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WSOP Changes Player of the Year Formula

 WSOP Changes Player of the Year Formula

On Thursday, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) announced that it has made changes to the WSOP Player of Year points formula, based very much on feedback from players.

The WSOP Player of the Year formula has gone through several iterations over the years. POY standings began in 2004 and from then through 2010, the World Series of Poker had its own formula. From 2011 through 2014, poker media outlet Bluff took over as caretaker of the rankings. For the next two years, the WSOP used the Global Poker Index’s proprietary formula, and last year, King’s Casino took care of the rankings.

It is probably impossible to come up with the perfect tournament rankings system and no matter how the formula is massaged, not everyone will be pleased with it. The biggest problem with last year’s formula was that it rewarded high volume, min-cash players way too much. Most of the players at the top of the WSOP Player of the Year standings were very deserving, but the weakness of the formula was on display with the winner, poker’s persona non grata, Chris Ferguson.

On top of being a guy that almost nobody wanted to see rewarded, Ferguson’s rise to the top of the standings was fueled by tiny cashes. He cashed 17 times in the traditional WSOP in Las Vegas and another 6 times at WSOP Europe. In Las Vegas, most of his cashes were in the four-figure range, which is a lot of money for me, but nearly nothing for a WSOP event. He did make two final tables, so that’s good. In Europe, he won a bracelet in a €1,650 buy-in event with fewer than 100 players.

It’s not that Ferguson performed poorly at the WSOP – 23 cashes is certainly some nice work – but it wasn’t a performance that felt deserving of Player of the Year.

In the meantime, David Bach won two bracelets – one in a $ 10,000 championship event – and had an 11th place finish among his five cashes, and was only able to finish 87th in the POY standings.

Thus, the WSOP has adjusted its formula, trying to achieve a balance of rewarding both consistency (number of cashes) and deep runs. The new formula, the WSOP says, is loosely based on the WSOP Circuit’s points system.

The most significant change is that bracelet wins are weighted much more heavily than they have been. In examples given in a press release, the points awarded for a win ranged from 3.25 to 8.16 times the points awarded for a min-cash. This year, the winner of an event will usually win around 20 times the points of someone who min-cashes.

According to the WSOP, Chris Ferguson still would have been Player of the Year last year, so the changes aren’t that good. Interestingly, the article the WSOP put out about the new formula did not mention Ferguson by name, just referring to him as the “winner.” Could be a coincidence, but I choose to believe it was done purposely.

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Annie Duke’s “Thinking in Bets” – A Poker Book That’s Not Supposed to Be a Poker Book

 Annie Duke’s “Thinking in Bets” – A Poker Book That’s Not Supposed to Be a Poker Book

Mention the name “Annie Duke” and you’ll get a polarizing response from most of the poker community. To some, she is one of the top female players who ever came to the felt, winning over $ 4.2 million in tournament cashes on her way to a second career as a top-flight businesswoman with Ultimate Bet and as the commissioner of the Epic Poker League. To others, she is the epitome of an unscrupulous and unethical (let’s just say it rhymes with “witch”) who got out of the game ahead of the lynching party for her actions with those two businesses. Such a polarizing difference makes it difficult to dissect her latest book, Thinking in Bets – Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.

Duke, who hasn’t had a significant live tournament cash since she won the 2010 NBC National Heads Up Poker Championship (for a $ 500,000 score), “retired” from the poker world (and its opinion of her) in 2012 (after the Epic Poker League went bankrupt) and, lacking a direction, fell back to the option that she once thought would be her life. Utilizing her education – she was a graduate student in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania – and her acumen on decision making from more than two decades in poker, Duke was able to reinvent herself as a “consultant on decision strategy” for the business world. Hence her new book, which she tries to emphasize “isn’t” a poker book.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard and Duke’s tome IS a poker book instead of the business strategy book she wanted. While she continually stresses that Thinking is not a book about poker, Duke continually comes back to the fact that poker and business ARE quite similar and, as such, she uses quite a bit of poker acumen (rather than business acumen) in explaining her stories. In fact, in an early anecdote she crosses the line between poker and business quite easily and unapologetically.

