Posts Tagged ‘WSOP’

Ratings Mixed for 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table Coverage

 Ratings Mixed for 2017 WSOP Championship Event Final Table Coverage

Ratings for the live coverage of the 2017 World Series of Poker Championship Event final table have been released, with those results showing a mixed bag of information.

The WSOP Championship Event final table, broadcast live over ESPN from July 20-22, showed a slight improvement in comparison to the delayed “November Nine” coverage from 2016. The three-day average of the 2017 coverage was 615,000 viewers, a slight increase in comparison to last year’s “November Nine” final table average of 597,000 viewers, a 3% increase. For the broadcast week, the WSOP Championship Event’s third night – when Scott Blumstein closed the deal in winning the championship – was one of the highest rated programs for ESPN, finishing behind only a mid-season Major League Baseball game between the rival St. Louis Cardinals and the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and the Summer League championship game between the Los Angeles Lakers (minus top draft pick Lonzo Ball, who sat the game out) and the Portland Trail Blazers.

That was the good side of the equation for officials, however.

On the negative side, the all-important 18-49 demographic – the demo that advertisers look at when determining what shows to advertise on and that broadcasters strive to reach for that reason – was down overall in year-to-year statistics. In 2017, the WSOP Championship Event final table captured 244,000 in that 18-49 demo, down from the 256,000 that viewed the tournament in 2016 (a drop of almost 5%). The viewers for the final night of the tournament were also at historic lows, with the 741,000 watchers down from 780,000 who watched in 2016 and barely more than the 735,000 who watched in 2012, the record low for the tournament in the last decade.

The television numbers aren’t the only worrisome sign for WSOP and ESPN officials.

The demographic breakdown of the WSOP Championship Event field shows signs that cannot be encouraging for Caesars. Of the 7221 players participating in this year’s tournament, only 347 of them were in the 21-25 demographic and only ONE of those players was a woman. In comparison, there were 884 players older than 56 in the Championship Event field, with 33 of those players being female. These numbers indicate that the oldest demographic in the tournament isn’t being replaced at the same rate from the younger side.

There could be a couple of reasons for the demographic numbers. The “millennials” that constitute the 21-30 demographic have been proving to be a difficult market for casinos to get in the first place. They aren’t as willing to “gamble” as other demographics are, preferring a skill based game over ones of “chance,” hence the casinos usage of video games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush for wagering purposes. That predisposition for skill based games over chance isn’t showing when it comes to poker, however, at least as far as the WSOP Championship Event.

It is also arguable that the lack of online poker in the States of America has caused a downswing. The younger demographic for years has been driven by the online game (look at the almost 3000 players making up the 26-35 demographic that participated in the WSOP Championship Event). If that were the case, however, it would not explain the 7221 overall players that participated in 2017, the largest field since 2010.

The move by officials from cable broadcasting giant ESPN and the World Series of Poker to do away with the “November Nine” was a huge step in that neither entity knew what would be the eventual outcome. At its inception, the “November Nine” was a huge success as it drew in an audience of 2.364 million for the final table broadcast in 2008 (the first year of the format). It never would draw that well again, gradually falling to the record low in 2012 (735,000), rebounding over the next three years back over a million viewers and falling to 780K in 2016. Thus, the 741,000 that watched in 2017 wasn’t the upswing that the WSOP nor ESPN were looking for.

The other possibility is that there just aren’t the “eyes” that are going to be watching during the season. Summer is the worst time of the year for television viewing and, while bringing the poker world to Las Vegas during what is its “down time” of the year might be a good idea for Caesars officials, when it comes to broadcasting the tournament it might not be the best thing.

The mixed numbers present several challenges for ESPN and the WSOP. While there are some bright areas, there are those that aren’t quite so sunny for either entity. Of importance for both organizations may be improving the television numbers in the immediate future.

Poker News Daily

So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

 So How Did the Crystal Ball Do on the WSOP Championship Event?

We’ve had almost a week to digest what was one of the better World Series of Poker Championship Event final tables in recent memory. While it was a wire to wire win for Scott Blumstein, it was still entertaining watching the nine men play it out. It was also great to see them play it out with only a slight delay of two days instead of the three months that the “November Nine” inflicted on the players and the fans – it made for a much better tournament.

