It's worth noting that I wasn't invited to BadBlood's house because the NBA game was especially signifigant. He's a Boston native and has a lazy bandwagon interest in the Celtics. I liked the Celtics too, back in the Larry Bird days.
In fact, I had a giant life-size cutout of Larry legend all the way through college. As a youngster I shopped for the same converse shoes Larry Bird wore. I only wached games in which he played. Larry Bird was the reason I cared, to the extent that I did actually care, about pro basketball at all.
So when I went to see Badblood's new 500-inch plasma TV, I spent the game rooting, not for the Celtics, but the Cavaliers. I was rooting for their big superstar LeBron James.
I'm that guy. I root for the big stars. If Tiger Woods isn't playing, I won't watch golf. I watch my favorite baseball team (Cincinnati) but I'll also watch Johan Santana or Albert Pujols.
I like to watch Payton Manning.
I'm that guy. I didn't mean to be. But I am.
Except with poker. I don't give a crap about professional poker players.
That's not to say big poker players don't have an impact that matters even to a nobody like me. Otis wrote a far better piece on the "Moneymaker Effect" than I ever would or could. I can't deny his influence.
The following year, when Greg Raymer won, I thought he was a great ambassador for the game. I met him the following January while he played in the WPT in Nassau. He was gracious with his time and imparted this wisdom to me, Al Can't Hang, and BG, "Always do anything for +EV in a cash game. Tournaments are different."
That advice is smarter than it first appears.
Still, I'd argue the "Moneymaker Effect" is far more important than the player himself. How much can you tell me now about the life of Christian Andreas Doppler?
And it didn't matter whether the unknown amateur winning the WSOP was him or Joey Sixpack, the "effect" would be the same.
Famous TV Guys
Perhaps the tipping point for me is Hevad Khan. I truly hate that guy. We can, of course, debate whether or not Mr. Khan is a douchebag with or without the need for TV time, but clearly he IS a douchebag ON TV.
Further, the TV fame of idiots like Mr. Khan gloss over their actual accomplishments. Here's a youtube video of him playing 26 PokerStars SNG's at the same time.
According to SharkScope he's lost about $40K playing that way. At least we know his name!!!
I was further fascinated by an interview with Phil Gordon on the New York Times blog I saw linked over on Iggy's site.
Q: What percentage of professional poker players would you consider to be compulsive gamblers?
A: Ninety percent of the "professional players" I know have some serious "leaks" that affect their ability to hold on to their money. Whether it's playing too big for their bankroll or betting on sports or casino games, these leaks have a way of keeping many of them completely broke no matter how much they win on the tournament circuit.
That's pretty interesting I think. But this is more to my point:
Q: Typically, how long does it take players to progress from one skill level to the next (assuming they play several times a week)? How long before a new player is able to break even consistently, or even turn a profit?
A: It really depends on the player. Rapid improvement is much easier today than it was when I was learning -- the Internet completely changed the learning curve. You can play in 100 tournaments a day or more online. There are 18-year-old kids that started playing poker a year ago that have played five times as many tournaments than I have in my entire life.
Phil, I totally agree. It isn't that the "name pros" aren't that great at poker, it's that there are thousands and thousands of no-name players who are at least as good.
Who needs pros?
The Final Table Delay
This is part of the real reason Harrah's and ESPN will delay the final table of the main event in the WSOP. They need time to CREATE the kind of notoriety for those players that they can promote. They need to CREATE people for us to invest in a la LeBron.
We can be reasonable sure that, other than people who VERY closely follow the professional circuit like Otis, people will not know the names of at least 8 final table players. Perhaps none.
That's just fine with me.
Part of the beauty of the "Moneymaker effect" was to show that a nobody could win the game's biggest prize. How's he done since? Frankly, I still don't care.
I want to watch the hands played. I want to watch the strategy unfold. So, Humberto likes to say "Dee Chark!" I don't care.
I was at one of those lousy restaurants where you throw peanuts on the floor with Badblood and Otis when one of them asked this:
If a table of players from a local game was playing to my left and a table of "name pros" was to my right, which one would I watch?
I can honestly say, if the games were equally serious, I'd be happy with either one and would probably try to watch both.
LeBron, Pujols, and Tiger can do something I never can and never will. I am in awe when I see them perform.
If Chris Moneymaker can win the ME at the WSOP, so can I.