Friday, March 04, 2011

Survivor Thoughts

Don't forget that the first event of Survivor Poker: Donkey Island with the two teams merged down into one will be the Goat this Sunday, which will be back as the $1 rebuy extravaganza that it was before taking a quick $5 multi-entry spell in this past Sunday's festivities. With the teams set to merge and move into the second phase of what I am sure will only become more and more interesting and fun as it goes along, I thought I would take some time on a Friday and post some quickie thoughts I have or reactions I have to others' posts about the game.

For starters, I want to make the point that I am pleased that we seem to have at least one other person out there -- in this case, Jordan -- who gets it when it comes to the eliminations in this game. I mean, it's Survivor, folks. The whole point of the game is to make alliances with people to ensure your own survival until...well...until you have to dick the other person over to preserve yourself. It sounds selfish, but it's not -- it's the whole point of the game! Even though most of the eliminations so far seem to have involved a fair amount of lying and backstabbery, in the end getting all bent out of shape because some other person or person stabbed your back, thereby not letting you survive until you could stab their back which you would necessarily by definition be looking to do, just makes no sense at all. Yes, I can speak from personal experience that it really kind of stings in the moment when you keep hearing your name called as the votes are being counted, even when your entire team had already promised you they would be voting for someone else, but give it a short time and you will hopefully see it for what this is -- a bunch of people trying to play at its heart a selfish game as best as they can. And ultimately it's nothing more than that -- just a game -- and personally I haven't seen anything so far that makes me think there is anything sinister or dick about the decisions that have been made at all. It's just people jockeying for position among their teams -- and now the group at large -- and all trying to do what they think will help them -- individually -- best to win in the end. So kudos to Jordan for rolling with his surprise elimination the other day, as is clearly the only way to be.

Secondly, in his parting post as his submarine was leaving Donkey Island, Jordan made a number of recommendations for how to improve the Survivor Poker experience the next time around, and I thought I would react to those as well as chipping in with some of my own thoughts on this point.

For starters, I want to voice my complete and 100% agreement with Jordan's feeling that the longest-lasting member of the losing team should win individual immunity from that night's vote. Actually, let me clarify that somewhat -- I actually think the individual immunity bounties added to the Donkey Island experience so far during team play, and I probably would not have changed that situation much to be honest. However -- and this is something that I would not at all wait until Survivor Poker II to change, but rather would enact right now, prior to the merged teams begin play on Sunday night -- but now with the teams merged as one and ten players fighting it out each week, I don't see how this goes on without the longest-lasting surviving member in each tournament automatically winning individual immunity for that tournament. I know so far the vote-offs indicate a real desire of those still involved to take the poker skill out of the equation, but poker is after all a quantitative endeavor, and poker tournaments are by definition comparative and combative, and I just think it is obscene to think that someone could outlast everyone else and then get voted out that night. Although personally I would prefer the longest-lasting of the remaining players to win immunity, at an absolute minimum, if someone outright wins that night's tournament, for them to be subject to a vote-off just sticks a finger right in the eye of the poker aspects of this endeavor. I think, if we're going to have this be Survivor Poker, then the only responsible thing to do is to award immunity each week -- at least for the next several tournaments while we still have a nice big group to choose the next dickoveree from -- to the person who outlasts all others in each of the private games that are part of the challenge. Not only is this only fair in any sense of the word as I see it, but I know this would make the games themselves more important and thus ultimately more exciting for everyone involved. Make everyone play their best poker in each one of these tournaments in order to ensure their own survival. It just has to be, and it's a rule I am hoping that Buddy and Goat will announce heading into Sunday night's action at the Goat.

Jordan also suggested moving up the start times for our tournaments. This is an interesting one, because for one thing, tournaments like the Mookie have always been running at 10pm ET, although I have to admit that, like Jordan, in my old age what used to seem like a perfectly acceptable start time now seems every week like a requirement to stay up way too late and be way too tired for work in the morning. That said, personally I do not think we need to change the start time of the Dank just for Survivor Poker, in particular if the West Coasters in the group are going to miss the tournaments due to timing issues relating to having to get home from work, get settled, etc. all before a 6pm ET start time (if we were to move the Dank from 10pm to 9pm ET). I would be willing to stay up until 1am every Wednesday for a few more weeks in order to keep the Buddy where it is and allow the West Coasters to get home on a work day. That being said, I am in violent agreement with Jordan once again, when it comes to the Sunday night tournament. I know Goat was kind enough to start his weekly event at 9:30pm instead of 10pm ET, and under normal circumstances that extra half an hour might be just enough of a tweak to make the timing work better for us New Yorkers. My issue here is that the Sunday events run longer than the Buddy's, because so far they have either been a monkey rebuy or a multi-entry tournament, each of which leads to longer start times due to the rebuy aspects, and plus they also lead to much larger stacks for the players, which itself even makes the later stages of the tournament last longer than they otherwise would. The end result is that, on what is essentially a work night, us East Coasters are finding ourselves staying up until 1am or later on these Sundays just to finish out our run and fight as hard as we can for our teams or, now, hopefully for individual immunity as well. If we are going to continue with the longer-form formats like multi-entry and rebuys for The Goat, then I would suggest a 9pm ET start time for those events -- it's a Sunday, so there should not be much of an issue with people making it home from work, and over just a few more weeks it hopefully would not be a huge burden on anyone from the Left Coast to make it in time to play the first hour fairly well. We've had plenty of regular blogger tournaments at 9pm ET and the time seems to work well for everyone -- lest I remind everyone that back in the day, the ole' WWdN on pokerstars used to start at 8:30pm ET, and regularly pulled in well over 100 players. So people can make themselves available for a 9pm ET start time, and Sunday is a great day to do that based on its weekend status and the fact that our Sunday games have thus far been structured to run a little longer than the Wednesday night Dank tournaments in any event.