But there’s one thing left over from the WSOP Championship Event final table. Just how did the Poker News Daily “Crystal Ball” do in predicting the finishing order of the players? Overall, not too shabby – the Ball got a couple of the spots right and was a bit off on others. Then there’s a couple of players…

Without further ado, let’s review the actual finishing order and look at what the Crystal Ball said.

Ninth Place:  Ben Lamb (Prediction:  Damian Salas)

Coming in on the short stack on Thursday night, Lamb was already facing a difficult climb. But for him to go out on the fourth hand of action was a bit stunning. There are several that argue that he was making the optimum move by moving all in for 18.9 million chips after Jack Sinclair raised off the button. In theory, it is a good argument; Sinclair could have been raising with any two there and, with Lamb holding an A9 , if Sinclair had been making a move he might have pushed his cards to the muck. There are those that state, however, that Lamb didn’t have to make that move at that point (he was around 22 big blinds, not in a push mode) and it was a bit suicidal. Whatever the answer, for the former “November Niner” to depart in such a dramatic fashion – and so early into the action – was a bit surprising.

Eighth Place:  Jack Sinclair (Prediction:  Jack Sinclair)

The Crystal Ball got one right! Sinclair was seriously hurt by the facts that he couldn’t get any cards to work with and dealing with the assault from the larger stacks on his right. Sinclair got the boost from the knockout of Lamb, but there wasn’t much else that he could do after that.

Seventh Place:  Damian Salas (Prediction:  Ben Lamb)

OK, the Crystal Ball just got seventh and ninth places backwards! Salas hung on for much longer than many thought he could and, when he was knocked out, it was in a brutal fashion. After Dan Ott hit his gut shot straight draw on the river to top Salas’ flopped pair of Aces, you could almost see the life ooze out of Salas. He played well, got his money in right and…it just wasn’t meant to be.

Sixth Place:  Bryan Piccioli (Prediction:  Dan Ott)

And here’s one where the Crystal Ball was just a bit off. Piccioli, who came into the final table with the fourth-place stack, just couldn’t get anything going on the final table baize. His chips oozed from his fingers to the point that he was forced to make a move with just an A-7 in his hands. Dan Ott woke up with pocket Kings in the big blind and, after no Ace came on the board, Piccioli’s chips were in Ott’s stack.

Fifth Place:  Antoine Saout (Prediction:  Bryan Piccioli)

Probably the Crystal Ball’s biggest miss of the final table. Saout was constantly pounded on by Blumstein throughout the first two days of final table action because Blumstein’s big stack was on Saout’s right. Repeatedly, Blumstein would put the pressure on Saout and, correctly, Saout didn’t make the call. When Saout did catch Blumstein with a bit of larceny in his heart, Blumstein hit his gut shot straight draw with his 5-3 on the turn and, after Saout made trips on the river, there was no way that Saout was going to get away. Much like Salas, Saout got the money in good and simply got outdrawn.

Fourth Place: John Hesp (Prediction:  John Hesp)

The Crystal Ball strikes again! And what a run by Hesp at the final table. There are plenty of Monday morning quarterbacks who can pick on Hesp’s call while drawing dead against Blumstein as an amateur mistake, but that was part of the charm of Hesp’s approach at the table. Now, we don’t need nine of these when tournament final tables are determined, but it isn’t such a bad thing to see someone like Hesp do well.  

Third Place:  Benjamin Pollok (Prediction:  Antoine Saout)

Other than Blumstein, it is arguable that Pollok played the best of anyone at the final table. There were some laydowns that Pollok made – especially when he had trip nines against the turned boat, nines over tens, of Blumstein – that were outstanding. It just wasn’t meant to be this time around for Pollok, who should be the owner of a WSOP bracelet sooner than later.

Second Place:  Dan Ott (Prediction:  Scott Blumstein)

Ott was the shocker of the 2017 WSOP final table. He made some good moves on the table and, when opportunity came along, Ott seized it. He was able to dispatch of Pollok in that truly stunning three-way all in to bring himself within shouting distance of Blumstein entering heads up, but that’s where the gas ran out. Still, his overall performance is something that he should be proud of.

