So, I’m writing this just after the end of game 6 between the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most exciting NHL playoffs in recent memory – it’s almost to the point where some tinfoil hat afficionados are up in arms but that’s another story. Anyways, this got me to thinking about the equivalent in poker: the WSOP.
Now, I’ve never played in the WSOP, but would like to some day (who wouldn’t?), however, I have to admit that some of the shine has really come off of the event. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker helped usher in a new era of poker. Here was the “everyman” winning the greatest poker prize of them all. Players flocked in droves with dreams of money and prestige. Sure, there’s still plenty of money to be made, but prestige?
When I first started getting interested in poker, I heard about the titans of the game: Brunson, Hellmuth, Baldwin, Chan. These were guys that went out there and played for a living before it was widespread and commonplace. The thought of winning nine bracelets, not to mention back-to-back wins of the main event was incredible! Surely these were gods among men! Their talent for the game was so dominant over us, that we had no choice but to concede to their dominance.
Now however, the winner of the main event is usually a nobody. Someone who caught fire at the right time, and rode that through an admittedly hellacious tourney. I don’t think we’ll ever see a main event final table filled with names we know and could believe had a place there. I don’t think we’ll get Ivey versus Hansen heads up for the bracelet. The main event has topped out at over 8500 participants. And anyone that is familiar with tournament poker knows that it is completely unreasonable to expect someone to go deep in consequtive years, let alone final-table or win the damned thing! As poker players, we know this, and accept that the variance in this one game is ridiculous. However, to the common person on the street, they may see the game as nothing more than most of us try to disprove – a game of luck.