Steven Holloway on Poker

nzherald.co.nz's Steven Holloway blogs about poker

Steven Holloway on poker: The tedious final table

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Greg Merson holds up his new bracelet after winning the World Series of Poker No-Limit Hold'em Main Event. Photo / AP
Greg Merson holds up his new bracelet after winning the World Series of Poker No-Limit Hold'em Main Event. Photo / AP

Two weeks ago, ESPN aired live coverage of the final stages of the 2012 Main Event from the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

I was excited. It was the one-time since leaving the enigmatic world of professional poker that I felt back in tune with the community. Everyone was watching it, everyone was talking about it and everyone wished it was them playing for the $NZD 10.52 million first prize payout.

Coverage started at 2pm (NZT) with three players remaining and I kept a close eye on proceedings, not wanting to miss a single hand or talking point.

Eleven hours later I was not so excited. But I hadn't stopped watching. Greg Merson, Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger had spent my whole afternoon and evening thinking, pausing, studying and folding their way through 247 hands of poker before they made it to heads up play.

It was tedious and boring but I couldn't turn away. I was so invested in the spectacle that it got the better of me, I couldn't bear the thought of watching for so long but then missing 'the big one'.

But I realise I am in the small minority here. Only the truly die-hard poker fans could stomach watching one hand play out every three minutes, and many of the games top players are crying out for change.

As far as a live televised 'sporting' event goes, it was pretty hard to watch.

Something is needed to force the action, to keep the everyman interested and the 'shot-clock' proposal is one of the best ideas.

A 'shot clock' (based on the NBA's idea to make games more entertaining) would do wonders because it would control the pace of the action and force players to make quicker decisions. It would increase the number of hands per hour, it would make TV viewing more appealing, and it would ultimately change the way players approach a live poker tournament.

Hopefully the trickle-down effect would eventually reach my home game too, where a $2 pre flop raise is often studied, paused over and analysed as though we are playing for millions ourselves. People love to copy what they see on TV and it's time for change.

Here are four other poker thoughts;

Hockin does it again

It is doubtful that any Kiwi poker will come close to the success Paul 'Kingpaulie' Hockin has achieved this year.

Two months after winning the NZ Poker championship in Christchurch for $35,000, Hockin won the ANZPT tournament in Melbourne at the end of October, outlasting 334 opponents to take down $101,275.

Hockin's amazing year kicked off in February when he finished third in the PokerStars Sunday Million for $117,120 and the 25-year old never looked back, developing an impressive 2012 CV that few in the world can match.

The Lederer Files

Arguably the longest-awaited interview in poker history was released in September and it truly rocked the poker world to say the least.

PokerNews' release of The Lederer Files, done by Matthew Parvis, got to the core of the Full Tilt poker debacle and asked the questions the poker public demanded answers to from former director Howard Lederer.

Lederer struggled through 3.5 hours of interview with a very selective memory, best portrayed by this edit.

Hundreds of thousands of people have viewed the interview and many of the biggest names in poker have since spoken out about their feelings.

The world's (second) top poker blogger, Bill Rini, has written an awesome two-part comprehensive review and analysis of the Lederer files (part 1, part 2). If you don't have the time to watch the 3.5 hours of video or read any other reactions, Rini's pieces are the most worthwhile.

Daniel Negreanu, one of poker's most vocal personalities, has made his distaste very public for anything and everything associated with Full Tilt Poker, and he reacted to the Lederer files in an interview with Pokerlistings.

Full Tilt poker

After 16 months of uncertainty Full Tilt has reopened its doors. Aside from the obvious benefits of millions of dollars being restored to players' accounts and online poker clawing back a little credibility, there is the re-emergence of multi-entry tournaments for the poker professionals to get excited about.

Here is Neil 'Puggy 82' Stewart's blog on the pitfalls associated with the multiple-buy-in format.

SkyCity festival of poker

With a guaranteed prize-pool of over $200,000 the SKYCITY Festival of Poker hits Auckland this weekend.

The series runs from the 17-25 November and features a No Limit Texas Hold'em Turbo, Celebrity Invitational, Pot Limit Omaha 8 Handed event, No Limit Hold'em Ladies Event, No Limit Texas Hold'em Deep Stack and the $2200 buy-in NZPT Main Event.

With a ton of qualifiers and satellite tournaments it should make for a juicy Main Event prizepool, with plenty of value for those who think they have an edge on the field.

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