'Net Kiddies at WSOP Felt en Masse, If Not Individually
I've seen several blog and forum postings in recent days bemoaning what is perceived as the relative lack of big names winning bracelets at this year's WSOP. I don't know if the 'name pro' crowd feels the same way, but if they do, it might be reminiscent of Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid pointing out at the ever-trailing posse and asking Sundance (Robert Redford), "Who are those guys?"
The answer is that a lot of them seem to be 'Net kiddies of the poker variety, taking their online winnings and having a go at the WSOP. It's not that the successes have necessarily been by the biggest of the online names, but there have been several bracelets claimed by the James Mackey and Steve Billirakis crowd, kids probably barely able to shave (like Mackey) who nonetheless likely learned their poker chops in the online version of the game.
A couple of years ago, Phil Laak wrote something rather telling in the midst of one of his otherwise mediocre stories; Phil's a poker player, not a poker writer, but once in a while in the midst of pooing on the page he makes a telling point. In this case he was reporting on a rather unsuccessful poker trip to Aruba for the Aruba Classic, where he basically watched some kids too young to enter U.S. casinos --- because they were over 18 but under 21 --- as they smoked the competition at the highest cash games in Aruba.
I'm not gonna dig out the magazines to get the exact quote, but Laak remarked to the extent that he had seen the future of poker, and it was 'terrible,' or 'frightening,' or somesuch. The players he saw freely admitted to building their skills and their bankrolls online, and because of the nature of that online game, they were able to do it in a big hurry.
We're seeing it this year at the WSOP. Lots of young, anonymous, baby-faced kids are snatching WSOP gold, and I expect the trend to continue in years to come. One thing that would be interesting to see is a graph tracking the average age of bracelet winners on a year-by-year basis, tossing out the Seniors winner (for obvious reasons). I can't do that right now, but I'd love to know how much truth this supposition holds.