Duke’s story regarding a Chief Executive Officer and his decision regarding a company president is her first example of poker and business blending together. The CEO, after firing the president under discussion and the company entering a period of “hard times,” identified this move as one of the worst moves of his past year. Duke, however, instead identifies the CEO as being too focused on “resulting” – the eventual outcome of a move, no matter how correct it might have been – and states that it is a common occurrence in the game of poker.

In another segment where Duke attempts to use a gaming metaphor for a business decision, she mentions a prop bet made by Poker Hall of Famer John Hennigan that involved him moving to Des Moines, Iowa, for 30 days. After two days, Hennigan bought out of the bet, but Duke focuses more on the decision process that Hennigan and his fellow gamblers used to reach the proper wager and length of the bet to make it a tough decision for Hennigan – something that people in everyday life do when making decisions on relocating for a job, Duke surmises.

It seems that, while Duke is trying to put together a book that will be of assistance to business people – heck, maybe even the everyday person, especially when it comes to dealing with those who disagree with you – she also wants to relive her days when she was a feared player in the game. There is little that a businessperson would find in the book that would help them beyond what they already know, although they might find the gambling anecdotes amusing.

For those in the poker world that read the book, it might give them a moment of thought regarding how they think. I found that some of the information provided in the pages – the “resulting” segment was something that I see quite frequently on social media and poker forums, especially in strategy discussion of hands – would be useful to many people. Also of interest were Duke’s thoughts on qualifying statements (Duke believes that people don’t use the term “I’m not sure or positive” enough because it indicates indecision; she believes it indicates the ability to be able to formulate a new opinion) and how to work backwards from both a positive outcome and a negative outcome to be able to make decisions more effectively.

There are plenty of people who won’t give Thinking in Bets – Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts the time of day because Duke wrote the book. That’s unfortunate, because those people are missing out on what is actually an educational experience in learning how to use their brains more effectively. Just don’t be fooled into the statement from Duke that it isn’t a “poker book” – it’s just a book that applies equally to business as well as the game of poker, with A LOT of poker talk to emphasize her points.

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2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1B: Uri Kadosh Maintains Overall Lead, Record Field for Event

 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1B: Uri Kadosh Maintains Overall Lead, Record Field for Event

The opening salvos have been fired in the 2018 World Poker Tour Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown and the shots have been spectacular. The numbers for the two-Day Ones have set a record for the tournament and, while former WPT champion Eric Afriat took the Day 1B chip lead honors, it is Day 1A leader Udi Kadosh who will have the overall lead heading to Sunday’s Day 2 action.

After 646 entries were received for Day 1A, the masses gathered for Day 1B were ready to smash that figure. Coming out of the gate it was a bit slow as only 169 players were in their chairs when the cards hit the air, but there was quality to the early risers (the tournament started at 11AM). Former WPT champions Darren Elias, Brian Altman, Andy Frankenberger, Jonathan Little (also in on Day 1A) and Afriat were the brightest stars in the Hard Rock tournament arena, joined by Mike Dentale, Ari Engel, Matt Stout, Ankush Mandavia and Joe Elpayaa. With late registration going on until the end of Level 9, however, it would be quite some time before the final figures were in.

Frankenberger had some difficulties coming out of gate as some of the local talent brought the action to him. Cut down to a short stack, Frankenberger found himself in a three-way hand with a Q-J-4-6 two-club flop and turn up for the players to ponder. After a small blind bet and the second player’s call, Frankenberger decided that he didn’t want to mess around anymore, moving his remaining 10K in chips (players started with 30K; this was slightly more than an hour into the day’s play) to the center. His two combatants quickly got out of the way and Frankenberger scooped the approximately 17K pot.

After that first hour, the Seminole Indian tribe also breathed a sigh of relief. The 938-entry mark was passed in that first hour, meeting the $ 3 million guarantee that they had placed on the tournament. After the recent tournament which suffered from a great deal of controversy after the casino took some unusual steps to try to meet their guarantee, the Seminoles were obviously pleased that they wouldn’t be on the hook for any money and the only question now was how high it would go.

