2020 Online WSOP Unmasked

The World Series of Poker has announced an online poker series in July with 85 gold bracelets up for grabs. But instead of considering how the WSOP can attract the most players during a global pandemic, complaints quickly surfaced about the perceived devaluation of the bracelet. 
 
There are some valid criticisms about the online series, but handing out bracelets shouldn’t be one of them.

Not WSOP's Job to Restrict Bracelet Supply

Bracelets are not like bitcoins, where there are only going to be so many. It is not the job of the WSOP to capriciously restrict the supply of bracelets. It is their job to create a special environment for players and fans, and to drive traffic to the tournaments and cash games.

The WSOP is the greatest poker festival that exists, precisely because it attracts an incredible variety of people from all over the world for a chance to win the most prestigious prize in poker. Professionals can ante up $10,000 or more for a single tournament to compete with a couple hundred of their peers. Amateurs with several hundred dollars can dream about navigating through 10,000 players – or turning $86 into $2.5 million.

Winning a bracelet is an entry into a prestigious club, not an exclusive club. People talk about certain events devaluing a bracelet, but, what is the value of a bracelet? Would they rather come in first for $250,000, or second for $260,000? What’s the line?
 
I know which one makes for a better story! But there are some things money can buy.

What the WSOP Does Need to Improve

Eighty-five online bracelets do not detract from the almost 2,000 live bracelets awarded to date, but terrible software certainly detracts from players’ experience. At the time of this writing, WSOP.com says, “Currently we only support playing one table at a time on mobile. PLO games and tournaments are not compatible on mobile.”
 
Really? They can’t fit four cards on your phone’s screen?

This isn’t even a new problem. There have been PLO online bracelet tournaments in 2018 and 2019, and if you’re at the WSOP, you have to drag a laptop around to play them. Just hope you don’t get moved to an interior table without a power outlet nearby.

And don’t even get me started about mixed games. Just like James Harden, WSOP.com has a strict flop-only policy, and there are no mixed game tourneys available. Somehow, the WSOP chose a partner for the international tournaments, GGPoker, that doesn’t offer any mixed games either. Perhaps Chris Ferguson can perform some community service and help bring the software up to date — or at least up to 2010.
 
There are other suggestions to improve the quality of the online product, including using real names for the bracelet events. Partypoker did a great job by displaying real names for the recent online Poker Masters and Super High Roller Bowl events. You don’t want any confusion about who’s playing online, or who’s the WSOP Player of the Year.

Bottom Line: It's More People Playing Poker

As states in America continue to legalize sports betting, we can only hope more states will continue to legalize poker too. What better way to show lawmakers there is a desire and a market for legal online poker in the U.S. than a successful WSOP online series? It will enhance —not detract from — the live WSOP experience. It will bring poker to more people.
 
How could more people playing online poker be a bad thing?

It may be the best we can get this summer, but perhaps we will hold cards together again in the fall. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some excitement built up in the meantime? I know a few people who can’t wait to finally wear a mask at the tables!

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2020: A New Hope

A new year has arrived and with it, the promise of a blank canvas.  It is officially time to start over and get going. 

While I definitely have specific goals in mind for this coming year, I also find it important to look back to the major accomplishments (or lack thereof) in 2019.

2019 was a very uneven year for the animals of Nitty Kitty.  The biggest development was the redesign of this website and the development of a new poker t-shirt, the Run it Twice Mice.  The poker apparel world was taken by storm!

The shirt was released just in time for the 2019 World Series of Poker.  However, unlike a wildly successful 2018 filled with multiple final tables for friends and one bracelet for Steve, 2019 provided the worst results in recent memory.

At the same time, my own game provided mediocre results, with a marginal win rate.  Looking at my graph shows that I maxed out in June.  As a limit holder player, I can’t help but think of the six months I spent playing breakeven, destroying my essence. 

With that in mind, I’ll take the sage advice of a friend and zoom out to feel better about myself, as the past five years show steady growth.  I’m just going to ignore the breakeven stretch between early 2017 and today 😐

All of this leads us to 2020.

I have reason to believe that 2020 is going to be good.  A special PokerGo episode will be filmed in January featuring a few of our people.  A few months after that, spring will be here and a whole new opportunity at the World Series of Poker.  Lastly, I turn 40 in October and I’m already trying to figure out how to handle a special get together in Vegas for friends.  People, I have plans.

All that being said, this year’s success will depend in part on my planning.   Therefore, much like I had done in the past (on the old website) it’s time to list some goals for the coming year to both hold myself accountable and get it on the record.

First, I need to play more.  For the past two years, I have found myself playing less often.  Furthermore, when I do play, I find myself tapping out early.  I am a winning player in my game and I am throwing money away by not putting myself in the game as often as possible for as long as possible.  It is time to get the volume back.  

Part of that involves my biggest goal of 2020:  bring back the Tuesday game. 

The Tuesday game was a home game that started over a decade ago, allowing a group of random friends to play cards and bust each others balls.  From its modest beginnings, the game became more serious as it developed and eventually turned into a home game featuring multiple WSOP Bracelet winners battling with a bunch of random dorks.  As everyone has gotten older the meetings have dramatically decreased and 2019 only had one meeting.  I am putting this on myself.  2020 will be the year that we bring back the Tuesday game.

Lastly, I need to work on this site more.  The poker t-shirts will continue to be released so there is no reason to not promote and expand.  There will be more content.  More updates.  More testimonials.  More blog posts.  We will cement ourselves as the best poker t-shirt option in the world. 

This will be our year.

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We Are Lucky to Have You and Thank You Very Much

Last week I had the ultimate “how did we get here?” moment while watching coverage of the first day of the WSOP Main Event on ESPN.

Like most people my age, my journey into poker started in the early 2000’s during the post-Moneymaker hysteria.  Because of that, all of my earliest and fondest memories of the game involve ESPN’s coverage.  The slide guitar, the  vignettes of up and coming players, the awful ex wife jokes, the whole deal.  

This all coincided with my poker evolution, moving from curiosity to fascination and then obsession.

Thankfully, this awakening coincided with me befriending a group of guys who had also become interested in the game.  Because of them I have great memories of our early struggles with the game.  What started as a few random NL tournaments quickly turned into a weekly game every Tuesday night.

While I have a strong memory of those early days, I have the assistance of an old website forum that documented the antics of that game.  Populated by the regulars in the game, we spent years going over hands and absurdity from each evening we played.  

All of this is relevant because one of the eventual regulars from that game, Brandon Shack Harris, was seated at a featured table on ESPN this evening.

Seeing BSH on my television is nothing new, as I had sweat him via the web based WSOP coverage during his many deep runs.  However, this was different. There was something notable and official about one of us being on the Main Event coverage, the same television show that introduced us to the holy game of poker.  

Ladies and gentlemen, we have entered a new era.   These are the times we will all remember.  

To BSH!

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