First Place:  Scott Blumstein (Prediction:  Benjamin Pollok)

That’s not too bad. The Crystal Ball predicted Blumstein to finish second but, once he got the monster stack he did on Night One of the final table after his battle with Hesp, there was little doubt who was going to be the winner of the event. As he sits and counts the $ 8.15 million he received for winning the tournament, Blumstein can now ponder what he wants to do with his poker career.

To wrap it up, two exact hits and a few “one-off” predictions? Seems as though the Crystal Ball was in good shape this summer! Congratulations to all the men who took part and to poker’s newest World Champion, Scott Blumstein.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: Should Chris Ferguson Be Able to Accept WSOP POY Award?

 Editorial: Should Chris Ferguson Be Able to Accept WSOP POY Award?

With the close of the Las Vegas leg of the World Series of Poker last week, the WSOP Player of the Year race became a flashpoint for the poker community. While it has created a great deal of controversy over its scoring, the person who emerged on top after all the events were finished in Sin City – former World Champion and Full Tilt pariah Chris Ferguson – seemed to incite another round of outrage. That outrage was simple – should Ferguson, for his sins in the poker community, be able to accept the POY award, let alone play in the WSOP?

Let’s start with the second statement in that question first. As far as playing in a publicly available event, series or even simply a cash game, Ferguson has the right to participate.  Short of convictions for offenses such as murder, a person should be allowed to take part in the proceedings in Las Vegas. Hell, even after they might have served their punishment, those who have committed murder might be more accepted than someone who has cheated on the tables, had connections with organized crime or other egregious actions that have landed people in the “Black Book.” Besides, do we really want casinos to oxymoronically be the “morality police?”

Since we’ve established the right to play in the games, then it might be natural to assume that someone should be eligible for the rewards that come with excellent performance. In the case of the WSOP POY, the person leading the standings at the close of the Las Vegas leg would receive a €10,000 buy-in to the WSOP Europe Main Event (roughly a $ 11,500 prize, with current exchange rates). After the points were calculated from the 71 tournaments that comprised this year’s schedule, Ferguson had emerged as the points leader (898.46), eking out the top slot over Ryan Hughes (876.35) and John Monnette (865.21).

With Ferguson set to receive the rewards for his play this summer (and let’s put it this way – any system where a two-time bracelet winner over the span of the WSOP such as David Bach only gets enough points to be in 70th PLACE needs to be revamped), the outrage from the poker community was adamant. Because of Ferguson’s involvement in the Full Tilt Poker scandal – in which the company did not segregate player funds from business funds (causing the eventual collapse of the company) AND the “Black Friday” actions of fraudulently accepting gaming transactions and billing them as other things such as “office supplies” or “golf equipment” – arguably most people believe that Ferguson should not receive the award or the prizes involved with it. Much of that comes from how Ferguson conducted himself following the actions of “Black Friday.”

When the indictments of April 2011 came down, much of the online poker world scurried to figure out what to do (the one exception? PokerStars, but that’s a discussion for another time). Not only was Full Tilt Poker attempting to save its business, the CEREUS Network rooms of UB.com and Absolute Poker were under siege, too. When the Department of Justice allowed the rooms to open to remit bankrolls to players, only PokerStars stepped up; the others mentioned could not give the players money back because…they didn’t have it.

Issues would get worse for Full Tilt, with Ferguson in a position of knowledge about the company, as 2011 wore on. September 2011 would bring the revocation of the site’s license by gaming authorities and, as a result, the company went under. But it was Ferguson’s lack of concern regarding the shutdown and eventual closure – he didn’t say a word, he just slinked away with millions in his pockets – that riled the senses of those who had been aggrieved. His return last year to the WSOP (alongside Howard Lederer) only rubbed salt in the wounds.

This is the problem for many – Ferguson (whom I once held in quite high esteem) and all the rest HAD to know what they were doing was wrong. If they weren’t knowledgeable about the workings of their company – the one they all joined in to create – then that is mismanagement of the highest order and that includes fraud. That they got away with paying a bit of money (OK, a LOT of money in some cases) and weren’t adequately punished for their transgressions doesn’t sit well with many.

