Funeral for a Friend
I skipped the $1,500 pot-limit event to go to a memorial service for Richie Klamian, a long-time Las Vegas sports bettor and poker player, who passed away far too young last week after a valiant battle with cancer. In attendance was a who’s who of the sports-betting community, including Billy Baxter, Billy Walters, and Jimmy Vaccarro. Richie’s formidable talent in his chosen profession was surpassed only by his goodness as a human being. Tragedies like this put a lot of things into perspective.
Seems Like Old Times
One of the issues long-time players have with the poker explosion of the past few years is the over-emphasis on no-limit hold ’em. I call no-limit "the beast that ate poker." The Bellagio phased out all games except no-limit at its tournaments a few years ago and many others followed suit, including the WSOP, which didn’t completely eliminate the "other games," but greatly cut back on them in its tournament schedule. The fact is that pre-2003 pros didn’t particularly like no-limit and it was rarely played in cash games. The staples were limit games -- stud, stud eight-or-better, Omaha eight-or-better, and limit hold ’em, and most tournament schedules included a significant offering of events featuring these games.
This year Harrah’s, at the urging of the Players Advisory Council, has added several events featuring the other games. They were able to do this without taking away from the no-limit offerings by having two bracelet events on most days, with the second event starting at 5 pm. When I arrived to play last night’s $2,500 stud eight-or-better/Omaha eight-or-better event, it was like a reunion. Many players who had chosen to stop playing over the past few years rather than make the switch to no-limit, came out for this event. It was a pleasure to play with people I knew (not to mention who were in my age bracket).
In addition to the old-timers, there were a significant number of young guns in the field of 327. Many of the younger stars, while weaned on no-limit, want to expand their repertoire. Why? I think it’s because they have visions of reaching the top of the poker world, and the other games are the staple of the legendary "Big Game," which is the place to really make your poker chops. Holding your own with the likes of Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Phil Ivey, and other long-time superstars is the ultimate poker validation, and you must be proficient in all games to reach that pinnacle.
While I continued my run of bad luck and dead cards so far in this year’s WSOP, getting KO’d just before the end of the day’s play, I enjoyed the tournament and have arranged my schedule to include most of these other-game events.
I ran into John Strempz, runner up to Stuey Unger in the ’97 main event and CFO of Wynn. John has been on the management side of the casino business for a long time, so I asked him what he thought about the problems with the management of the event this year. His reply was that the main issue is that it’s not a year-round staple of the casino, but a once-a-year event that must be put together almost from scratch each year, usually with a new management team in place. Getting things done in a company as large as Harrah’s requires going through a lot of channels, and the people trying to do it don’t have a lot of juice to get thing approved and expedited. I can see his point and it helps some things make more sense, but there are still a lot of things that don’t. For instance:
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
One of the issues brought up by many players, including those on the Advisory Council, was the situation last year regarding the lack of visible tournament clocks. It’s important to a player to be able to readily see a clock, not only to know the time left in a level, but also to get updated information about how many players are left, the average stack, etc. When I first walked into the tournament room this year, I saw a bunch of large plasmas hanging from the ceiling and thought they might have finally gotten this right. I was wrong. The plasmas are just TV’s that show sports, or some useless information, such as previous-day’s results. There are, if anything, even fewer tournament clocks than last year, and the ones they have are at ground level where spectators and press often block them from view. Not only that, but there are usually multiple events running simultaneously, and often the clock doesn’t pertain to the event going on in that section of the room. Last night, for instance, we had no clock whatsoever for our event. The only clock was a stopwatch kept by one of the floormen. When I asked about the situation he was very apologetic; most of the guys on the floor are genuinely embarrassed about many of the things going on and are constantly apologizing to players. This can’t be good for morale, and is probably one of the reasons there’s so much turnover each year.
Young Guns 1, Old Schoolers 0
They’re not going to get much younger unless the legal age to play is changed. Steve Billirakis won the opening event and $536,000 at the age of 21 years and 10 days, setting the bar pretty high (or low). He bested "old guy" Jeff Madsen’s mark of 21 years and five weeks, set last summer.
Day off for me tomorrow. Some time on the golf course is what I need to get recharged for the coming battles, including the craziness of the $1,000 rebuy event on Tuesday.
<TABLE id=HB_Mail_Container height="100%" cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0 UNSELECTABLE="on"><TBODY><TR height="100%" width="100%" UNSELECTABLE="on"><TD id=HB_Focus_Element vAlign=top width="100%" background="" height=250 UNSELECTABLE="off">A good read as always Blair. Hope the cards get better good luck.</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
TYVM for the updates!! I wish you the best of luck and I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.. As a 25 y/o player I also love hearing about the "oldtimers" and history of the game.. Please keep the posts coming!!
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