Five Thoughts: 2016 WSOP Begins, PNIA Allegations, and Allen Kessler Takes on the GPL
The 2016 World Series of Poker kicked off Wednesday with the usual soft start that is the $565 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold'em event.
The single-reentry tournament drew a healthy total of 731, but was clearly the calm before the storm.
The convention center at the Rio All-Suite Las Vegas Hotel and Casino will surely be buzzing Thursday when the first two of six flights in Event #2: $565 Colossus II go off.
The event has an affordable buy-in, a $7 million guaranteed prize pool, a $1 million guaranteed first-place prize and set records last year when 22,374 showed up to play.
I'm going to go out on the strongest of limbs here and make the less-than-bold prediction that the 2016 WSOP's $565 Colossus II will be the biggest live poker tournament ever held in the history of the game.
The evidence that this is a definite possibility is simply overwhelming. The current record stands at 22,374, set in this very same event at the 2015 WSOP, and this time around, there are two additional starting flights.
There was a lot of buzz in 2015 that the $638,880 winner Cord Garcia received wasn't enough. This year, the WSOP answered the critics before they even asked, guaranteeing a $1 million first-place prize.
Plus, the poker community's appetite for low buy-in events that feature multiple starting days and big scores has been proven time and time again at venues all across the country throughout the year.
Without a doubt, Colossus II is going to be huge, just be forewarned, that also means line-ups for everything from registration to the restrooms, will be as well.
Allegations Rocks Poker Night in America
Last week, accusations were made that rocked the poker community when Jaclynn Moskow levied a series of allegations against members of the Poker Night in America crew in her blog. Claims of mistreatment in her 2014 appearance on the show included allegations that WSOP Media Director and the show's former creative director Nolan Dalla sexually harrassed her, show host Chris Hanson made anti-semetic remarks to her, and show creator Todd Anderson generally treated her like she was the object of a colleague's lust and he didn't want her there.
While Hanson has remained mute, Dalla took to the Internet to deny everything, and Anderson crafted an official response from the show doing pretty much the same.
Moscow went on Joey Ingram's podcast and presented some relatively damaging proof in the form of text messages between her and the show's public relations pro, Chris Capra, admitting something happened that was untoward, while player liaison Matt Glantz leaked an email showing Moscow was trying to negotiate $100,000 in hush money before she went public.
There's obviously two sides to the story, and unless either one takes this to court, we might never know the real truth of what happened on that particular poker night in America. That's why my official opinion on the whole thing, at this point, is that I have none, and that's also why I was so disappointed to see so many members of the poker community chime in on social media, picking a side.
Like anyone, Dalla, Hanson, and Anderson are entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Similarly, Moscow deserves the right to levy these kinds of accusations without being called a liar.
Anyone who wasn't there, and chooses to pick a side, runs the risk of having to eat their words when the truth is discovered later, and if they're wrong, are as guilty of slander as anyone involved.
Of course, members of the poker community are never short on opinions, but perhaps here lies a case where they should be. At the very least until all the facts are revealed. This way, they give equal respect to both the accused and accuser here, as they deserve.
I never thought I'd say this, but I actually like billionaire Bill Perkins' side in his latest prop bet.
Perkins and Brian Rast have wagered $50,000 that poker pro Byron Kaverman won't be able to complete an Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run) in under 13 hours, over the next six months.
Considering Kaverman often takes about that long tanking every street in a poker hand, and the fact the average triathlete completes one of these grueling tests of endurance in about 12.5 hours, Kaverman would have to be considered a real dog here.
Predictions aside, Perkins is certainly right about one thing when it comes to these physical challenge prop bets, saying that everyone wins here. Kaverman gets to challenge himself in a way he's likely never done before and will recoup the health benefits of training, win or lose.
Perkins and Rast, like the rest of the poker community, get the excitement of sweating the bet while helping motivate a friend to achieve something he may not have otherwise tried. It's definitely a win-win all around.
Hearts and Minds
Kudos to the sales and marketing team at Poker Central for scoring mainstream sponsors like Pizza Hut, Jack In The Box, and Busch for the 2016 Super High Roller Bowl.
Coupled with the live coverage on CBS Sports Network, these type of advertisers bring more to the game than just new money. They help push poker further into the mainstream American lexicon. A move that is obviously good for the continued growth of the game and the endurance of the community.
The WSOP should consider poaching this crew, as poker's most prestigious tournament series has, for the most part, failed to consistently tap into any true mainstream advertising market to date. If these guys can get this done for a relative newcomer to the game like the Super High Roller Bowl, there's no telling what they can do with poker's most enduring brand.
It's long been thought that Madison Avenue was a little weary of poker and the casino industry based on issues of morality, but it seems Poker Central has opened the door now, and one would have to think a brand with the clout of the WSOP would be able to walk right through it as well.
Kessler Versus the GPL
Structure guru, perennial runner-up, and consistent complainer Allen Kessler had some pretty harsh words for the Global Poker League on Twitter last week, claiming no one cares about the fledgling poker league.
Poker pro and GPL commentator Griffin Benger's response was a profanity-laced Twitter tirade of his own, and while I think his point was that the GPL doesn't care what Kessler thinks, responding at all only proves otherwise.
Benger went on to sling even more mud at one punter who suggested a lack of professionalism in the language he used in his response to Kessler.
GPL boss Alex Dreyfus took a bit more of a high road, simply telling Kessler his thoughts on the league were insulting to its players and fans and perhaps Benger should take a page out of his book and learn that attacking your detractors rarely helps your cause in any way shape or form.
The GPL is headed into what is sure to be a very important summer for the league, where the first of its live matches will be held at a studio in Las Vegas throughout the duration of the 2016 WSOP.
If the league is to survive, thrive, and make good on its promise to "sportify poker", surely it should be spending more time working on perfecting that product than engaging in Twitter beefs with the chronically dissatisfied.
*Please note that the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author.