Monday, July 17, 2006

WSOP Happenings

Wow, I never thought so much could happen in the poker world within 24 hours. Just yesterday morning I was writing about some of my friends who either cashed, or were still in the race at both the series and Orleans.

Here is an update on them, and some other happenings:

Jerrod Ankenman is the second chip lead going into the final table today!

Both Peter Costa and Thor Hansen made the cut in the O8 event (remember I stated that Thor was barely hanging on, but that he could turn it around? Turn it around he did!).

Harry Demitriou is the big story. Rio screwed up the shoot-out event so badly, that Harry took it upon himself to protest for everyone. While his manner may have not represented the very best in poker players, the result was a lot of media attention (besides CP, who were forced to take down the story almost as soon as they put it up; blackmail anyone?). He was originally treated very harshly, but then later given a full refund (which he accepted although he is a very good shorthanded player and had more than his original starting chips). It also proved to highlight some of the absolute FUBAR's going on at Rio. Whole events being changed completely AFTER players buy-in. Players being given no notice whatsoever that Rio is going to simply do whatever they want, and screw the huge juice that the players have to pony up.

Something this big is going to change tournament poker, imo. I could very well be wrong, but I do believe at this time, the horror we are seeing at Rio is going to unite the players, finally.

Rio is profiting on every aspect of the series, yet charging the players more than ever for the "privilege" of playing there! Then they further anally rape the players by changing everything with no notice, or at a moment's notice.

Something has got to give. I hope for once the players unite and stand together. The guy in the middle is suffering hugely. The guy who is not getting tons of sponsorship. The guy who doesn't have an armful of bracelets or TV recognition. The hugely successful guys who are just barely scratching by due to the lack of lots of wins recently.

These types of things are what helped drive me out of tournament poker. I had lots of reasons to get out of it, and get back into cash games, but surely what is happening at Rio was one of them. I feel so badly for the middle guys that I just want to scream.

I compare it to reality TV. How many people would make this kind of deal?

Say you are interested in being on Survivor. So you go and audition. You pass the audition with flying colors and the TV station says they are definitely interested in putting you on the show. But then they tell you this:

1) You must agree to be filmed 24/7
2) You must agree to a set of rules which may compromise your integrity
3) You cannot and will not give any interviews, magazine article or TV appearances on any other networks without the written permission of the network which airs Survivor. If you break that promise during your lifetime, you agree that the network can sue you and recover any funds you may have won
4) Your friends, family and home will be completely open at all times for interviews and camera crews, regardless of their interest in being on TV. If you are stalked, your home is vandalized or you, your friends or your family are harmed in any way due to your entire life being made public in that manner, you have no legal recourse with the network whatsoever, and can not reclaim any damages from them.
5) If you are hurt or injured at any time during the show, you cannot ask for any recompense.
6) For the "privilege" of appearing on Survivor, and the chance of winning $1 million dollars, you must put up your part of the prize pool, which is $100,000.
7) In addition, you must pay the TV network an "entry fee" of $10,000 for the "privilege" of being on television, and the work that the crew must perform to make sure you are on TV. The entry fee is non-refundable, even if you don't get airtime.

So, if you were forced into this deal, how many seasons of Survivor do you think would have been televised? How many participants do you think they would have gotten? Would people be lining up by the thousands to be able to participate?

Yet this is what cardrooms are doing to players every, single day. For playing in a tournament, the players basically sign their lives away, agreeing to let the house, the TV station and all advertisers profit greatly, while they basically pay for everything. Pay to participate, pay to appear on TV, pay for the "chance" to win part of the prize pool.

I'm not saying that poker players are such a rare commodity that they deserve tens of thousands of dollars just for their appearance. But what I am asking is simply this:

Why does everyone else get to profit from the TV poker boom except the players? The players are still 'paying' to play! Paying huge fees, and getting tons of arguments, changes, cancellations, marked cards and horribly run events! It makes absolutely no sense, except that cardrooms get away with it.

And that is really the bottom line. They get away with it, so why change?

Until players can band together and put a stop to this, it won't end. And even if they do? Will that cut off the poker boom? Will everyone eventually suffer, instead of just the middle guy?

I have no idea what the future holds, and what will happen to tournament poker. The only thing I do know is that I feel bad for the guys in the middle, the Harry Demitriou's of the world, who finally have had enough anal rape for one day, stand up, and protest.

They are my friends, somewhat my peers. And many of them are suffering greatly.