Monday, October 24, 2011

Finally, The Crest Of The Poker Wave?

I was walking though Harvey's Tahoe this morning, so many hours and miles ago, at an ungodly early hour, and took a last longing look over at the poker room... and yes, even in the dawning hours when you should be sleeping, working out, eating a very early breakfast or preparing to atone, there was still one table going.

And it's more of a matter of there just being one table that makes me wonder.

In the time that I was at the table on Friday night, people were talking about the upcoming WSOP event, but without any great enthusiasm. The dealers were also talking to the regulars about dealer layoffs, and smaller tournaments, and an overall loss of action. In retrospect, I think this is why people were so friendly at my table; I might have been the first piece of fresh meat they'd seen in weeks.

And sure, maybe that's just Tahoe. It's off-season there, without the usual snowbird crowds of dumb kid trustafarian money, and this is a part of the world where the Internet probably never took that much hold, seeing how outside is just awfully damn compelling. Every brick and mortar on the East Coast that I've been to this year has been jumping with people, and while the home game is starting to slip from its three table heyday, it's hard to think that this is indicative of some larger movement.

And yet.

Every wave has to decay at some point, doesn't it?

The super-aggro play of the Internet Kidz isn't catching anyone by surprise anymore, and there's only so long that you can play like that, I think, before you go broke or crazy or pro, and very few people are going to get to the last one. The end of online has to hurt the popularity at some point; less opportunity to game is just less mindshare for game, and fewer new players being brought into the mix. If there are fewer new players, there's less dumb money, and less dumb money means less meat for the rest of the ecosystem. There's a lot less poker on television anymore, and what is on just doesn't seem all that important, if it ever was. When the WSOP is a bunch of 20-something fast twitchers who are more or less devoid of personality, that's got to hurt.

Eventually, all things go down.

Until, of course, your state and federal government finally come to their senses, legalize and legislate and tax tax tax it, and create a playing field where payouts are secure, play is sanctioned, and games and levels are more or less streamlined.

It's the only logical thing to do, right? Then again, you could have said the same thing about legalizing marijuana for the tax advantages, too.

Oh, and by the way? If poker going down means less shove and hopers giving me no hope of managing my bankroll with a sense of sanity at my local palace of sin...

And less money in the lives of human trainwrecks like Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow and Annie Duke...

And a better overall sense of balance and understanding that this is vice, and nothing more than that...

Well, down poker down, says I. And probably you too, really.

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