The World Championship of Online Poker has been taking place over the past few weeks at PokerStars, and has paid out a staggering amount of cash to the thousands of players involved. In the recent $10,000 8-Game Championship Event, there was more than just money on the line as controversy erupted over a player’s actions, with fuel being added to the fire by famous poker pro Daniel Negreanu.
The 8-Game event is so-named because rather than just one form of poker, eight different kinds are played, ranging from games like Limit Razz to Pot Limit Omaha. The games cycle through, changing every fifteen minutes, and of course some players have games in which they’re stronger and others in which they’re weaker.
One particular player, kirbynator, definitely felt that he had a weakness in Limit Triple Draw 2-7, and was doing everything within his power and the rulebook to compensate for that weakness. During the 2-7 segments of the game, he would take his entire allowed time for decisions, thus meaning he had to play less hands, and play less blinds, over the course of the fifteen minutes dedicated to a game he did not feel comfortable with.
Poker sensation Daniel Negreanu was also playing in the tournament, and had strong objections to this tactic. “Karma always wins in the end,” he said, going on to add, “In my book, you are a straight up angle shooter”. There was no argument from kirbynator about his stalling, and in fact he freely admitted to the stalling. It’s not against tournament rules to do so, however, and kirbynator explained that his entry to the high roller event was subsidized by a number of backers who wanted him to stall during the 2-7, as they knew it was his weakest game and wanted the highest return on their investment.
While he happily agreed not to do it in the future, kirbynator pointed out that it happens frequently in Mixed Game tournaments, and said that he couldn’t go back on his word to the people backing him during this tournament, telling Negreanu, “I’d rather make money for people trusting me than be politically correct with better rich players.” This controversy raises interesting questions about whether the practice is morally okay or not, and indeed whether some kind of rule change is needed if it is determined to be an unfair method of playing Mixed Game Tournaments. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with kirbynator or with Daniel Negreanu, and if the latter can you see any way to prevent similar strategies being used in the future?