If there is one way to explain the difficulties (some would say unfairness) of the unlimited re-entry format, Chance Kornuth would be that example. Only a couple of hours into the Day 1B action, Kornuth ran his pocket treys into Robert Chusid’s Big Slick and got his chips to the center, only to see the board counterfeit him when it ran out 6-5-5-6-J to give Chusid the hand and knock Kornuth out. Undaunted, Kornuth reached back into his wallet for another $ 3500 and, by the beginning of Level 5, had worked his way into the Top Five. Would Kornuth have made the same play if it were a freezeout event?

As the dinner break came, the numbers were staggering. 549 entries were in the books, bringing the total number of entries to 1195 with four levels left in the day’s action. As players looked at the tournament clock, there were murmurings that the final figures could break last year’s record numbers, when 1207 entries were received, and that the prize pool could eclipse the $ 4 million mark.

After the end of Level 9, the players got their answers. With 663 entries on Day 1B, the total field for the 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown totaled 1309 entries, the fifth largest event in WPT history (and breaking last year’s record for the event. The $ 4,188,800 prize pool will be carved up by the final 164 players, with the eventual champion walking off with the lion’s share of that pool ($ 696,740).

Perhaps the most stunning thing about the day’s play (other than the massive number of entries) was Afriat’s efforts. After the dinner break, Afriat needed to quadruple up to reach 14,500 chips (that’s not a misprint, folks), but he kept his foot on the gas from there. In the span of one level, Afriat went from “losing every hand for seven hours” (his words, as quoted by the WPT live updates team) to winning everything he touched, building a stack that towered over his tablemates and eventually giving him the Day 1B chip lead.

1. Eric Afriat, 222,500
2. Andrew Wilmot, 218,900
3. Ryan Olisar, 214,600
4. Mark Cole, 207,000
5. Joel Brink, 205,000
6. Joseph Skarzynski, 195,900
7. Andre Crooks, 191,100
8. Raul Lozano, 173,500
9. Juan Martinez, 164,000
10. Aaron Mermelstein, 162,500

Combined with the Day 1A participants, not only will Kadosh hold the overall lead in the tournament heading to Day 2, the top three from Day 1A will be at the helm:

1. Uri Kadosh, 245,500*
2. Robert Transue, 239,500*
3. Nguyet Dao, 237,300*
4. Eric Afriat, 222,500
5. Paul Snead, 220,000*
6. Andrew Wilmot, 218,900
7. Ryan Olisar, 214,600
8. Mark Cole, 207,000
9. Joel Brink, 205,000
10. Joseph Skarzynski, 195,900

(* – Day 1A players)

From the 1309-entry field, there will be a total of 480 players who will return for action on Sunday morning. It is possible that they will reach the money bubble on Sunday, but a better bet might be Monday for the popping of said bubble. With the massive field for this tournament, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the state of Florida and the World Poker Tour have shown that the much talked about “death” of the big-field poker tournaments have been, as in the words of Mark Twain, “greatly exaggerated.”

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Women in Poker Hall of Fame Voting – One Writer’s Opinion

 Women in Poker Hall of Fame Voting – One Writer’s Opinion

After a month of nominations from the poker community and a couple of weeks of review by the Nomination Committee, the Women in Poker Hall of Fame has put together an outstanding list of nominees for induction this year. The 11 nominees run the gamut of the poker world, from working behind the scenes as important cogs in the machine to being some of the most visible performers on the grandest stages. Unfortunately (at least at this point), they cannot all go in, with the responsibilities of selecting the inductees on a select panel of past inductees and media members – including this writer’s opinion.

Having a vote on anything as important as a Hall of Fame is a badge of honor. In essence, you are structuring how the history of (in this case) women in poker will be remembered. It is something that should not be taken lightly and, as such, I’ve been studying the nominees extensively to determine how my votes would be distributed.

