The 2012 PokerStars Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) is drawing to a close this Sunday, but not before three main events with $1 million, $1.5 million and $2.5 million guarantees are offered. A staggering 115,004 unique players have played in one or more of the 72 events thus far, generating a total prize pool of $35,873,599. There have been 155 countries represented, and 131 countries have cashed at least once.
At the top of the SCOOP 2012 Leaderboard is Shaun “shaundeeb” Deeb (Mexico) with 470 points. His closest competitor, JRADF79 (Belgium), has only 305 points, and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom (United Kingdom) is tied for third with 290 points.
1. Waffle Crushing SCOOP 2012
Over the first nine days of SCOOP 2012, Shaun Deeb has recorded nine cashes, three final tables, and two wins. Unlike Blom, who won no-limit hold’em events on consecutive days, both of Deeb’s victories came in seven-card stud. His first victory came in SCOOP 10-H: $2,000 Limit Stud ($25K Guaranteed), where he bested a field of 64 entrants to take home the top prize of $41,600. Joining him at the final table were Team PokerStars Online George “Jorj95” Lind (8th, $5,120), Pat Pezzin (6th, $7,040), Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer (4th, $12,800), and James “Andy McLEOD” Obst (3rd, $19,200).
In the end, Deeb found himself heads up with ”TheMuppet”, who had a slight chip advantage. Initially, TheMuppet extended the lead, but eventually Deeb came roaring back to win his second career SCOOP watch.
Three days later, Deeb took down SCOOP 19-H $2,000 Triple Stud ($50K Guaranteed). Deeb was second in chips entering the final table, trailing only Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov, and eventually the two were three-handed with British pro Stephen “stevie444” Chidwick tagging along. Despite having Deeb out-chipped, both Chidwick and Katchalov were willing to make a deal that would’ve paid Deeb more than the value of his chip stack. Deeb turned it down however, and three hours later, he had every single chip.
With the win, Deeb joins Calvin “cal42688” Anderson as the only two players with three career SCOOP watches. More importantly, Deeb continues to master mixed games, which sets him apart from basically every other young online poker player. Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard various players say — in one way or another — that no-limit hold’em is “solved.” There are so many standard plays, and so many people understand these standard plays, that the edge in the game is becoming thinner and thinner. Conversely, very few people are playing stud variants, and when they do, they rarely have a discernible edge over their opponents.
Poker, like many things, is cyclical. Once upon a time, five-card draw was the most popular game played. You’d be hard-pressed to find a dozen casinos in the country that will spread five-card draw for you today, that is unless you’re a whale or a high roller. The game is restricted to home games and a few tables online. That’s it. No-limit hold’em will continue to be the most popular game for a long time, but the gap between hold’em and Omaha is closing before our eyes. Soon, the stud variants will catch up as well.
The best poker players adapt, and drift to where the soft money is. Deeb has been grinding mixed games at the Aria for many months now, and it’s clearly paying off. Along with his two recent SCOOP victories, Deeb finished fourth in the six-handed 10-game event at the 2011 World Series of Poker. Don’t be surprised if you see him at another non-hold’em final table this summer.
The WSOP held its annual conference call last week, and during the one-hour presentation, both Executive Director Ty Stewart, and Tournament Director Jack Effel discussed a few rule changes. On Monday, the 2012 rule book was published online, so here are the new rules word-for-word.
There have been special exceptions made for Rule 104, which previously stated that players may not, “disclose the contents of live or folded hands, advise or criticize play at any time, read a hand that hasn’t been tabled, or discuss strategy with an outside source.” The exceptions are as follows:
”A participant is allowed to mention the strength of his/her hand if no other Participant in the hand will have a decision to make.