Jordan also commented generally that he thinks the $1 rebuy format is not a good one to retain. Not sure I can agree with him there -- although, interestingly, I agree with his general analysis of this particular game as a total donkfest that encourages bad players to make bad plays and then suck out. That's clearly what it is, we see it acted out over and over again every time we get together to play a $1 rebuy format, and there's just no debating that that is exactly what goes down during Monkey Hour in this thing. But I'm just not sure I agree that we should therefore get rid of it. In a post chock full of good ideas from Jordan, this is the one I am not sure I understand the logic of. I'm not saying I would personally select a $1 rebuy format for this event if I were in charge, but frankly, I kind of like the rebuy format in general -- in particular if the time is moved up an hour more, and the rebuy hour kept to 30 minutes as in the second Goat tournament on Donkey Island a couple of weeks back, and I certainly don't question Goat's decision to go with it. I could see, however, bumping it up a little from the minuscule $1 buyin to something more like $5 for the rebuy maybe, but frankly I kind of like the rebuy format, and I certainly don't see something so wrong with it as to question Goat's judgment on what game to bring to the table for his Sundays.

But I do once again agree with Jordan's last piece of advice, which was to keep things interesting with new twists. Frankly I think Buddy has done a great job of doing that so far, and I am looking for this to continue as we head into "Merged Play" now that the teams are done for. I understand that this is something the show itself does very well as a rule, and I would look for more of the same from Buddy et al over the ensuing few weeks. And, as someone who has been eliminated from the game already but who remains highly interested in not only the outcome but in the game play along the way to get us there, let me also mention that I am hopeful that Buddy and his crew can find some ways to get the Council more involved in some of these games -- be it through continued individual immunity bounties, team play linking a particular surviving player with a particular already-eliminated player and adding up their scores to see who gets that week's individual immunity, etc. Perhaps the Council could vote on the format or the gimmicks for some of the later tournaments? Maybe some of the other tournament formats available on full tilt -- multi-entry, bounties, heads-up, etc. -- could be integrated into the game in some fun way? It would be cool when down to 3 or 4 players left, if they had to win a best-of heads-up series or something to determine who is in and/or who is out? I don't know how all of this would work exactly, but the specifics were never my area of expertise. The suggestions and the improvement is my area of expertise, and as you know I am never short on those, so those are some thoughts I have to help keep the series fresh as we move into the second phase of the game.

Lastly, I wanted to say that one trend that has become clear with the elimination votes so far -- and that I think probably speaks volumes about who might be targeted for a vote-off next -- but that I have not seen mentioned anywhere is that a lot of the people being voted off seem to be those among the participants with the most "pomp" on their blogs. Now, I'm using the word "pomp" very loosely here, in the sense of "pomposity" -- that is, the blogs that come off as being written the most pompously. Now, this is of course not meant as an insult to anyone, because lord knows nobody's fits that bill better than my own, but suffice it to say that I would categorize both Numb, myself and Jordan at least somewhat in that category. Any one of our blogs over time could easily be the place where you go and read a rant about some other d-bag's bad play against us, or a lengthy post describing how we played such great poker at such-and-such tournament recently, or even something like actually presuming to make recommendations to help improve Survivor Poker, that has been going so well already on its own without our "help". But I can't help but notice that those people with blogs like this have not fared so well on Donkey Island so far, and I would not be shocked if that continues now that the teams are merged. There aren't many left, but there are at least one or two people remaining whose blogs you can go to right now and you can read some things in the recent archives that simply reek of pomp. I would not be the least bit shocked to see those people's time on Donkey Island coming to an end shortly.

So what do people think? Will the next elimination be one of the former Team Fishees, with the 6-4 majority of former Team Donkeyites enforcing their will over their newly-merged competitors? Or will the Donkeys relish in booting off Jordan the other day, and take the opportunity to join with the surviving Fish members to continue to clean out their own house? Only one way to find out live as it happens -- play the Goat on Sunday night at 9:30pm ET on full tilt (password is "survive"), and tune in to Buddy Dank Radio, including after the end of the tournament when Buddy has done an exceedingly good job of building the suspense as he reads out the votes and announces the latest elimination from Survivor Poker.

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Blogger The Poker Meister said...

Agreed on the whole time thing, but I understand the impacts on west coasters. I can imagine that 6:00PM vs. 7:00PM is a big difference to them, no doubt. Having the Dank start at 9EST is far more convenient to me (kids are in bed for an hour already, I wouldn't have to stay up to 1am, etc.), but I, unlike you, find myself donking off later in the tournament because the overall stakes are not meaningful - I'm more in it for the good time / chat rather than the $$$. When it's bedtime, I don't really care whether I'm in first or last on the final table, I'm going to bed when my cash session is done. As a sidebar, perhaps I need to change that thought process; I rise to the occasion when it's the TOC / WBCOOP / etc., where there's more significant $$$, but if it's just a normal Wednesday night game, it's almost like a home game to me.

As far as the overall buy in stakes, though, I'd say that $1 rebuy is a subjective amount. That $1 is a lot more meaningful to someone with an online bankroll of $50-100 than to you. If you make the stakes $5 instead, then a person with the larger bankroll clearly has a huge advantage.

Though I've never played the Sunday rebuy, I get the feeling from reading the blogs that the tournament is not intended to be a money maker for the winner, but more so an ego boost / brag. To me, I treat the Mookie / Dank the same way as such.

4:13 AM  

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