As pointed out by my friend and colleague Dan Katz last week (who deserves a vote here also – we’ll work on that for 2020, Dan!), each of the panelists on the WiPHoF panel have ten votes they can hand out. They can give them all to one person or break them up however they would like (no, Dan, I won’t give each nominee a vote – that WOULD be wishy-washy!). With these criteria in mind, I set back to learn about the nominees (in alphabetical order):

Hermance Blum
Mandy Glogow
Haley Hintze
Angelica Hael
Maria Ho
Karina Jett
Terry King
Shirley Rosario
Kara Scott
Lupe Soto
Jennifer Tilley

As you can see from the list, this is not an easy decision. Any of these ladies would be a fine addition to sit beside such legends of the game as Barbara Enright, Jennifer Harman, Linda Johnson or Cyndy Violette (and that’s just a short list). But the voter must do the unfortunate task – choose the inductees – and I’ve decided to look at my votes in the following manner.

Hermance Blum, Mandy Glogow and Angelica Hael – These ladies have been instrumental in bringing poker “to the people” with their work behind the scenes on the World Poker Tour and with PokerStars. But all three of these women are young and, in this writer’s opinion, they haven’t yet achieved their “pinnacle of greatness.” I see these three women at some time making their way into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame, just not in this year’s election.

Maria Ho and Kara Scott – Once again, we have two great professional poker players who are still in the midst of their highly successful careers. To say that either Ho or Scott have achieved all they will ever achieve in the world of poker (and let’s be clear here – this isn’t a slight to these women, just as it isn’t a slight to those ladies who are further down this list that have a bit more “experience” on their resumes) is doubting their skills and experience in the game. Once again, I see these two women definitely making the Hall, just not this year.

Lupe Soto and Jennifer Tilly – I will make this statement here and now – I believe that these two women will be inducted this year. Soto has been one of the biggest advocates for women in the game of poker that you will ever find. Tilly brought attention to the women’s game with her World Series of Poker Ladies’ Tournament championship back in 2005. But I am not voting for them; as what I view as the “frontrunners” for induction, they’re not going to need my vote. Not that I would be ashamed for voting for either of these ladies, I believe there are other potential inductees on this list that need my vote a bit more.

With this process of elimination, we have the four women who will receive my votes for induction. Longevity is an important part of my selection process, as is having made a significant mark on the game. In my humble opinion, these women have.

Haley Hintze – Hintze has been around the game of poker as a journalist as long as this writer has, and we’ve often trod the same ground in working for the same outlets. While she has made an outstanding career writing about the players and the “entertaining aspects” of the game, Hintze was instrumental in bringing information to the players regarding the Absolute Poker/UB “Superuser” scandals of the mid-2000s. Without Hintze’s work, there is plenty that probably would have never come to light regarding that sordid time in the industry; she deserves recognition for that effort, even if she’s not as active today as she used to be (2 votes).

Karina Jett – Jett has been a part of the professional poker scene for almost two decades, demonstrating her skills in the game on a variety of stages. She has earned almost $ 500,000 in tournament cashes over the past 20 years, including four trips to the WSOP Ladies’ Championship final table with a runner up finish in 2011. Jett has also shown the philanthropic side of the poker industry, serving as the hostess and organizer for the popular Ante Up for Autism charity event (3 votes).

Terry King – Not known perhaps to the “general” poker community, King has a long history in the game. A 1978 WSOP bracelet winner, King played in cash games throughout the 1970s, battling against the biggest players in the game, most if not all of them male. While her playing exploits might have been enough to get her in the Hall, King has also served as a dealer (first woman to deal the Championship Event of the WSOP), a floorperson and a tournament organizer and helped open the Hollywood Park Casino in its heyday. She is a wealth of knowledge as to the history of poker, something that is the base reason for honoring someone in the Hall – to preserve the history (2 points).

Shirley Rosario – The number of hats that Rosario has worn in the poker world would fill any closet. A former proposition player at the Bicycle Casino, Rosario parlayed that into a successful cash game career and built an excellent tournament poker resume. In her career, Rosario has earned $ 506,484, mostly built around the difficult mixed game and non-Texas Hold’em disciplines of poker.

