Makes for the occasionally curious moment when, say, someone asks “What did you do this summer?” To which I’ll answer vaguely about having “done some writing,” perhaps mentioning my novel, and quickly turn the conversation back around. “What did you do?” I’ll ask.
Funniest exchange yesterday had to have been when a colleague was asking me about the NFL preseason, in particular about how a certain team had been doing. I confessed I hadn’t been following. “You didn’t see the game?” he said. No, I didn’t. “Didn’t you even read about it in the sports page?” he continued. Hadn’t gotten around to it, I said. Been busy. He was incredulous.
“What, have you been out of the country?”
I immediately thought of a particular hand from Day 4 of the EPT Kyiv Main Event, one involving the Dutch player Adrian Schaap and the German Michael Meyburg. There were 13 players left. Meyburg had raised from the cutoff and Schaap called him from the button. The flop brought two aces. Meyburg checked, Schaap bet two-thirds the pot, Meyburg check-raised a little over twice what Schaap had bet, then Schaap went all in.
Meyburg went into the tank, then started questioning Schaap. The whole time the Dutch player sat motionless with his arms folded and eyes closed (see picture).
I felt a little like Schaap when my colleague asked about my recent whereabouts. Just smiled and shook my head non-communicatively. Wouldn’t have been socially acceptable to stand with arms folded and eyes closed, I guess, but that’s how I envisioned myself responding. Like Meyburg, my colleague folded, and the conversation moved elsewhere. In other words, the game continued.
Since I have been out of the country, it’s taking me some time to get caught up once again with what seems like an abundance of poker-related news items that have broken over the last week or so.
A lot of the news has been TV-related. ESPN has decided to ink a new deal with the World Series of Poker, guaranteeing it will continue covering the Series through 2018. That announcement comes as ESPN has begun airing its 2009 WSOP ME coverage.
Not overly surprised by this news, actually, though it wasn’t that long ago -- say the fall of 2007 -- that it seemed as though some were starting to worry that ESPN would lose interest in the WSOP. The vibe has clearly changed since then, with ESPN’s commitment to poker further evidenced by the launching of that new internet-based poker show called “Inside Deal” which I keep hearing is terrific though have yet to get the chance to watch.
NBC’s “Face the Ace” has faded a bit into the background, where it will necessarily remain since subsequent episodes will be aired sporadically on random Saturday afternoons. The new show on the G4 network called “2 Months, $2 Million” has begun to air as well. That’s the one following the adventures of four online players (Jay Rosenkrantz, Dani Stern, Emil Patel, and Brian Roberts) over a couple of months this past summer. A good buzz going around that one, though I’ve yet to see it. Oh, and I guess there is something about yet another poker show, sponsored by PokerStars, that will be airing on the Fox network, too.
Meanwhile, earlier in the month we all heard about struggling WPT Enterprises Inc. (owners of the World Poker Tour) apparently being sold to a group called Gamynia Limited for the relatively paltry sum of $9.075 million. Then came the news this week that Peerless Media Ltd., a division of PartyGaming (who run PartyPoker), made a “superior offer” of $12.3 million and will instead be purchasing the WPTE. Still a ways away from the $700-million figure that some say was apparently on the table some years ago when the World Poker Tour was rockin’ and WPTE’s stock was at its peak.
Folks are speculating about the significance of PartyGaming getting involved here with the WPT. (See, for example, Dr. Pauly’s commentary.) It is certainly intriguing, though I can’t help but marvel at how much less intriguing -- or even significant -- the WPT’s livelihood seems now compared to even just a couple years ago.
There was a period -- lasting, say, from December 2005 when WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb issued that “Open Letter” explaining how the WPT had yet to turn a profit and lasting through April 2007 when the announcement was made that the WPT would be leaving the Travel Channel -- that the fate of poker, generally speaking, seemed closely tied to that of the World Poker Tour. Now, with many other tours growing as well as the several other television shows that have together pushed the WPT off of our radar, whether the WPT thrives or not doesn’t seem all that important in the larger context.
That’s not to say I’m not pulling for the WPT to stick around and succeed. Of course I’d like to see the tour right itself and remain a meaningful part of the pro poker circuit. And I’m also as curious as everyone (still) to learn what exactly PartyGaming is up to moving forward.
But there is a lot else going on that makes news about the WPT’s success or failure seem less urgent right now.
Sort of like the result of a preseason game, you might say.