Where Epic Poker ranks among all-time Poker Fails

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Mar 05, 2012 Posted in Epic Poker League News, Op-Ed | No Comments »

Granted, the list of poker fails is a pretty lengthy one (after all, this is the game that gave us the terms robusto and busto); you have everything from dormant online poker rooms, to one of the wildest forum posts to ever hit 2+2, to the failed idea of the Onyx Cup, to the Chino Rheems and JRB’s of the world, but despite this the poker world has been fairly good at avoiding EPIC FAILS (up until last year anyway). So with that in mind I thought I would take a look at where the poker world has gone wrong in the past, and where the Epic Poker League’s recent Chapter 11 filing falls on that list.

The biggest FAILS in poker history:

#4 – The durrrr Challenge

What was billed as a high-stakes, high-pressure, challenge match to determine exactly who the best poker player in the world is, ended up being a poorly conceived idea that took far too long to complete and was featured a loophole so large you could drive a truck through it.

Spaced over 50,000 hands it became obvious early on that a player that fell behind early could simply stall the entire process, to the point where the other player might take a smaller buyout just to get the matter resolved.

At the time it was announced, and right up until the first hand was dealt between Tom “durrrr” Dwan and Patrik Antonius the buzz around the Durrrr Challenge was palpable. However, by the end of the third session people had already grown tired of the lengthy format. When Dwan took on a second opponent (even though he and Antonius still have some 10,000 hands to play) the buzz had dipped from 70,000cheering fans to a slight murmur.

It’s too bad that the durrrr Challenge didn’t allow for some variance by shortening the matches and making them freeze-outs, a la the Superstar Showdown at PokerStars where challengers take on Viktor “Isildur1” Blom in a 5,000 hand or 10,000 hand match.

#3 – The Professional Poker Tour

Before the Epic Poker League there was the Professional Poker Tour (PPT) an offshoot of the World Poker Tour which used basically the same criteria as the Epic Poker League would attempt some 7 years later –which is one of the reasons why the Epic Poker League outranks the PPT in terms of being a FAIL.

The PPT was the first televised tournament (other than the ESPN WSOP Main Event coverage) to show fans highlights from the entire tournament, and not just the final table. The slow pace from watching top professionals in a slow-structured tournament wasn’t the only thing working against the PPT; as a complete freeroll, the tournaments’ prize-pools were paltry compared to the millions being won on the WPT and at the WSOP.

The PPT, like the Epic Poker League, didn’t make it past Season 1, although the WPT incorporated the PPT stops into their future schedules. It seems the EPL felt they could build upon the PPT, correcting their errors, but in the end it seems the poker world wasn’t ready for an exclusive tournament series in 2004 or in 2011.

#2 – The Epic Poker League

So why is the Epic Poker League a bigger FAIL than the Professional Poker Tour? Basically for two reasons:

#1 – As I mentioned above, the PPT was at least trying something new and being innovative; the Epic Poker League tried to copycat a fail; which in my opinion makes it an even bigger fail. It would be like someone bringing back the complete design of the Ford Pinto, but making it look different on the outside; it’s still a sh***y design!

#2 – the PPT never made the guarantees that the Epic Poker League. There was no end of year $1 Million freeroll, so when the league went belly-up players hadn’t lost anything. In this way the EPL basically made promises they were not sure they could keep.

From the outset, virtually anyone in the poker world who was being honest with themselves saw the EPL going down in flames fairly early-on in their existence. Comped meals, limo rides, rake-free events, and ridiculous amounts of money-added to tournament prize-pools were just some of the ways the EPL was acting like a convenience store clerk who just won Powerball.

Not to mention that the league was full of big name executives (who were likely not working pro-bono), hired a slew of writers, developed multiple websites as well as a Facebook game, and was spending money on marketing and developing like no poker tour before them. Before they were even turning a profit they were purchasing other entities like the Heartland Poker Tour!

There was also the fail within the fail of the Standards and Conduct Committee, which was responsible for some of the strangest decisions in the history of the game; poker players policing poker players is a REALLY bad idea.

Perhaps the lasting legacy of the Epic Poker League will be the Global Poker Index, which seems to be the best-to-date way of ranking tournament players. So like the XFL (one of sports all-time biggest fails) that gave us the overhead field camera, perhaps the EPL hasn’t been a total fail.

#1 – Full Tilt Poker

Not even the Epic Poker League can push Full Tilt Poker off of the most prominent spot on the Mount Rushmore of Poker Fails. A company that was making a million dollars a day by some estimates somehow found themselves with an alleged $6 million, when they owed players from around the globe some $300 million!

The fall of Full Tilt Poker in a matter of months is one of the most unbelievable stories in the history of poker, rivaling the Super-User scandal at UB and Absolute Poker. We had everything from shareholders receiving tens-of-millions of dollars in dividend payments, to a deposit shortfall when Full Tilt decided to “front” players’ money instead of removing the most popular deposit option for US players.

It’s hard to even fathom that on April 14, 2011 Full Tilt Poker had virtually the same reputation as PokerStars, and on June 29, 2011 the site saw its license suspended and was taken offline! Even UB and Absolute Poker managed to continue after the Super-User scandals!

Even if Full Tilt Poker is sold to Groupe Bernard Tapie, the damage done to the site in a matter of three months will forever live on in poker lore as the greatest fail in the history of the game: Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone could ever top Full Tilt, since they would have to build-up a highly successful company and then run it into the ground in a matter of months.

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