Four observations from the 2011 WSOP Main Event coverage

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Nov 10, 2011 Posted in Op-Ed, WSOP News | No Comments »

* Heads-Up Poker is extremely boring to watch

This is a very important consideration for producers working on next year’s live feed, since poker in general is boring to begin with! During Sunday’s action it started off a bit slow, but well paced, and as players were eliminated you could actually feel the tension growing and the speed increasing. But once Ben Lamb was eliminated in 3rd place Staszko and Heinz slowed down the pace considerably.

Hopefully ESPN and the WSOP can figure out some way to spice-up the heads-up portion of the 2012 Main Event coverage.

* Staszko was the better Heads-Up player

Speaking of heads-up; was anyone else as surprised as I was that Martin Staszko seemed to the better heads-up player! While his button aggression was a bit of an outlier (this could have been strategic based on his hyper aggressive opponent) Staszko’s heads-up play was quite impressive.

* Tournaments always come down to flips

This is the real difference between tournaments and cash-games; in long, multi-day, tournaments there are inevitably a handful of situations where your entire tournament comes down to a coin-flip. It’s just the nature of the beast.

While I’m of the opinion that tournament poker requires a wider skill set (unless you are a mixed-game player) since you need to be able to play deep, short, and mid-stacks as well as being able to play full ring, short-handed, and heads-up; inevitably in a tournament there will be a point where you have to get your money that a cash-game player would cringe at.

* Poker has come a long way since 2003

Last year I was extremely impressed with the final table, this year even more so. I think the days of outright amateurs like Steve Dannenmann, Jerry Yang, Darvin Moon, and so on making the final table are behind us –one might sneak in here and there but the days of having an absolute amateur at the final table seem to be over. You can argue the Bob Bounhara falls into this category but other than playing a bit loose/passive he didn’t make any “wild” plays that are the hallmark of an amateur.

In the past two years you would be hard-pressed to find the major strategic mistakes that were prevalent in years past. Even the pros skill level has increased at least 10-fold in that time period. If you transported the bottom five finishers from 2011 back in time, and pitted them against the Top 5 finishers (or Top 5 players which is subjective) from 2003 that the 2011 players would dominate.


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