Monday, August 16, 2010

BBT, Can It Be?

Did I hear correctly this weekend that all three people who won the WSOP Main Event prize package in the BBT5 this past spring all took the $T on full tilt instead of playing in the Main Event?

Do people even want there to be more BBTs and more free stuff for us?

I mean, can this even be possible?

The best part about this is that people blew their effing tops for days on end when Al first announced earlier this year that the BBT Invitational was going to be just that -- an invitational -- extended only to those people that full tilt felt were a good gamble to actually use the money they graciously hand out to ungrateful bloggers every year to actually play in the actual World Series of Poker. Full tilt wanted the invitational because in the past people just would not use full tilt's funds to play in poker tournaments. They also wouldn't blog about the tournaments, even the few times when past BBT winners did actually play in the events they won prize packages to in the BBT.

One of the things I always try to teach my kids and the others around me is ownership of your decisions. If I decide to take a big risk and willingly don't use my seat belt whenever I drive 5 miles or less from my house, then you won't hear me complaining that my car was unsafe when I do get into an accident close to home and suffer worse injuries than I would have if I had chosen to wear the belt. If I decide I'm going to make a bunch of flagrantly racist or homophobic remarks in front of mixed company, then you won't hear me getting mad at someone who gives me legitimate crap for what I said being hateful and bigoted. And it's just as true in a poker context by the way -- if I decide I'm going to try to get it allin preflop automatically any time I find a pocket pair 66 or higher, and I do just that by pushing in 100 big blinds early in a big tournament and I lose a race to AK or AQ, you won't hear me complaining. I make a decision, and then I own that decision, for better or worse. This notion of personal responsibility is one of my defining qualities and something I focus on regularly, be it at the poker table or the table of life.

All of you people who gave Al endless, interminable shit for what was originally I think only around 50-60 players in the first BBT5 Invitational, you as a group need to learn to own your own decisions. It's gone on for years at this point, and I personally cannot believe it. We're bloggers for crying out loud, and the only reason full tilt ever came to us with prizes the first time around was for the marketing possibilities of paying for bloggers to play in and write about the biggest poker tournaments in the world. Instead, we as a group have repeatedly, consistently -- for several years now, amazingly -- given a huge, fat middle finger to full tilt and made them sorrier and sorrier each year about the money they have largely wasted on the BBT winners. Shit, bloggers have even won the money from full tilt in the BBT, and gone to Vegas and played with that money, and they still don't blog about it, not one whit! And don't get me wrong, I'm not judging anyone for any decisions they have made with respect to money won from full tilt or any online poker site -- but you're damn right I am judging those people for not using the money they won, and then for complaining to Al that they were not included in the Invitational the next time the BBT comes around.

Own. Your. Decisions.

If there is ever another BBT tournament series, full tilt should definitely, obviously, undeniably use an invitational format, at least for a big part of the determination of who wins the WSOP prize packages. And most of the hypocritical whining we'll inevitably see about it don't even deserve the time of day. Dickheads will post on their blog about not being included in the Invitiational like it's their job, but damn when they actually win the money, they and their blogs just vanish like a fart in the wind.

Without a doubt this is one of the most pathetic aspects of poker bloggers today.

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Blogger edgie212 said...

Well, as an avid reader of your blog, but also someone who did send Al a note of concern about how the invites were doled out (I did ask, and did eventually receive one), I hope you do understand that there ARE indeed some folks out there who blogged, asked nicely for an invite, and would have taken the money to Vegas AND written about it. I'm not implying that your post was a sweeping generalization, I'm simply hoping that you remember us honest folk.

5:41 AM  
Blogger Mondogarage said...

edgie212 makes a great point. Really, if anything, this is only a black mark on the three seat winners, not the broader community, for the winners weren't acting on anyone's behalf other than their own (nor should they have been expected to do so).

That said, there were still plenty of poker bloggers never invited, and there's no telling how many of them would have played the main event if they had won.

6:24 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

It's definitely an unfortunate trend. The what if? game is a dicey game to play, but I do like to think a large percentage of the blogger community would have opted to play in the ME.

