Thursday , February 03 , 2011
Every week in 2011, various CardRunners Pros conduct a roundtable discussion with CardRunners Brand Manager Alex Huang about some of poker’s hottest topics. Read their candid views and join the discussion in the thread at this link.
Alex Huang, CardRunners Brand Manager: The Isildur1 Superstar Showdown on PokerStars has been piquing a lot of interest among the railbirds. What are your thoughts of these 2,500 hand challenges?
Andrew Wiggins, CardRunners Co-Founder: I think they are a novelty. Nothing can be decided in 2,500 hands, but it's cool that they are getting action for Isildur. It's always fun to watch him battle it out HU
Nicolak, CardRunners MSNL and HSNL Pro: I think they're good publicity for PokerStars, which is why they brought in Isildur. The railbirds enjoy watching them, but like Andrew said, the sample size is too small to really determine who is the better HU player.
Alex Huang: Do you think some of his mystique or intrigue will wear off now that he has been identified as Viktor Blom and not some kid hiding behind a computer monitor?
Andrew Wiggins: No not at all. I think everyone assumed it was him all along anyway. He's still a maniac HU player and that’s the intrigue for me
Nicolak: I think so. There was that big aura and suspense of who is the person behind Isildur for awhile
iRock, CardRunners MSNL and HSNL Pro: I don't think so. I think he was already pretty much known to be Blom before the unveiling. His appeal is based on his fearlessness and his swings of fortune. People either root for him or against him and either way they want to watch him.
Nicolak: Personally I thought it was cool when nobody really knew who he was, before word got out it was Blom...because people were speculating it could be anybody
Alex Huang: If you guys could have your pick... who would be your top choice as his next challenger in his Showdown?
Nicolak: Hellmuth! I think that would be classic..1 guy that is really good, and 1 guy that thinks he's really good
Andrew Wiggins: I know Stinger has been playing him, but I don't think it's been an official challenge. Anyway, it's gotta be Stinger for me due to all of their heated history
iRock: Yea the speculation part kind of reminded me of the old days of online poker. No one knew which TV pro was which, so everyone would throw out guesses. I think at one point every screen name I played was supposedly Ben Affleck.
Andrew Wiggins: Dude Ben Affleck was every name on UB
Nicolak: lol Ben Affleck
Alex Huang: He was always assumed to be Tryangle on FTP right? Why doesn't Tobey Maguire get any love?
Nicolak: He actually won a tournament in LA for $70k or so when he was playing poker..Spidey that is
Andrew Wiggins: The best is Don Cheadle. I get to battle it out with him at $109 SNGs and $1/2 RUSH! He stacked me the last time we played
Alex Huang: Speaking of Stinger.. he's playing Viktor right now. I guess he can be excused from joining the chat!
iRock: No Don can't hold a candle to Mekhi Pheifer. Who plays rush?
Alex Huang: I’ve gotten stacked by Hal Lubarsky... who is blind
iRock: If I was Hal Lubarsky I would make some clever nickname off of it to be more recognized if I was going that route of sponsorship, something like Hal "The Big Blind" Lubarsky
Alex Huang: You guys have all had experiences with 10k buy-in events. How do you feel about the emergence of a growing number of 100K or 250k (Aussie Millions) high-roller events?
iRock: I think they are pretty silly. The people who play in them are either enormously rich outside of poker or sponsored. They paid some, or all of, their buy in through a site and not out of their own pocket.
Nicolak: The only thing I want to say about those is that they shouldn't be counted towards MTT Player of the Year standings since it's unrealistic for most, even tournament grinders that are backed, to play those.
Andrew Wiggins: I'm personally offended by it when there are starving kids in China
iRock: The appeal of poker tournaments and why they got so popular was because they saw an average guy, Chris Moneymaker, go from his normal job to WSOP Champion and 2 million dollars. They could identify with him. No one is watching that and identifying with any of the players so they lose interest, except maybe Wiggins. His lifestyle is all-inclusive.
Andrew Wiggins: Can I amend that to say Detroit? F--- China
Alex Huang: Happy Chinese New Year to you too!
Andrew Wiggins: One huge issue with the typical poker tournament now is that no name players make the final tables anymore. It's hard for poker to maintain its popularity when viewers don't know any of the participants.
Nicolak: Plus the fields are so small that really anybody that forks over the buy-in has a chance to win one.
Andrew Wiggins: So with that in mind, these big buy-in events are probably good for the game overall.
iRock: I can't remember the last time I watched the WSOP or any other poker event on TV without knowing a friend in it to keep my interest.
Andrew Wiggins: Yea I don't watch poker on TV anymore either, but I may stop on the channel if I see Hellmuth or Ivey at the table...
Nicolak: That's the nature of tournaments though...because of the high variance, it's hard to see the same names at the Final Tables...personally I don't think it's that bad because everybody thinks they have a shot to FT
Andrew Wiggins: Well I think it's clearly bad considering that advertising for these televised MTTs has fallen off a cliff.
iRock: That has to do more with the UIGEA than anything else
Andrew Wiggins: How can you sell poker to the public as a skill game when no name players are at the FTs?
Nicolak: I haven’t really been following how televised poker has been doing..ratings up or down lately?
Alex Huang: Down for tournament poker.
