Takeaways from 2012 WSOP: Image of the poker pro

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jul 22, 2012 Posted in Op-Ed, WSOP News | No Comments »

There was a lot going on at the 2012 World Series of Poker. From the controversies and complaints, to David “ODB” Baker’s Ben Lambish performance, to the Big One for One Drop tournament, to Phil Hellmuth’s 12th bracelet, to Phil Ivey’s five final tables in two weeks: It was a pretty wild ride at the 2012 WSOP.

Among all of the highs and lows there several things that stood out for me during the 2012 WSOP, and in this five-part series I’ll take a look at the five things I have taken away from the 2012 World Series of Poker.

* The prevalence of backing is destroying the public’s image if the professional poker player

* There are too many events at the WSOP

* The Big One for One Drop tournament saved the 2012 WSOP

* Women are still a small percentage of poker players, but that small percentage is pretty good

* The poker world as it stood in 2003 is now officially dead

The prevalence of backing is destroying the public’s image if the professional poker player

Thehendonmob.com is one of the most useful tools for people in my profession, but those of us who use their extensive tournament database on a daily basis know that it only tells part of the story. Unfortunately, the dirty secret regarding poker results is starting to pervade the causal fan’s understanding of precisely what a professional poker makes.

Poker tournaments are one of the few areas where I like to ask the laymen question that drives poker players bananas: “But how much did you lose?” because we only ever see the gross income from tournaments, not the net. And don’t even get me started on the cost of travel, accommodations, and lifestyle on the road to play in these events!

But it’s not simply a matter of deducting the buy-ins and expenses for tournament players, there is also the matter of backing deals, where some players are constantly playing with 20%-30% of themselves. The intrigue surrounding the One Drop tournament (which I’ll touch upon in an upcoming installment of this series) was the first time that casual fans will probably hear about backing deals, selling pieces, and so on. They are also going to start realizing that not everyone who wins a million-dollar tournament is a millionaire.

While this might seem like a bad thing on the surface (shattering the dream of the Rock-Star Poker-Player) in the end it’s a part of poker that the public actually needs to see. These aren’t simply luckboxes who won a big tournament or slacker kids who don’t want to get a real job; most poker players struggle to get by in 2012, and grinding out tournaments and cash-games while selling pieces of themselves to survive and stay in action.

For the first time the public seems to be getting the message that for all but the top .1% in poker, the game is a really tough way to make an easy living.



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