's producers want to make it entertaining television, they need a villain like Phil Hellmuth and they need to magnify his emotions. Lots of people who know Phil say he's a nice guy. Sure, at that moment, maybe Phil needed a cookie and he quickly left to calm down.

ShibbOleth
10-26-2005, 03:56 PM
I think if you watch the fourth episode, the way that Lederer plays and responds is a lot more of a "professional" think than Helmuth's bitching and whining. If Helmuth is so smart, then he knows that he's playing against chumps and he knows it comes down to luck and he'd not let people get him in the position he was in. He was responding to all ins, IIRC, not initiating them. If a guy has the stones to come all in against Helmuth when Helmuth pushes the pot, then he gets a "lucky" break, well that's just poker. I think, though I don't know, that the closer we get to the end the better poker we're going to see. Some of the pros (not spoiling names) had pretty large chipstacks going. Were they "just lucky"? Maybe those are just the pros who are better at playing the big tournaments, and maybe getting a few good breaks. That's a tournament.

Gangster Octopus
10-26-2005, 03:59 PM
The announcers play a big part in how you remember a reaction. Same as in reality TV, the editing of that scene makes a huge difference. Since the show's producers want to make it entertaining television, they need a villain like Phil Hellmuth and they need to magnify his emotions. Lots of people who know Phil say he's a nice guy. Sure, at that moment, maybe Phil needed a cookie and he quickly left to calm down.

Oh I don't doubt any of that, I understand Hellmuth to be a decent guy all but those moments after he gets eliminated or a bad beat put on him. At that moment and for several minutes afterward he is a complete ass most of the time. He never remembers the bad beats he puts on others, constantly laments the bad beats he gets and cannot concieve of another player's play if it is different than his conception of how the hand should have gone.. It is not my imagination because you see how almost evey ohter poker professional handles the exact same situations, usually with grace and some humility and maybe a wry smile, and even when they are visibly angry about something they don't lash out. I don't dislike Phil, but he really needs to get out of poker if he is going to be bothered so much by the luck factor of the game.

Mahaloth
10-26-2005, 04:22 PM
I agree about 7/7 being a pretty good hand to go all in with. I guess he was really pissed about the KJ hand, which was ridiculous. I know I'd react pretty badly to that. Phil is probably thinking that guy is going to go home bragging about this "great hand" that beat Phil when it was really all luck(he caught a Jack on the River).

I just remember the days when the Main Event was much smaller, though still the largest single tournament. You'd have final tables with Soctty Nguyen, TJ Cloutier, Phil Hellmuth, and other pros.

I wonder if they should up the entrance fee to $50,000 or $75,000. I know they won't because they want amatuers to think they can enter, but it'd improve the quality of play.

Otto
10-26-2005, 07:30 PM
I have no real recollection of the pocket 77 hand, but in general, going all in with it is not anything close to an automatic bad play.

As for the KJs vs Hellmouth's AKos, we only have Phil's word on how the play was going prior to that hand. Hellmouth pissed and moaned about how he laid down all these hands before that to project a tight image or whatever, but I for one wasn't inside KJ's head to know how he was interpreting Phil's actions. Maybe he thought Phil was on a steal. Maybe he put Phil on a small pair. Maybe KJ had been playing tight too and Phil didn't pick up on it. No way to know.
I just remember the days when the Main Event was much smaller, though still the largest single tournament. You'd have final tables with Soctty Nguyen, TJ Cloutier, Phil Hellmuth, and other pros.
At last year's final table we had three pros I can remember off the top of my head, Josh Arieh, David Williams and Dan Harrington, and one or two others who I can't recall off the top of my head. In 2003 there was Sam Farha, Dan Harrington, Jason Lester and Amir Vahedi. With pros accounting for half the people at the final tables the last two years, including one pro who made it there two years in a row against the two largest fields in historu to date, I don't think pros are under-represented in the higher levels of the tournament.

JSexton
10-26-2005, 08:12 PM
Last night, there was an excellent bit on FSN featuring Hellmuth, Lederer, Matusow, Negreanu, Cloutier and Gordon talking about the changes in the WSOP in the last three years. Very interesting stuff. Some points:

* Due to the edited nature of the WPT and other shows, you don't see the 'boring' hands that are the groundwork for successful bluffs. All you see is the big bluff, and that causes amateurs to think it's much easier than it really is.

* Having TV cameras present gives an added incentive for amateurs in features matches to try for those big plays, because they want to look like the hero to the boys back home. Even if they lose, they still got to be on TV playing against Doyle Brunson, and that still counts for something. That adds another layer of difficulty when it comes to bluffing them out.

* With a larger spread of skill levels at a table, it's hard to play a certain strategy. Tight is right against sloppy players. Aggressive play is right against better players. When you're facing both, what the hell do you do then?

* Lederer said it best, "You have to have cards to beat them." That means you can't use the subtle aggressive play that keeps losing pots for Annie Duke. She just can't adjust for a tighter style.

I think Farha has the right idea, overall. See as many cheap flops as you can, then jam the hands that hit.

SenorBeef
10-26-2005, 08:43 PM
I haven't been watching, but a point I want to make is that "pro" doesn't mean "someone I'd recognize from TV."

There are well known tournament professionals who follow the "tour", but 95% (pulled number out of ass) of poker professionals only play tournaments occasionally if at all. It's very likely that you've never heard of any of the top 20 poker players in the world...

So just because an "amateur", meaning non-tv personality, I guess, beats one of our TV pros, doesn't necesarily mean it's somehow a sign that poker is all luck or whatever.

In any case, often times, a beginner or intermediate poker player wouldn't even recognize or understand good play. I'm not trying to be elitist or anything - but go to the $30/$60 or $100/$200 tables at pokerstars and watch them. If you've only been playing poker for a year or less, you'll probably think "WTF??!??" every other hand. Tournaments tend to be more straightforward because of the constraints of the format, but my point stands.. that newcomers to poker have a pretty warped perspective of what constitutes bad play at high levels.

John F
10-26-2005, 09:02 PM
First off action Dan has a good style to play against erratic players so that works in his favor.

As for the ugly suck outs they are not the factor editing makes then look to be. You could only get so lucky to be at the WSOP and have a table full of donkeys. My fear would be the other side winding up with guys like Farha, Lederer, Scotty Nguyen, and John Juanda. :eek:

The problem is the pros can't make subtle moves because the donkeys don't see them. A guy like Hellmuth can't adjust to that but the reality is that they all need to take a step back from "playing the player" for all the beginning rounds and figure all unknown players to be reckless until you have reason to believe otherwise.

You can't put one of these reckless players on a good range of hands based on their actions many times because they don't know why they made the plays they did...neither do we when we are watching it on TV.