That said, Al and FTP can send the invites to whomever they want, and they don't really have to answer to those who didn't get invites. I will say that an invite list should probably be closer to 100 than 50, if one looks over the history of the blogger tournaments over the past five years.


7:47 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Obviously I'm not making any generalizations as you point out, and again I am not in the least attacking anyone's decision what to do or not do with that money, nor am I judging anyone for whatever they have done.

That said, calling this just a
"black mark" on a couple of individuals denies what has happened for years with the BBT. It's a blatant trend, and it is obvious that a large number of bloggers who play the BBT would never actually play the WSOP when push comes to shove. It's not debatable, nor is the fact that a large percentage of the people who say they would play in the WSOP would actually not when push comes to shove. We've seen that year in and year out in the BBT.

Anyways, again I'm not complaining about these decisions. I am complaining about people complaining about an invitational format and then year in and year out with basically zero exceptions, the grand prize winners just take the money and run. It is sad, really.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Loretta8 said...

I can't believe I'm about to say this: Hoyazo is actually right. It's one thing to not play, but to not even blog about it really annoys me, which happened this year.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

I'd like to point out that at least 1 of the 3 winners had a pretty legitimate reason for not going. I can't argue with JJOK for putting the health of his wife and welfare of his family ahead of the WSOP. Nobody can expect him to say "sorry hun! I know you're going through hell but you see, the bloggers are counting on me!"

As for the others? No clue. I get that $10k is a lot of money to suddenly have, but you could at least take SOME of that cash and play something. A $1k donkament + expenses and you'd still have over $8k to spend on your family/car/hooker/whatever.

I know I'd have taken my shot.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Astin said...

One more thing - it's not only a slap in the face to Al and Full Tilt, but to the rest of us who played and didn't win.

If there's ever a next time, FT should hand Al the checks for $10k and tell the winners they're waiting in Vegas for them.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Loretta8 said...

although I will say that a lot of this is Full Tilt's own fault for not more actively helping the winners get to Vegas. When I won my seat, they just put 10k into my account and never contacted me again; I had to pay for all my own expenses and it was also very difficult to get that much money off the site quickly. It's hard to fault someone who has a family to support for not playing.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

For the record, obviously JJ's situation was/is serious to the point that nobody in their right mind would be thinking about jetting off to the desert for a week to play a poker tournament. That goes without saying.

And, for what it's worth, I am sure that everyone else who has kept the money has had a legitimate reason for doing so. As if "my family desperately needs the cash for X" isn't inherently an acceptable reason for any choice anyone makes with what is ultimately their money.

All this is why I try to make the point here that I am not even remotely judging anybody for any decision they have made with respect to money won from full tilt with any BBT we have run. This isn't about judging or criticizing the people who won the grand prize money and then didn't use it, at least for me it isn't.

It is, however, about how those people can complain about an Invitational format for the BBT -- a whole structure that I can assure you nobody involved with the BBT actually wants, but which full tilt pushed for because of this very problem 100% of our (bloggers') own creation, that people were winning WSOP money and then not playing in (or blogging about) the WSOP -- and then turn around and once again not use the money when full tilt graciously and generously doles it out to us.

To think that this year (and in past years, for that matter), some of the BBT prize winners actually went out to Vegas and played in tournaments with the money, and still never blogged about it....well, it's just a massive F You to full tilt whether people like to admit it or not. Nobody should even consider saying boo to Al last year, this year or any other year that full tilt wants to try to restrict the BBT at least in some ways to only those people it believes will actually give them their money's worth for the thousands upon thousands of dollars they have chipped in for us over time.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Oh and about the issues of getting people to Vegas or just giving them the money there, we can thank the UIGEA for that turn of events. When I first won a WSOP package from full tilt back in 2006, it was just as Astin suggested. My name went on a list, and they didn't even get a check printed up -- I just had to meet them out in the full tilt hospitality suite at the WSOP itself, and they handed me my money in Harrah's tournament buyin chips, right there in the casino about 25 feet away from the line to register for the WSOP.

