Last week, the nominations went out for Bluff magazine's Reader's Choice Awards. It's a nice little end of year tradition where Bluff gives the fans the outlet to voice appreciation for the biggest and brightest of the year in poker. Or so we hope.
Standard questions of omission and inclusion are going to be constantly applied to a mostly arbitrary nomination process and the list that comes with this year's nominations is a long one. Here's the category that really stood out to me:
Top Story of 2009:
• Phil Hellmuth Arrives at WSOP/WSOPE Dressed as Caesar
Really? Phil Hellmuth?
I mean, I get that Phil -- who I spend as much time writing about as anyone -- is as big of a star as we have in the game. I get that UB is one of Bluff's prime advertisers. I get that his behavior puts eyes on the television and gets tongues wagging in the aftermath, but in a year where:
• The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act got pushed back by six months as a signal of good things to come for the industry
• People were turned away for the first time ever from the World Series of Poker main event on Day 1D
• An allegedly 19-year old Swede named "Isildur1" came out of nowhere to almost double the record for largest online pot and take $5 million off of the previously indestructible-seeming Tom Dwan
... are we really going to give this kind of an event this kind of attention?
The thing is, it's the poker media's fault. For years now, online players have screamed bloody murder at the attention given to television professionals who, in less-than-humble forum-dwelling opinions, couldn't even approach the web's finest players. Charisma is rewarded before brilliance. That same group of professionals has become so entrenched in the consciousness that if you're a white American male, your chances of getting a sponsorship are somewhere between infinitesimal and naught. Meanwhile, the old guard basks in its 10-tournaments-a-year-or-less, camera-endearing glory.
We should know better. We should be better.
Ultimately, Hellmuth won't win the above award and if he does, it's quite a shame. I think we all know that Ivey's final table appearance drew the most attention throughout the year and I expect it will win in the end. Meaningless stories like the Hellmuth one being highlighted here is only bad for the bigger picture of the game. It paints poker as farce and I'd like to think we're bigger and brighter than that.
Small blinds: 313 players started out with $60,000 at the Doyle Brunson Poker Classic at the Bellagio on Monday. Darryll Fish leads the way with David Woo, Jon Turner, Billy Kopp, Carlos Mortensen, and Antonio Esfandiari rounding out the top six. WSOP Champ Joe Cada is still in contention while Jonathan Little, Jeff Madsen, Joe Hachem, Chad Brown, Daniel Negreanu and defending champion Chino Rheem were eliminated.