Friday, November 12, 2010

Luxembourg is Nice; France, Meh

All the globetrotting of late (or, you know, flying back and forth across the Atlantic) makes life a big strange. I got back from Luxembourg/France on November 7th, with a few weeks home before heading off for GSOP Live Malta on the 21st.

Luxembourg was really, really nice, enough so that the hour or so long bus ride to Amneville for the WPT event was tolerable. Amneville was a pretty bizarr-o setting for a poker tournament, but it went off well enough, except for a colossal cock-up during hand-for-hand play at the bubble.

Or, more accurately, because there was no hand-for-hand play. Not a single, solitary hand. The tournament staff were pretty laissez-fair about updating the clock to reflect players busting, and as far as anyone can tell, they had no clue as to what the real number of players left were. Just as they were starting to remember that they might need to pause things and do it hand-for-hand, boom, bubble was burst and everyone left was cheering.

It's one of those weird instances where the fact I work for bwin and mainly focus on their players actually made it more interesting, as one of our players was knocked out in either 55th or 56th (with 54 spots paying). Pretty rotten situation for him, as he was 63 or 64 years old and tried very hard to tightbox his way into a cash, as apparently he's having money troubles so even a min cash for 7,000 euros was a pretty huge deal.

He'd have been safe to fold to the money but lost AK versus AJ right before things got tense and was down to just three or four big blinds. Thinking there were 57 players left (which is what the clock showed), he shoved KQ fom mid-position and got called by K 10. 10 on the river sent him packing, but that's when it suddenly became apparent that there were actually 55 players left, not 57.

Sounds trivial but a couple of players made the money with just one or two big blinds, so he actually could very likely have folded to the money (and more importantly, claimed he would have folded his KQ and played his hand differently if he'd known the real situation).

Apparently the other guy that went out at the same time was in a similar spot, but despite various official complaints the tournament director refused to do anything to
make it right and claimed he'd run his tournament perfectly, choosing instead to quasi-blame the media as his defense for no hand-for-hand play was that they were too busy trying to clear all us unruly media out of the room first.

Which I guess is standard, all the way around, for a poker tournament in France. Viva la France.

At about the same time that was going on the news came out of one of the Partouche final table members getting disqualified for cheating with his fat "blogger" conspirator. I know, I know, it's all still allegations, but if you've seen the videos making the rounds it's like 99.9% certain shenanigans were going on, along with all the other circumstantial evidence.

I guess I'm not quite as alarmed as other folks, though, as far as repercussions for blogger types. I think in the short run there might be a little more inconvenience and scrutiny paid to those requesting media credentials, but in the end I just can't see it as being that big a game-changer.

It's not like bloggers and media in general get preferential treatment to begin with at most live poker tournament events, so I can't see access changing that much. Organizers still want coverage of their events, so I'd be pretty surprised if media are outright banned from the tournament floor. Players will be more likely to give media the stink eye when trying to do their jobs, but that's already the case 25% of the time, so nothing too new there.

There's a good argument to be made, too, that if you properly protect your cards it's a non-issue to begin with, as it's not like fat "blogger" was smuggling in an x-ray camera that could see through cards. Sure, players shouldn't have to worry about media standing behind the trying to get a peek at their cards, but again, protect your cards and even that's a non-issue.

But then again, who knows. Like any profession, it's kind of a shame to see attention really only paid to poker bloggers/media when it's negative stuff like cheating allegations (or more trivial complaints about the lack of updated chip counts for someone's uncle Mortie).

When you do your job well, it's like you're never there, as far as unobtrusively getting hand details, chip counts, and photos without interfering in play. But let one fat "blogger" allegedly cheat with a sketchy player who's already been banned from other casinos from cheating, and lo and behold, suddenly a case must be made as to why poker media is even allowed on the tournament floor.