When UIGEA was passed, however, that was when all the online sites decided on a dime that they needed to cut ties with any process that makes is seem like they are promoting or encouraging (read: "aiding and abetting") their players to win money at online poker, withdraw it from the site and then use it to play at a live tournament in the United States. I'm not sure I ever quite understood the thinking on that, but I can tell you as someone who won WSOP money from full tilt in 2006 and 2007, the change from one year to the next was noticeable. In 2006, pre-UIGEA, I just picked up cash from full tilt right at the WSOP. By 2007 post-UIGEA, not a single of the major online poker sites even had a hospitality suite on Harrahs / Rio property, and the funds were simply placed into people's full tilt account when won, and then that was it. If you were lucky they sent you a donkey shirt or something but that was it as far as helping you get out to Vegas once you won the satellite.

10:57 PM  
Blogger jjok said...

I feel guilty and still do.

I had every intention to play this year, and there was no way I could have after what happened in June......I even had it cleared through work amidst project hell....and scheduled flights to get out there.

That being said.....

I agree with an invitational and DO NOT expect an invite based on the last 2 years.

I was vocal against the invitational format when I thought I wasn't invited this year but looking back, I think it's the right thing to do.

11:49 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hopefully I have done a good enough job explaining myself that you (JJ) do not feel the need to apologize, feel guilty, or anything, because I certainly do not think you should in any way, shape or form and there is not a chance in hike that I woud have gone to Vegas facing what you had to deal with this summer and still are dealing with.

That said, I would not question the invitational idea given what we as a group have done to full tilt over the years with the BBT I most definitely would not mind some more clarity and transparency as to how the invites to the invitational were decided upon, but I cannot imagine why full tilt would ever give us more WSOP money again after what happened this year, after what happened last year, after what happened the year before that.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Full Tilt is rich.

JJ is one of the best people (not just bloggers) that I have ever met.

Do you really think they care that much about whether or not someone writes a follow up post regarding their win of a grand prize?

Not everyone has the millions of readers that Hoy does. I doubt Full tilt really cares.

The badge placement and the hopes that people forget to take them down is the strategy I think they may have been going for. A permanent link to their site "free" of charge.

I know I forgot to take mine down for a few months.

Just this thread alone is making them money.

2:06 AM  
Blogger Loretta8 said...

youre right about UIGEA making a big difference, but they still could help bloggers by giving them the $2k in expenses for travel (conditional on them actually traveling of course) like they do for people who win regular packages. The main event packages are worth $12k in normal FTP satellites.

2:16 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Schaubs -- the fact that full tilt was so hot to trot on the Invitational idea this time around tells you all that you need to know about how much full tilt cares. They could give these WSOP packages away to professional poker players if having the experience written about publicly (and permanently, just like your badge point) did not matter to them. For that matter they could give the prize packages away at casinos to recreational poker players on the same thinking. They could do some extra marketing and create a new giveaway for the WSOP packages targeted at a whole new non-writing audience. But instead, they choose to give them away to poker bloggers -- the vast, vast majority of whom have never won shiat in any poker tournament worth even thinking about and thus give no reason to believe they will actually win anything or have any real success in the WSOP.

Face it, they want us to blog about the experience. They've been very clear and open about it in fact, so it's not really up for debate at this point. Even if you don't think they care about that, it is still obvious that they do care. Enough to try to help "force" a real blogger to win by trying to keep out the people who are not likely to blog from the Invitational and thus make it more likely to end up with someone who will give full tilt what they want out of this promotion.

Loretta -- I love the idea of them paying for expenses for the travelers out to Vegas who win the prize packages, but I think they are even afraid to do that because of UIGEA concerns. It would be awesome if they could throw in an extra 2k, a free room at the Rio, etc. but only for those who actually travel out to Vegas and play in the WSOP to pick it up. That might actually help incent some people to go and play instead of keeping the money and depriving full tilt of the full value of their marketing dollars.

