Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The November Nine

That's what BJ Nemeth quotes a Harrah's (or is it Caesar's) Entertainment rep as referring to the final tablists at this year's WSOP Main Event. I agree with BJ (most do, he's a smart cookie), it's catchy. From today's PokerNews -

"As soon as the final table is set, the November Nine will immediately be paid ninth-place money. (Last year, ninth place paid $525,934; the average over the past four years was $890,798.) The remaining prizepool will be placed in an interest-bearing account, and the interest will be added to the prizepool."

So what would you do if you made the final table? Aside from drink heavily in celebration knowing that you didn't have to go to work tomorrow?

Would you call up Dan Harrington (or Phil Hellmuth, or Howard Lederer or Annette Obrestad or whatever poker tournament genius you could find) and put them on retainer for four months of training?

Would you join CardRunners and get help from some of the internet wunderkinder?

Would you study SNG and final table strategy?

Would you call up Mike Sexton and ask WWSUD? (What would Stu Ungar do?)

I'd honestly spend somewhere around 20% of the after-tax portion of the money I got in trying to give myself an edge. If it meant paying Phil Hellmuth $20K for a night's worth of poker lessons, you damn skippy I'd do it. If it meant setting up a dozen or more single-table tourneys with my friends running simulations of the final table by giving everyone the relative chip stacks and mimicking playing styles of my opponents as much as I could, you better believe it. If it meant paying some pimply-faced 14-year-old's annual subscription to for the next ten years so he'd write me the AI for a simulator program, absolutely I'd do it.

But I would spend that four months doing everything in my power to improve my game for the specific set of circumstances I would be facing in November. I doubt I'd play a single multi-table tournament, because that part of the event is over. I'd concentrate on SNGs and heads-up play, and I'd play thousands and thousands of hands of poker against the players that most closely mimicked the people I'd be facing. I'd be the Peyton Manning of poker I'd study so much f'n game tape. I'd stalk my opponents to their home games if I had a chance, just to get a little more information on how they played.

Is this good for the game? Who knows. It'll be a couple of years before we figure that out. If it gives poker another ratings bump that translates over to other broadcasts, then yes. If it fills more poker rooms with more fish, then yes. But this won't be a Moneymaker year. You won't have the wide-eyed hillbilly who plays in his first ever live poker tournament. You'll have, if they're smart, a group of nine final table competitors who may have been rubes in the summer, but who spent the whole of the fall turning into sharp poker players. And while the ability of ESPN to celebritize the November Nine may help boost poker in the public perception, the Moneymaker series was lightning in a bottle, and this will not be able to replicate that effect in any huge way.

But I reserve the right to be wrong. It's about the only right the current administration has left me. Time to go vote - I have a valid primary all of a sudden. And really, there can't be a whole lot of question who I'm supporting in this election. I'm supporting the candidate who wants to end the war and actually lived in the state he was elected to represent prior to deciding to run for Senate. I think the body count in a McCain presidency will be too high for me to stomach, and I think that Hillary will say anything in the world to get herself elected, and I trust her about as far as I can throw her husband and his chubby girlfriend. Obama is not the perfect candidate, and his former pastor is a racist. But frankly, my dad's a racist, and if I can move past that (although I still cross the street if I see a white guy coming late at night) then Obama can move past the statements his pastor has made.


Mondogarage said...

Good read on the November Nine. Frankly, I still hate the idea, though it's hardly a gloom and doom scenario. I think it will have little affect on the poker community aside from boosting ratings for the "live"-ish final table, but really, not even by that much, in real TV-land terms.

CK suggested I write you and find out what you know about the WPBT summer gathering of the bloggers now that my trial's moved and I can actually go...

I saw your drinking schedule, but is there any consensus on where folks are staying, and such?

Jim The Knife said...

It's nice to know I was right when you first informed our home game of the WSOP plans to delay the final table. They are all going to get some big bucks.
I voted already. As a registered "R", I couln't vote for Sen. Obama. I don't thing the R's have a chance so I voted for Ron Paul as a lark.