Sunday, September 17, 2006

Behold the Wretched, in Two-Part Harmony

So there I was, night before last two mornings ago, sweating the final tables of the WCOOP Event #1, the $215 razz tourney. My current duties have me busy at the moment, temporarily dampening my output here, but as always, hang around --- there's more a -comin'. As for the WCOOO, these have been fun tourneys to watch, and probably even more fun to play --- Event #1 brought in more than two-and-a-half times the expected players, based on the pre-tourney guarantee. Who won it and how the final table went down, well, go on over to for that report.

Now to regurgitate some of the blecch-hh I absorbed as well. First, a hearty raspberry to that segment of the poker populace who proved once again why railbird chat has to be banned from the final tables. As usual, any time a big-name player goes deep, the idiots emerge on the screen, like worms arising from oversaturated ground. In this one, both Greg Raymer and Joe Hachem made extended runs, and when Raymer went out near the bubble, the dreck and the trolling in the Hachem-table chat window reached almost Ivey- or Matusow-like (as occasionally seen on Full Tilt) proportions.

I'm always amazed at the people who talk about the players --- as they're playing --- as some sort of objet d'art, with nary a concern in the world. Ugly, self-indulgent, puerile stuff, and to date no online site has come up with a well-defined solution for dealing with this sort of chat-dreck overflow... other than to shut the whole thing off.

There's got to be a better solution, such as allowing non-participating chatters x-number of comments in any single window --- five, to pick a number from the air --- before they're auto-blocked from further disruption of the greater good. Truthfully, it'll never happen.

But it's still nice to dream.

Wretched the Second Part has to go to Bluff, for their gawdawful final-table webcast, the first of 18 that we're threatened with in the two weeks to come. You'll notice the link to the pending broadcast on the main tournament window (unless they deep-six this meaningless stuff in the meantime, which would be an improvement). Should you venture there, be afraid. Be very afraid.

An open note to those involved: Uh, guys, it's really a good idea to give the system a once-through from the locations you're going to try to connect from, before going live with it. And the Radio Shack stuff doesn't work.

This "broadcast" featured an almost neverending collection of dropped connections, insane loop feedback, wandering tonal quality... and when all that stuff started to get handled a little bit better, absolutely non-insightful final-table commentary. It started out featuring one of the Stars reps and was supposed to have Chris Moneymaker on color, but they didn't manage to get Moneymaker on until halfway through --- and when the first announcer also dropped off early in the broadcast (he announced his name once, but it came through garbled), Nick Geber jumped in and did an emergency replacement broadcast for a few short minutes. As far as Geber's stuff went, it was actually concise and to the point, an explanation of relative chip counts, a bit on why and how some of the hands were being played --- in short, okay stuff.

But soon enough, it was back to the non-explanatory Stars rep and (finally) Moneymaker, who self-admitted that he doesn't play a lot of razz and sounded exhausted to the point of slurring his words. One of the final-table players (solody) reported via chat that a friend said Moneymaker sounded drunk, and added in a "You drunk, Chris?" line later on, but that didn't seem to be it --- it just seemed like someone who'd hit that wall of exhaustion: Moneymaker had his own busy event schedule, and played for several hours earlier in this one himself. It sounded like Chris was all but falling asleep on the mike --- and it made for not-too-insightful commentary, just a rote dispensing of some intro- and intermediate-level razz basics. The Stars guy? Well, he might as well have not been there, for what he added of meaning to the mix. Bring back Geber!

But here's the most inane part of all: Beyond the terrible production quality and the non-informative commentary, the broadcast filled no useful purpose. Due to overestimating the short delay necessary to keep the announcers from accidentally commenting on something that could affect play --- a commentator's pre-requisite that Greg Raymer ran afoul of inhis own first gig two nights later, when the time-delay had been shortened precipitously --- what the commentators were talking about and referring to was always two or three hands behind the hand being played. And since almost everyone who was listening was watching the final table anyhow (because that's how they found out about the 'cast in the first place), they could see what was going on themselves. On the flip side, for a newbie just trying to learn about razz, it was useless in the other way --- he would have have been unable to pickup additional strategy tips from watching the cards and listening to the talk, since if the talk had something insightful to point out, the hand itself was long gone from the main-screen view. Fortunately, insightful talk was never threatened.

Wretched stuff, through and through. A "because we can" moment, courtesy of Bluff.

And one late note: I've listened to the the first three of these final-table broadcasts, and they have improved. The second night's commentary, featuring Italy's Luca Pagano, was often bass-distorted to the point of unintelligibility, and only on night three did the worst of the tech problems seem to have handled. The time delay has also been chopped, though Greg Raymer, referred to above, probably ensured that it won't be chopped any further. Raymer managed not once, but twice, to talk about individual player's decisions in a way that had the potentional to affect their future play. Raymer's understated and direct commentary was actually most refreshing and the best of the three nights to dat, but he has hasn't quite picked up the broadcaster's trickof addressing specifics by referring to them in oblique generalities. Well, hang in there, Greg.

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