Monday, July 2, 2012

one for the record books...or not

While there have been a lot of really interesting stories in the 2012 WSOP -- Ivey's five final tables in 12 days, Hellmuth's 12th bracelet, Grinder's second 50k victory, the OneDrop event -- one of the minor (very minor) subplots that has been talked about is whether or not I would break the WSOP single-season cash record of ten, held by the late Nikolai Evdakov. As of now, the lead belongs to another Russian named Konstantin Puchkov, who overtook me when he cashed the $5000 NL and I didn't. Puchkov is now tied for the record with 10 cashes, with me and Joe Tehan behind him at nine.

But most people were following my ascent, in part because they know me and don't know Puchkov, but mostly because from the conclusion of the first event and up until a week ago, I started every day either leading or tied for the lead. "So what'd you cash in today," became a common half-joke, half-inquiry among the WSOP regulars. It was frustrating because none of the cashes were significant: zero final tables, and no cashes over $20000. I would trade happily trade all nine cashes for a third place finish in some random $1500 event.

And besides, "most cashes" is certainly a nit record. Serious poker players don't play for cashes. Players have been regularly ribbing me, calling me "Chainsaw", or "Cousineau", referencing a pair of notorious min-cashers. In most of the cashes, I've amassed a lot of chips, but there was also the $1500 PLO8 where I cashed with 3/4 of a big blind. In any case, I'm pretty sure that my run at the record hasn't affected my play in any way; I've still played to maximize my equity (which usually means maximizing my chance of winning the tournament).

The more interesting question is whether it has affected the number and types of tournaments that I've entered. I feel that I have probably entered more $1000 and $1500 NL "donkaments" than I traditionally have, but this is probably a good thing: these are among the highest value events in the series. I have however skipped a number of tournaments either because I felt I wasn't a favourite, or simply because I just wasn't feeling up to playing.

It feels silly to me to care about this record. It's not a record that anyone good actually respects. It's not a record I'd be particularly proud to have. But I suppose it'd be something. I imagine it'd fall under the category of, "sorta neat, I suppose."

If I needed 11+ cashes to hold the all-time record as something to show that I made my mark on the WSOP, then that says something about me, and something I'm not a big fan of. Poker pros aren't supposed to care about such things. We're supposed to care about money, not legacies or stats. We make fun of Phil Hellmuth because he can't stop reminding the world that he is a 10-, 11- and now 12-time "World Champion".  Records and the narratives that surround them are stuff for the media, not the players.  
I certainly wasn't planning this for the 2012 WSOP. As I've written before, most of the fun of the WSOP for me is actually hanging out with friends, but due to playing a monstrous number of hours (for me) in the tournaments, I haven't done all that much of that. In spite of the gentle ribbing, a lot of people have encouraged me to really go for the record. The series is starting to wrap up, and I'll play all the NL tournaments the rest of the way, including the 10k 6-max, but I'm not confident enough to think that I'm a significant favourite in the 3k PLO8 or the 10k NL deuce. If I really, desperately wanted the cashes title, I suppose I would put those events on my schedule. But thankfully my ego isn't that fragile.


  1. I'm not sure how I feel about this namespace collision here, but now I finally understand your poker friends' amusement at my name :).

  2. Hey Terrence

    I want to start off by saying what a big fan I am of you.Both the way you play the game and the way you are with social media.Your tweets are always witty and entertaining.Most of all,I love how you have such good balance in your life(the martial arts,nutrition,active blogging).I feel it's something that's fundamental and extremely rare in the lifestyle of the modern day poker professional.

    I do however have a small grievance with you.You have this knack of 'covering yourself' for lack of a better term.You build something up so that if it comes to fruition you get to experienced an almost enhanced glory,but if things dont work out you simply play it down.In the early/middle stages of the series,you made it clear that the 'cash record' was a big goal for you,and something you were actively pursuing.All of a sudden it's somewhat out of reach and now it's a nit record,and not one that anyone good respects.You even go as far as to say "it's not a record i'd be particularly proud to have". Whether this is true or not,it clearly wasn't your view when you were leading the cashes tally,or when you folded to three quarters of a blind in the PLO 8 tourney.

    You doing the same thing with this 1k tourney and your grappling competition.You're going to try your heart out in the tourney,if you bust,you and everyone forgets about it and focuses on the grappling comp.And vice versa if you make day 3.With regards to the grappling,if you do well you're a hero for doing so without much training,but if you don't do well I'm sure you'll highlight the condition you're in and your lack of training(like you have already).I know I'm somewhat clutching at straws,I'm just trying to emphasize my point from the above paragraph.

    I probably wouldn't have gone on this rant if you'd simply acknowledged Konstantin Puchkov in a bigger way.Not only did the guy tie the record,but he got a couple big results,unlike you and Joe who's resume was comprised mainly of min cashes.What makes it even more admirable is that he got it idone quietly,while you and Tehan were boasting about your tally at every opportunity you got.The guy may not look like a shark,but he's a great white,and has earned my respect in a big way.

    Good luck for the main event and the grappling comp,will be rooting for you...

    Jarred Solomon