By the way, anybody who thinks there are 100 poker bloggers in our group who would actually plunk down 10k on the WSOP ME after having that 10k transferred to their full tilt account is stone cold nuts. I used to think that was the right number, but after the cold hard facts of the past several years' worth of BBT winners, it is clear to me at this point that the number is probably somewhere closer to 20 or 30 when push comes to shove. Even the 56 or whatever in the original Invitational list as far as I'm concerned had a number of people who probably would not have played if they had actually won.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

I played 2006 Main Event after winning seat in freeroll and never had the option to touch the money.

Full Tilt paid Harrahs directly.

Wife went over terms and conditions for couple of hours to find way to get money while I looked at it as more of a bucket list item and wanted to play.

Post UIGEA it is at best 50/50 that I could win a seat and play.

I would like to run like Zeus again and find out if I would play ME again.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Heffmike said...

Typical passive aggressive BS from Hoy, even when he has a legitimate point.

Because you never call a spade a spade and really say what you mean, you lump jjok in with NYRambler and Adam27x. Wonderful. Nice backpedal once everyone pointed out his wife's surgery.

How about just spelling out who you think is selling weak sauce instead of making people guess and create a huge comment thread. If I remember right, only jjok won a ToC seat via an Invitational: Rambler and Adam won theirs in the open cash tourneys. So who are you really disappointed with?

Why did people bitch about the invitational format so much? Because there were a lot of players that had regularly played BBT events that were snubbed, and some people that had basically checked out of blogger events that got in, and that didn't seem fair or equitable.

Tournament poker is about everyone starting square and getting a fair shot at the win, not a popularity contest to get that shot to begin with.

The main problem is this - FTP can't make you play for pay or put any prerequisites on the payout - like they did when I won an ME seat in '06 and was bought in directly - all they can do it credit an account 10K and hope you use it at the Rio.

Whether you made it an Invitational or a cash series wouldn't alter the chances of someone just taking the $T - because there's nothing FTP can do about it outside of just not giving away the prizes, period.

Oh, and Loretta wins the thread with actual valid points - as in, have an average blogger, instead of a serious amateur/pro, try to move 10K from FTP to Vegas in a month with no extra spending money - not just the actual withdrawal, but the tax implications and logistical issues. No surprise that the 10K gets pocketed more than not.

You don't think FTP realizes all of this and accepts it as an risk/cost of doing business and marketing? Please.

6:04 AM  
Blogger edgie212 said...

Personally, if I was given the 10K I would go out early and play 3-4 events...more to blog about and more opportunity to sweat me!

Of course, since I goose-egged the BBT this year, I'm being awful idealistic.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Shrike said...

"By the way, anybody who thinks there are 100 poker bloggers in our group who would actually plunk down 10k on the WSOP ME after having that 10k transferred to their full tilt account is stone cold nuts."

I confess, that is *not* an interpretation I meant to encourage when I posted my comment. I shall try to expand on this in a full blog post of my own.


8:49 AM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

Props for waking up the blogger world, but this really is old news.

Heffmike hit the nail on the head regarding the invitational tournaments. Take $50,000 and create an "invitational" where a select group of bloggers, former bloggers, and misc people get a tremendous advantage toward winning that money and sure, people will be unhappy. Nobody wants to be the guy standing on the sidelines, especially when you don't know what the game is and how it is being played.

I cannot speak to Full Tilt's relationship and even degree of concern about all this, but I do know that if I were one of the FT people, I would do everything I could to make sure that I got the most out of this by offering some swag, travel money, etc. I am kind of mystified at what the goals are here, if any are firmly established.

Lastly, timing is an issue. This particular year there was no way I could have gotten time off work during the Main Event. I already knew that if I had won a $10,000 seat that I could not have used it at the Main Event. However, I would have used it for a lower buy-in WSOP event during the time I was already scheduled to be in Las Vegas. Sometimes things are what they are.

The BBT series have been great, warts and all. I thought the format of this last one was good. I hope we have not seen the last of them since we have so few things that actually link the bloggers to each other anymore.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

All I'm saying is that, if there are no more BBTs after this (hopefully there will be), at least there won't be any doubt why that is.

12:58 AM  

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