It is arguable, however, that Rosario’s work outside the poker room is more notable. In the past two decades plus, Rosario created the website Poker-Babes.com that was THE place to go for information on players from 2004 to 2011. A breast cancer survivor, Rosario also was a part of the PokerStars family, helping the company to write their search engine optimization guidelines as the site became the biggest online poker site in the world. Add in the fact she was one of the original hosts of Live at the Bike and she’s basically covered every base you can hit in the poker world (3 votes).

So, there you have it, this writer’s selections for the 2018 Women in Poker Hall of Fame induction class – Haley Hintze, Karina Jett, Terry King and Shirley Rosario. While I would like to see all four ladies get in this year, as I stated previously I believe that Soto and Tilly are all but a lock (thus, I am looking forward to the vote again in 2020, when Betty Carey finally gets a nod!). But we will see who the 2018 inductees will be when the voting closes on April 15 and the official inductees are announced.

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2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1A: Massive First Day Crowd Promises for Huge Field

 2018 WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown Day 1A: Massive First Day Crowd Promises for Huge Field

On Friday in the cavernous tournament arena at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL, Day 1A of the World Poker Tour’s Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown took place. The massive outpouring of players for the first day of action promises that there will be a huge field for the tournament and that the guaranteed prize pool of $ 3 million will be shattered.

With the $ 3 million guaranteed prize pool, that meant that the $ 3500 buy in tournament had to rack up roughly 895 players (taking out the juice) for the Seminole Indians not to be on the hook for the difference. To help reach that mark, there were two Day Ones scheduled and players could re-enter the tournament as many times as they liked up until the start of Level 9. From the start, however, it seemed the players were amped for the event, regardless of what the guarantee was.

When the players came together for the “shuffle up and deal” call on Friday morning, nearly 200 players were already in their seats. The tables in the new Seminole Hard Rock tournament arena rapidly filled from that point, reaching 387 entries by the start of Level 3 and passing the 500 mark (504) to start Level 5. By the time the end of late registration for Day 1A reached a close, 646 entries were in the books, essentially guaranteeing that the Seminoles wouldn’t be reaching in their pockets for any overlay for the tournament by Saturday night.  

With such a large field on Day 1A, you might have thought that it was a softer field. Nothing was further from the truth as, from the start of the day, such notable names as former WPT champions Joe Ebanks, Darren Elias and Jonathan Little were on the felt, joined by Cliff Josephy, Blake Bohn, Neil Blumenfield and the defending champion of this tournament, Tony Sinishtaj. As the day wore on, they were joined by such figures as former World Champion Joseph McKeehen, WPT champions Tony Dunst and Olivier Busquet, Joseph Cheong and Shankar Pillai.

With the players from Day 1A knowing they still had a chance to come back on Day 1B to try to build a stack, play was rather active. Halfway through the day, six players had amassed stacks of more than 100K chips (after starting with 30K) and that number only went up as the evening hours began. By the dinner break, eight members of the field were counted over the magical 100K mark, with Robert Transue over 200K (204,300). By the end of the night, however, there was a new “sheriff” in town, Uri Kadosh, who had assumed the lead.

1. Uri Kadosh, 245,500
2. Robert Transue, 239,500
3. Nguyet Dao, 237,300
4. Paul Snead, 220,000
5. Matt Glantz, 191,500
6. Joseph McKeehen, 187,700
7. John Gordon, 187,500
8. Zachary Smiley, 170,400
9. Brian Hastings, 166,400
10. Joseph Gotlieb, 164,900

Lurking under the Top Ten are such notable names as Scott Clements (158,300 chips), Art Papazyan (156,200), Curt Kohlberg (142,600) and Jeff Gross (142,500). Of the 646 entries received on Day 1A, 227 players will come back for action on Sunday.

When Day 1B begins bright and early at 11AM on Saturday morning, expect a stampede of players to come to the tournament arena. It is likely that the opening bell for Day 1B will have enough players to crack the guarantee and the numbers should soar past 1000 players by the time registration closes. It isn’t out of question to believe that the final numbers will be bigger than last year’s field, which received 1207 entries by the time registration was closed. If it were to do this, the prize pool would easily be over $ 3.25 million and make for another successful stop for the WPT and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

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