There are people that literally lost their lives over the decisions of these people in particular and Full Tilt Poker as a whole. Some lost tens of thousands of dollars, even after “everyone” was “made whole.” And even for the people who were paid…we lost our belief in the people that created this company “for the players.” We lost our belief in that they were honorable. And we lost our belief in the honor of the game of poker, that you do what’s right, no matter what. Quick question…where do you think the Full Tilt Poker remittance would be if it hadn’t been for PokerStars?

Why are people like Mike Matusow, recent Poker Hall of Fame inductee Phil Ivey, and others who were an alleged part of “Team Full Tilt” given a pass? That’s an outstanding question. But the ones that we know had knowledge of what occurred – Ray Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson, perhaps some others – still have never adequately explained why they did it nor (and especially in Ferguson’s case) offered their mea culpas to a satisfactory point. And that is why people still have a problem with them at the WSOP or any other tournament location and why people are having issues with Ferguson taking anything regarding the POY.

The poker world may be getting itself in a snit over nothing – it isn’t known whether Ferguson has accepted the seat and will travel to King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, come October anyway to participate in the WSOP Europe Main Event. He hasn’t participated in a tournament outside of the WSOP since “Black Friday,” meaning that he does see that he is persona non-grata for the most part in the poker world. The very fact that he might not go to the WSOP Europe is enough that, over the span of those 11 events, another person would pass Ferguson for the championship and make all this hand wringing for naught.

Poker News Daily

Scott Blumstein Had Backers for 2017 WSOP Main Event

 Scott Blumstein Had Backers for 2017 WSOP Main Event

You know what might* be cooler than winning a bunch of money playing in the World Series of Poker? Winning a bunch of money at the World Series of Poker without the difficulty of actually playing poker. That was the case for several people over the weekend, as a number of Scott Blumfield’s buddies rode the rail of their lives, having invested in the WSOP Main Event champ’s buy-in and, in turn, receiving a share of his winnings.

It is not uncommon for a poker player to have “backers” in a big buy-in tournament, as the costs can be difficult to handle. By taking on investors who pay a portion of the buy-in for a proportional share of the prize, a player can better afford to participate, even if he or she limits the earnings potential.

Blumstein has not made public all of his financial arrangements with backers, but we now know that he did not have “all of himself,” as the poker lingo goes, in the 2017 WSOP Main Event. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, four of Blumstein’s friends from New Jersey posted some of his $ 10,000 buy-in, though in the grand scheme of things, their contribution wasn’t much.

Peter Gerolamo, Aldo Boscia, John Scuter, and Nick Muldrow each gave Blumstein $ 60. When he won $ 8.15 million before taxes, their investment had grown to $ 40,750 each (technically, the 0.6% that each contributed should have earned them $ 48,900 before taxes, but their deal with Blumstein may not have been for winnings in exact proportion to their percentage of the buy-in, which is normal).

Boscia said that Blumstein could certainly swing the $ 240 that his four friends pitched-in, but he was all for it for the fun.

“He wanted us to sweat it out with him,” Boscia told Rovell.

“The truth is that a bunch of guys who had small stakes in me helped me the most at the end, when I needed support, when I needed to be driven places,” Blumstein added. “I can say pretty confidently that without their support, I might not have won it all.”

Watching the final table progress on ESPN, it was evident that Blumstein – who couldn’t seem like a nicer guy – really drew energy from his friends and family, who flew in to support him when he made the final table.

Those four guys weren’t the only ones who had a piece of Blumstein.

“My dad sold a half a percent to the owner of a bagel shop,” Blumstein revealed to Rovell. “A friend of my grandfather’s, who is 93 and plays poker, had 2 percent.”

This would also imply that Blumstein’s dad had a piece, considering he “sold” half a percent ($ 50) to someone.

Blumstein did actively seek out investors, posting his request on Twitter in June. Nobody took him up on that specific offer, but ESPN says Blumstein did find a backer for the piece he was looking to sell.

Poker pro Asher Conniff also backed Blumstein, paying $ 420 of his buy-in for three percent of his winnings ($ 244,500).

Conniff was thoroughly impressed with Blumstein’s performance in his first-ever WSOP Main Event (can you believe it?), saying, “No one is prepared for the amount of pressure that comes with the final table. Some of the moves he made proved he had the balls of a champion.”

*Let me emphasize “might” here.