In heads-up events, or when down to the last two Participants in a Tournament, Participants may speak freely regarding the contents of their hands
The Floor Person reserves the right to use his/her judgment to determine if one Participant intentionally helped another participant. Participants who violate this rule are subject to penalty in accordance with Rules 39, 102, and 103”
As a group, these exceptions should be named the Negreanu Exceptions, because for years, Daniel Negreanu has argued that player should be able to speak freely — as long as they’re not colluding. We can also agree that the second exception should be named the Heinz-Staszko Exception, because when Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko played heads up for the 2011 Main Event bracelet, not a single word was spoken, and the entire East Coast fell asleep. Stewart, Effel and the WSOP board are very aware that they need to make poker as entertaining as possible, and they hope that these new rule changes will entice players to chat a little more on the felt.
Speaking of celebration, if you go to the rules page, hit command+f ,then type “celebration,” you will receive 0 matches. That’s because Rule 46 is no longer recognized, meaning if you want to scream “bulldozer” after winning a hand, then go right ahead. On the conference call, Stewart explained that as long as you’re not knocking down chairs, needling players or causing disruption, then the WSOP staff wants you to be excited.
“The poker room is not a church,” Stewart explained.
I fully support these new changes, but there is a third major change that is going to anger a lot of players. Rule 88, which basically states that verbal declarations are binding — now states this at the end:
”Participants at all bracelet event final and feature tables are required to verbalize each action in the form of “Check”, “Bet” or specific amount, “Call”, “Raise”, or “All-in.” Violators will receive a penalty in accordance with Rules 39, 102, and 103.”
Effel explained on ESPN’s The Poker Edge podcast that the best players will adapt to this rule, but even if they do, they wont do so willingly or happily. I understand that there is a need to make poker more entertaining, but this rule directly affects the action. Showing the hole cards on a 15-minute delay does not affect hands while they are in progress, rather it affects the long-term meta-game. Forcing a player to verbalize their actions, when they otherwise wouldn’t do so, changes the way they approach the game on the most basic level.
The WSOP almost hit a grand slam with these new rules — the table talk and the celebrations will surely make the game more entertaining — but forcing every player at every final table to verbalize their actions reduces the changes to a ground-rule double.
3. TwoPlusTwo returns
TwoPlusTwo made an anti-climatic return on Friday night, when Mason Malmuth published a thread titled “The Official 2+2 Return Musical Celebration Thread.” Ironically, the music video he embedded (Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good) still doesn’t work.
Take a second, and reflect back upon those 16 days without the forums. Done? What was it like? Personally I hit the “TwoPlusTwo” tab on my browser once a day, but I didn’t find myself yearning to sift through the trolling and flaming, just to find a few informative posts by a moderators or “Pooh-Bahs.” Perhaps it’s because my spectrum is limited to “News, Views, and Gossip,” but isn’t that the most popular forum?
The community as a whole is of course invaluable though. News frequently breaks on TwoPlusTwo because it’s the fastest way to reach a broad audience of poker players — and you don’t really have to fact check before submitting a post. And, while we’ve all proven we can live without, I’m sure that there are thousands of people that are very happy that TwoPlusTwo is back up and running.
Especially everyone who’s trying to sell packages for the 2012 WSOP — the “Marketplace” is very much abuzz right now.
4. Return of the Micros
John Wray the creator of The Micros, was one of the many people affected by the TwoPlusTwo blackout, but instead of complain on Twitter, he decided to grind in Photoshop. Until the show can find a permanent sponsor, Wray plans to release web comics, and the first one features ESPN commentators Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.
Wray is without a doubt one of the most creative contributors to the forum, and the community has openly embraced The Micros. This past summer, ESPN aired a short clip of Max Rofls and Chase Berger watching Max Heinzelmann (who looks just like Rofls) when he was at the feature table. McEachern was especially pleased to add content from The Micros the broadcast, and has openly supported the show on his Twitter account.
The Micros is undoubtedly the most entertaining spinoff about poker — most of the shows and clothing apparel about poker are pretty lame — and hopefully they’ll find a sponsor soon. Even better, maybe either Wray or co-writer Jay Rosenkrantz can muster up some run-good of their own and bink a tournament to bankroll themselves.
5. Terrence Chan
Terrence Chan was the latest subject of our Seat Open series. He talks about how poker shaped who he is today, and how he got involved with a major online poker site during its infancy.
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