Okay, this post is going to be addressed to a narrow audience: poker fanatics who understand the politics of the World Series of Poker.
I attended the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas last year. I won $1600 by coming in fourth in a side tournament (“side tournament” means it’s not an official tournament), and I used that money to buy into event #54, a no limit hold’em event. I didn’t “cash,” but it was fun to participate in an actual “bracelet event.” In events where you cash (finish in the money), you are invited to contribute 1% to the official charity of the World Series of Poker, which last year was Bad Beat on Cancer. I always contributed, even when I cashed in a single table “sit’n’go.” However, I did have a little discomfort, because I know that on the board of directors of Bad Beat on Cancer are Phil Gordon, who was associated with Full Tilt Poker (an online poker site which vanished with the players’ money after being indicted by the Department of Justice) and Annie Duke, who was associated with both UltimateBet and Epic Poker (the former a very sketchy online poker site, and the latter a live league that made a bunch of promises to players before evaporating due to poor funding).
I notice that this year the official charity of the WSOP is One Drop, the charity of the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil Guy Laliberte. (It’s dedicated to providing clean water to the world’s population.) There is no mention of Bad Beat on Cancer on the WSOP website and no mention of this year’s WSOP on the BBoC website. I assume the association with Gordon and Duke brought the charity down. It’s unfortunate, because raising money for cancer research is obviously a good charity. (And I know that cancer has touched Phil Gordon’s life. He was a founder of BBoC because he lost an aunt, if I’m not mistaken, to it.) However, I was genuinely concerned about donating money because the board of directors had shown such poor judgment in the past.
Guy Laliberte seems like a pretty great guy overall. (Of course, now that I say that, it will turn out that he’s performing Satanic goat sacrifices in front of kids at an orphanage.) I admire people who earned the money they’ve made through their imagination, intelligence, and hard work. In addition, I admire people who then aren’t shy about using their money and social prominence to help other people.
Turning to a more narcissistic topic: my wife and I will be at the WSOP for 11 days this year, just like last year. I’m a little worried about having a “bankroll” to play poker with, because we’ve had a lot of expenses this year. However, we’re going to save some money out of our paychecks from May and June, and use that for poker. I was looking over my “trip report” from going last year (which I posted to a poker website), and I was reminded that I don’t really play poker every day at the WSOP. Some days you end up spending 8 hours playing a “cash game” and are up a little or down a little. Other days you play a few single table sit’n’gos and walk away with a couple of tournament entry “lammers.” Then some days you get into a multi-table tournament that lasts 8 hours. And some days you relax or do sightseeing. The trip is still a luxury, but this is really the only big vacation my wife and I take during the year, so we really need it.