Cover photo credit: WSOP.com

Poker News Daily

Scott Blumstein Dominates En Route to 2017 WSOP Championship Event Victory

 Scott Blumstein Dominates En Route to 2017 WSOP Championship Event Victory

Going wire-to-wire without seemingly breaking a sweat, New Jersey poker player Scott Blumstein rode his final table chip lead all the way to the end in capturing poker’s World Championship with his 2017 WSOP Championship Event victory.

Blumstein not only came to the final table back on Thursday with the chip lead, he pretty much didn’t have any problem reaching the final three with a dominant lead. His 226.45 million chip stack represented about two-thirds of the chips in play and completely dwarfed the stacks of his opponents. Dan Ott (88.375 million) and Benjamin Pollak (45.85 million) faced the nearly impossible task of taking on the behemoth that was Blumstein but, from the start, it was obvious that Blumstein wasn’t going to give them the chance.

Ott tried to mount an offensive to go against Blumstein as he blasted past the 120 million chip plateau within the first five hands of play, but Blumstein immediately took the wind out of his sails on Hand 146 when he bluffed Ott off a hand and sent him back under 100 million. This was Blumstein’s method of attack throughout the three-way action – play many of the hands, push when the situation looked good for him and get away from the hands when it wasn’t in his favor. Blumstein’s instincts were dead on throughout the night when it came to this strategy implementation.

Ott and Pollak would jostle back and forth in an attempt to determine who would take on Blumstein for the title, but all it would succeed in doing is extending Blumstein’s lead. After Hand 180, Blumstein’s 285.17 million in chips was crushing the duo of Ott (46.2 million) and Pollak (35.6 million) handily. Then came the hand of the tournament, one in which the tournament was almost ended in a historic fashion.

On Hand 181, Pollak moved his short stack to the center and Ott, after a moment of pondering, decided to move all in “over the top” of Pollak’s bet. Blumstein, who could have just let the twosome fight it out, instead asked for a count and, after getting Ott’s exact figures, called the bet to set up a three-way all-in situation:

Pollak:  Q-10
Ott:  K-9
Blumstein:  A-Q

Blumstein’s Big Chick was ahead pre-flop, but the situation would completely change once the K-J-3 flop hit the felt. Ott went to the lead, but it was a tenuous one as an Ace or a nine would give Pollak a straight and a ten would give Blumstein Broadway. With Pollak looking for a triple up to stay alive in the tournament, the turn four and river six missed everyone, giving the monstrous 128 million chip pot to Ott and knocking Pollak out in third place.

Although Ott now had a stack of chips, Blumstein’s 232.575 million was still in a dominant position as the heads-up match began. Still, only one double for Ott could change the complexion of the tournament. Alas, Blumstein didn’t allow that to happen.

It would take an agonizingly long 3½ for Blumstein to complete what many thought was a foregone conclusion, a nod to the excellent play of Ott in trying to make a comeback. The relentless pressure and knowledge that just one mistake could end his tournament finally began to catch up with Ott, however. Still, there was some great drama when the final hand came to be.

On Hand 246, Blumstein would limp in but, after Ott fired a raise across his bow, Blumstein responded with an all-in shot back towards Ott. After a great deal of contemplation, Ott would make the call and find himself in the lead with his A-8 over Blumstein’s A-2. A J-6-5-7 flop and turn left Ott as a huge favorite to win the hand (93.1%, to be exact), but just as Ott was prepping his mind for another assault on Blumstein, the poker gods spoke; one of the only three outs that would give Blumstein the hand – a deuce – came on the river to pair his hand, sending the pot and the World Championship to Scott Blumstein.

1. Scott Blumstein, $ 8.15 million
2. Dan Ott, $ 4.7 million
3. Benjamin Pollak, $ 3.5 million
4. John Hesp, $ 2.6 million
5. Antoine Saout, $ 2 million
6. Bryan Piccioli, $ 1.675 million
7. Damian Salas, $ 1.425 million
8. Jack Sinclair, $ 1.2 million
9. Ben Lamb, $ 1 million

With that, the book is closed on the 2017 World Series of Poker – at least the Las Vegas segment of the trip. Beginning October 19, the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe begins at the King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, with 11 more bracelet events at hand. That isn’t something that Scott Blumstein is considering right now…he’s more interested celebrating the fact that he is poker’s newest World Champion.

Poker News Daily



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