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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

What a Difference a Year Makes

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Well, the really big show is just about ready for Ed to say, "Good Night, Johnny." and slink off into poker history. When I started viewing this year's side show it was with past enthusiasm. Last year we-the unwashed masses-couldn't get enough of the blogs and chip counts. Pauly's site was click mania as people refreshed by the minute to get the latest and the latest always seemed to be there. New names were popping up left and right as a dedicated little group from a number of publications struggled to get it for us-usually right and never boring. Last July must have cost the corporate world hours of lost productivity. We just couldn't get enough of that kitschy Vegas experience.

This year is "The revenge of the Corporates" with corporate PR flacks giving us just what we should have had last year. And they didn't even do it with the grace of paying lip-service to a focus group. Big bucks showed up as sponsors-from a mediocre beer to every Dot-COM, Dot-NET - pass the black tape online entity. And, in the most egregious fashion a single source for all our news-Cardplayer DOT Can-we-say-COM. The do-it-with-a-passion crowd were sent to the penalty box. And with it went Technicolor, three-D, and wide screen with stereophonic sound. The click-reload-click-reload mania of the past was gone. And all the cubicles went back to the same, every day boring 9-5 black and white.

A few years ago people got interested in poker-well, duh. It did start with the WPT which quickly became a listed stock of marginal value. Was this the impetus? Or was it serendipity in the guise of Moneymaker, Greg, and a whole collection of passionate bloggers who didn't have an RIAA generated idea of how the world should operate? The latter doesn't fit into a spreadsheet very well. And spreadsheets have seemed to come to rule the day.

If I were to chart my WSOP excitement it would look like the chart for the other DOT COM craze and this year translates to 2000 on that chart-it fell off a cliff. Last year I was a click-a-holic. This year I am just numb. I remember Cardplayer as an innovator last year and how they overloaded big servers with a cobbled together review of final table action. It came with big names giving us a non-sterile, non-corporate view on-the-fly with so many trying to get the feed it brought the net to it's knees. This year I can get much better for only $24.95. Really????

I have visited more blogs this year than last. The mood seems totally different. Many are struggling to understand what happened. The undercurrent is one of dissatisfaction. But it hasn't really manifested itself with bloggers sticking their heads out the window and shouting, "I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.'; instead there is that mild carping you get from a spouse just before the papers are served.

Now Benny Binion, for all his faults and foibles, was a student of Barnum and gave the suckers what they wanted. The WSOP grew like Topsy. All he did was provide a ratty ol' room for a bunch of rounders to play an honest game. Everything about the WSOP and his old gambling hall was predicated on giving the players what they wanted. If some corporate type had walked up to him and handed him a spreadsheet, he'd have turned it over and written a comp on it for the buffet and sent the guy on his way. Success ala Binion was visceral.

Enter Harrahs. Exit excitement and innovation. And you can't enter through this door; you must go through the sideshow to get to the three ring circus. In my youth, every little town got the circus every summer. And, they are gone. Times change. We always hope for the better and sometimes all we end up with is a memory of a bygone time.

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