Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Bad Night For Poker Purists

Poker pros and the elitists of the game, who argue until they’re blue in the face about how much of a skill game poker is, were left scratching their heads after this year’s Main Event final table. Broadcast Tuesday night on ESPN, the play by many left little to be desired, but it was the “luck” factor that had everyone talking.

A game that at best is 60% skill and 40% luck (sorry, Mr. Negreanu), was turned upside down over the weekend, as eventual champion Joe Cada came back from the depths of poker hell (at one point having less than 2% of the chips in play), to claim poker’s greatest prize.

In three crucial hands, Cada started with the three worst pocket pairs someone can have (44, 33, and 22), but managed to scoop the pot and double up each time. In only one of those three hands was Cada even close to being a pre flop favorite (even money to be exact), as his pocket 4’s held up versus Phil Ivey’s A8. The other two were complete ‘suck outs’, to the chagrin of his opponents.

He flopped a set of 3’s, versus Jeff Schulman’s JJ, and he flopped a set of 2’s versus Antoine Saout’s QQ. In both hands, Cada’s chips and tournament life were at stake.

What this Main Event proved, and quite loudly on a national TV scale, is that luck is much more a factor of the game, than the pros and online gambling advocates would like you to believe. Poker Pro and Jesus look alike Chris Ferguson, recently blogged about poker being a 100% skill game. A statement that stupid should get you crucified.

I agree that players like Phil Ivey are skilled crafty card players- who constantly outplay their opponents, many times with the worst hand. And Ivey’s success will attest to this.

But after watching Cada’s run to the top, with a horseshoe planted squarely up his ass, and seeing the likes of skilled, successful pros like Ivey, getting sent to the rail with much the superior hand preflop (his AK lost to Darvin Moon’s AQ- gee, imagine that), you can spare me with all the “it’s a skill game” talk.

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