[Editor's Note: This story is an adaptation of interviews and material that are part of Ms. Eolis' forthcoming book, Power Poker Dame]
No sooner than the plane touched down on the tarmac at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, my mobile phone is afire with messages from players at the 2005 World Series of Poker. Record fields of tournament entrants are daily occurrences. High-profile poker players are fixated on tournaments that will be televised, and three more poker player associations have been hatched in the WSOP corridors.
Imagine yourself playing in a major no limit tournament. Sitting with a medium stack on the button, you look down at an Ace 10 suited. This hand is good enough to raise with given that only the blinds remain. You raise three times the big blind. You are watching the small blind as he contemplates for a few seconds and then moves all in. He has a short stack and the raise is just a little more than double your initial raise. You noticed that he was a little forceful when he put his chips into the middle (acting strong). The big blind folded.
"I equate poker to NASCAR. Everyone drives, so they have an instant recognition for the skill and drama of NASCAR. Well, there's a huge population that plays poker. It's reality programming, with drama, excitement and a tremendous amount of money."
- Neal Pilson, a television consultant hired by Harrah's to negotiate a new deal beyond 2007 for its World Series of Poker property, as quoted in the New York Times on July 12th (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/12/sports/othersports/12sandomir.html)
Its not very often that I would choose to write about anything negative in poker. Even less likely that I would take a swipe at someone who was obviously a newcomer to the poker scene. After all, it's due to the influx of these new kids that has helped our game to explode. However.....
I know. I've talked about today's topic before. It's World Series of Poker time, so maybe it's the season to think about repairing poker tournaments.
Why repair them? Because, they're a disaster. Yes, I realize that they're more popular than ever. I realize that most are competently managed and unfold smoothly. So, maybe "disaster" wasn't the right word. Let me think. Wait...
The big story of Day 1C involved Mike "The Mouth" Matusow. Within the first hour of the tournament, Matusow found himself in some trouble. Apparently the dealer originally called a penalty on him for throwing his cards. When the tournament directors came over to his table, he politely explained his situation and the other players backed him up. He was let go with a warning. Unfortunately, the garrulous Mike Matusow is a guy who has a tough time letting things go. He let a F-bomb slip and was quickly assessed a ten minute penalty for use of profanity.
Although I'm making more money than I have ever earned before as a poker writer and poker player, I often question whether or not poker has gotten too big. When I first met one of my ex-girlfriends three years ago, she frowned upon the fact that I frequently played poker in underground card rooms in New York City. She seemed visibly annoyed when I took side trips to Foxwoods Casino or road trips down to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City.