This is going to be a two part series detailing a few idealistic and likely controversial changes I would like to make in poker. The chances of any of these measures being adopted are slim to none, but perhaps we can move closer toward these measures and eventually, over time, make it a reality.
I’ll be starting the series with three changes I would like to see happen in live poker, before moving on and dealing with online poker in Part 2.
Consolidate and contract poker tours
Like Atlantic City and its 11 brick & mortar casinos (which up until very recently numbered 12) there are simply too many competing poker tours.
Every week it’s WSOPC here, Heartland Poker Tour there, EPT, WPT, UKIPT, LAPT, ANZPT, GPS, GUKPT, MSPT, CPPT… Quite frankly, it’s time to create an acronym graveyard for some of these tournaments.
People keep talking about declining attendance numbers since the heyday of the Poker Boom but I’m not really sure that’s even an accurate assessment, it just seems like the players are now spread across the globe, competing at concurrently running tournament series.
Head-to-head competition is good in most industries, but it hurts everyone when it comes to poker tournaments. It hurts the casinos, it hurts the poker tours, and it hurts most of the players.
Unfortunately, as with any fix, there is a small group that will be hurt by my idea to contract poker tours and that group is your mid-level tournament poker pro. These players will have fewer options and will probably have a harder time making a living with fewer tournaments to choose from, but if we want to start having major tournament festivals that capture the attention of the casual viewer (and maybe even draw the interest of a network) this really needs to happen.
Impose a basic dress code
This idea has been kicked around for a while now, and even attempted over the years, and I’ve always been in favor of it. In fact, my dress code requirements also extend into technology, as you’ll soon see.
Restaurants have them, and depending how swanky the place, they can range from “No shirt, no shoes, no service” to “Jacket and tie required.” In my opinion a dress code imposed at poker tournaments should fall closer to the former, so I’m not really asking for much.
Here’s what I don’t want to see at a poker table:
- Tank tops
- Any type of hat or headgear
- Electronic devices used at the table
- Sandals or flip flops (and shoes must be worn at all times)
Other than the scarves and sunglasses, players will argue that this is an issue of comfort, and in some of the cases mentioned above it could very well be, but remember this: You are not the only player at the table, and your lack of shoes or the sight of a poker player’s body in a tank top may be very uncomfortable for those sitting around you.
Furthermore, it’s a matter of perception. If you just moved to a new town and were looking for a nice bar to frequent how impressed would you be if upon walking in you saw nothing a bunch of people in tank tops, flip flops and baseball hats all using their iPhones and wearing headphones it’s probably not going to make you feel very comfortable.
A poker room is intimidating enough, and entering a mid- to high-buy-in poker tournament is even harder to muster up the courage to do, so why are we making it even more uncomfortable for new players?
My first question here is why is this not being done already? It’s done online, and in the age of computers and player club cards there is no reason we can’t do this now. There was a site doing this for the WSOP a couple years ago but then there was some complaining (surprise, surprise) about people not wanting their names attached to gambling and they ended it.
I would love to see every tournament either start tracking these figures, or publicly release their entry lists for someone else to compile.
It’s not simply a matter of having more accurate results as to what players are spending for POY purposes either; a serious tracking site of this type could help solve the current ridiculousness of backing in poker –but that’s an issue for another article.
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