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Monday, July 24, 2017

Poker Problems

The World Series Of Poker Main Event awarded $8.15 million to 2017 champion Scott Blumstein early yesterday morning. While it had its third-largest field ever, fewer than 3% of Main Event players were women. Worse, according to Norman Chad, there was only one woman under the age of 26, and she wasn't from the USA. Sad to see that no effort is being made to attract more female players. By the way, in the 40+ year history of the Main Event, only one woman has ever made the final table -- Barbara Enright, in 1995.

It's bad for the future of poker if the current generation of silent, hoodie-wearing, twenty-something men make up nearly its entire player demographic. The only person to inject any personality into this year's final table was John Hesp, a 64-year-old Englishman who finished fourth, exuding fun along the way and encouraging the other players to talk to each other and enjoy themselves. That spirit is missing from too much of poker. When the game loses its social element, when the players won't exhibit even basic cordiality to each other, joke around, and express their happiness at being part of the experience, you have a recipe for boredom.

Speaking of poker, the folks at ESPN have put together a very good podcast about Phil Ivey's edge-sorting case, including first-person audio from Kelly Sun, the woman who engineered the entire baccarat advantage scheme to get back at the casinos she felt had done her wrong. It's called "A Queen Of Sorts."