Andrew Wiggins: It reminds me of the line from Rounders. Mike McDermott: Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final table of the World Series of Poker EVERY YEAR? What, are they the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?
iRock: I mean the PBA gets more sponsors than most poker tournaments
Andrew Wiggins: Look we’re approaching this from the view of the public. Obviously we understand the variance, but they don’t, and they love Rounders
iRock: If poker were given the full green light in the US, you would see all sorts of companies sponsoring it. It’s the legal ambiguity that retards its growth.
Nicolak: Yeah I agree it's bad in terms of publicity and exposure, having a bunch of no names, but personally I don't mind it.
Andrew Wiggins: FTP, PS, etc they are all advertising on ESPN and other channels. The UIGEA is not stopping them from advertising on TV
iRock: No, I’m talking out of industry sponsors. No one is going to go near it because it has a public perception of being illegal.
Andrew Wiggins: Are you trying to argue the ratings would not be higher if Hellmuth and Ivey were at the FT?
iRock: I think they would, but you can't control that part. You have to focus on what you can control. The moment you start trying to skew it to get better people on then it loses its whole appeal.
Andrew Wiggins: Well you can control it in the sense that you can get huge prize pools with all big name guys when you run a tourney that has a 250k buy-in. I totally agree that these tourneys are silly, but I do think they're good and necessary for the game
Alex Huang: Yeah it ensures some big name players playing for millions
Nicolak: They are actually trying to do something to get the public interested with this new Annie Duke poker league.
iRock: No one cares about Annie Duke though.
Andrew Wiggins: Annie Duke business history is checkered at best. The success of that venture is far from guaranteed.
Nicolak: I'm just saying, they have this league where they picked out 200 "famous" poker players to play in tournaments...personally I think it's stupid and Duke sucks as well.
Andrew Wiggins: They already tried that with the WPT
iRock: The PPT
Andrew Wiggins: And it was a big failure
Nicolak: Yeah I remember that as well
Andrew Wiggins: And that was when the WPT was rolling and poker on TV was rolling.
iRock: No one cared about that because Chris Bigler somehow made every final table
Andrew Wiggins: CHRIS BIGLER!!!! Biggest nit ever.
iRock: He looked like the fat guy from Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers in human form
Nicolak: He really is a nit, I remember playing with him a couple of times
Alex Huang: Well the Aussie Millions High-Roller event seemed to have a few more 'whales' in compared to the PCA... which leads us to the next question about high stakes games in Vegas -- are they dead and is Macau the place for the future big games?
Andrew Wiggins: - Macau is probably the place for the biggest games going forward
iRock: That’s because Macau is outside the borders of civilization. An anything goes situation
Andrew Wiggins: You need rich business men to feed the games and the sad truth is that Asia's economy is simply in much better shape than ours and you couple that with the fact that Asians love to gamble, you have a winning formula
Nicolak: I agree...the Asian market is untapped and lots of rich guys with too much money will probably want to play high stakes games, and if the games are around the corner they'll come
Alex Huang: Have you noticed a decline in live games in Vegas?
Nicolak: Not at stakes up to 25/50 but if we're talking nosebleeds, yeah. Bobby's room at Bellagio never has a game going anymore. The highest game they have going is the 200/400 mix game at Aria, or Ivey's room.
Andrew Wiggins: Wow
iRock: Wow that’s not really big at all.
Nicolak: They used to have 1k/2k + going in Bellagio's room but that died with the guys that play in it being at Macau.
iRock: Well with the influx of the internet, and the fact that being in a casino is draining, I don't blame them for moving to other avenues.
Andrew Wiggins: I played in a juicy 1/2nl game at Aria last week
iRock: Juicy 1/2nl game = Andrew Wiggins in it
Andrew Wiggins: Who are the guys that really get the games to run?
Nicolak: Ivey was the game starter, but he is in Macau.
Alex Huang: I would imagine Ivey, Eli, Antonius, Benyamine, and Dwan.
Nicolak: Doyle but he's having health problems, and Harman, but she won't play strictly NL like they're doing in Macau.
iRock: It doesn't sound like the guys in the Macau games are interested in any sort of limit bet games.
Andrew Wiggins: What’s running in Macau?
Nicolak: I actually know the Bobby's room head manager and he told me Durrrr and Ivey were cleaning up in Macau, but everybody knew that. He told me they would play these rich guys HU at $1k/$2k NL USD HU, and sometimes higher.
Alex Huang: I believe their peak was $10k/$20k HKD, and 7 HKD = USD
Nicolak: So why wouldn't they be over there playing high stakes versus whales who have no shot over the long run? Booking my next flight to Macau...maybe I can run up a few dimes to 5 mirrion
iRock: Macau is a wild place. Definitely don't go alone
Andrew Wiggins: People split 10s in blackjack like it ain’t no thang.
Nicolak: Asians love to gamble, what can I say. Alex and I know :)
Alex Huang: Hey, I hit a slot jackpot a few weeks ago!
Andrew Wiggins: The fact that you regularly play slots says it all Alex. I played slots once in my life. I was 17 and in Vegas with my family and that’s all I could get away with playing
iRock: I used to play video poker when I was 17
Andrew Wiggins: The damn nickle slots
Nicolak: I love how they have "Beat slot machine" DVDs
Alex Huang: I'm making a CR Video on Beating slots…stay tuned
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