by Kathy Courtesy of BuzzDaly.com
Poker players everywhere are breathing sighs of relief that the World Series of Poker will indeed take place in its traditional Horseshoe setting. The annual four-day green felt gauntlet is just three weeks away now that last-minute obstacles to the casino ownership transfer have finally been cleared away. It may be under Harrah's, but it's still the Horseshoe. Hurrah!
And it's spring, a time when a poker player's fancy turns to thoughts of WSOP satellites. For those who've already won entry through that popular parlay route, and for many others who by hook or by crook have managed to scrape together the requisite funds, an imminent trip to Las Vegas is surely in the cards.
Some - especially players with successful track records - are busy cobbling together their buy-ins by selling "pieces of their action," for which they'll have to divvy out proportionate shares of their winnings to friends, family members, and other investors - should they make the money. (With a predicted playing field of over a thousand competitors, including the toughest players on the planet, that's a pretty tall order.)
Of course, the well-heeled don't have to worry: For them, $10,000 is mere chump change - nothing more than an afterthought on a financial statement.
Yet however they're paying their way into the largest of all poker events, all players expecting to play in this year's championship event want the top money - 2.5 million isn't chump change to anyone, except maybe Warren Buffet or Bill Gates - and they also want the title.
Although other tournaments - like the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in April - are nipping at it's heels, the WSOP is still the most prestigious of poker events, and first place in the no-limit hold'em championship event goes to the "World Champion," the most coveted of all poker titles.
And even for the rest of us: members of the press, those watching players they know, and curious onlookers - the excitement is building. Who will be this year's champion? Will it be another unknown like Chris Moneymaker, moving up from the anonymity of cyberspace to catch even veteran players like T.J. Cloutier, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth off guard? Or will this be a year for a known name to win the big one? What about a European or Asian upset? Care to make a prediction?
Predictions in poker can be risky, even for pundits. I pulled out a volume of essays (Poker Essays, Volume II, 1996), by poker guru Mason Malmuth and found the following fascinating predictions among a group of six:
1) There will be a decrease in the number of major tournaments. According to Malmuth, these events "tend to burn players out both mentally and financially."
2) No-limit hold'em will be a game that a few old-timers will remember. Gee, isn't this the game that's sweeping the TV ratings? The one everyone wants to play so badly that cardroom managers are forced to turn people away unless they sign up early for the no-limit tournaments?
3) The rake will continue to rise and stifle the growth of poker and will cost cardrooms money in the long run. Hmmm. Cardooms are adding tables; casinos without poker rooms are scurrying to include them, and millions of people around the world are all fired up about poker through the magic of TV. Just about everybody is suddenly crazy about poker. (Must be the dreaded rake backlash hasn't had a chance to set in yet.)
4) Limit Omaha, played for high-only, will slowly disappear. Really? I think the jury is still out on this one - at the very least. I've heard only this week that the Orleans, among others, has an active interest list in this game. It's been going strong at Sunset Station for the last several years, and at plenty of other places too. Most importantly, it's available all over the Internet. That means anyone with a computer can play it - here, there, and everywhere - even in Ireland.
Now, in fairness, Malmuth's other two predictions were right on the money.
Hold'em will make more inroads into stud. That's a fact. No disagreement there.
But Malmuth also said in his first book of essays that limit hold'em is a considerably more complicated game than no-limit hold'em. (No remember, no-limit hold'em is the game he predicts only old-timers will remember.)
In fact, he says no-limit hold'em pretty much died out in L.A. cardrooms partially because, "No-limit was too easy to play well."
Whoa. Personally, I agree with Doyle Brunson. In Super-System, the recognized "bible of poker players," published in 1978, (a year before Malmuth played in his first casino poker game, according to Malmuth), Brunson, a two-time winner of the WSOP who came in second two other years, says, "A lot of limit players-and now I'm talking about the very best limit players-just can't play no-limit."
A bit further, Brunson adds, "What's more, they can't adjust to the complexity of no-limit play - and they find it very hard to go from what's essentially a mechanical game (limit) to one that takes in everything (no-limit). Only very special players can make that transition successfully."
In the short run, poker will continue to grow rapidly. Right again, but Malmuth doesn't mention the long run other than to say he believes the rake will stifle poker.
I guess predictions are rather tricky. Or maybe they're just a matter of timing. Heck, maybe the're just a bunch of cliches, anyway
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