Goldfarb Bubbles :(

by , Mar 27, 2008 | 6:08 am

… at the World Poker Challenge at the Grand Sierra in Reno, finishing 28th out of 261. Ouch. But not all is lost for the Arizona Posse … Tom may have gone out early on Day 2, but the crew’s other double-bracelet holder Pat Poels is still alive and well — with a slightly below average stack.

Click here to follow the Day 3 action — where because of legally questionable exclusive media deals, you have no choice but to read coverage from a guy who clearly would rather write in a way that reveals he can’t wait to go home (or to the tables, or the bar) as opposed to figuring out the names of fewer than 30 players left in a field?

(If it’s fair to expect NFL television announcers to know every name on two rosters, is it really too much to ask that any “reporters” know every name once a tourney gets below four tables? There are breaks, after all, where you theoretically could go find out what you don’t know by asking someone. But whatever … it’s not Pokerati’s job to bitch about crappy, uninspired coverage just because we happened to have a conversation with someone else about whether or not we have a right to post numbers and letters like the ones below and/or haven’t had our coffee yet this morning.)

And click below to see the starting stacks going in:

1. Jason Potter – 351,700
2. Jordan Rich – 327,900
3. Ron Linden – 301,400
4. Zach Hyman – 298,000
5. Phil Ivey – 286,100
6. Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi – 255,900
7. Chris Back – 244,300
8. David “The Dragon” Pham – 195,100
9. Lee Markholt – 183,700
10. Bryan Devonshire – 182,500
11. Chau Giang – 159,800

AVERAGE – 145,000

12. Erik Seidel – 138,600
13. Brian Green – 134,100
14. Don Dooley – 119,100
15. Pat Poels – 101,300
16. Tim West – 89,300
17. Jamie Robbins – 73,900
18. Steve Conigliaro – 71,800
19. Jonathan Westra – 69,300
20. Jeff DeWitt – 65,500
21. Marty Wong – 56,600
22. Keith Carter – 45,000
23. Jason Gray – 44,600
24. Boriz Zivotov – 34,000
25. Joe LePorre – 34,000
26. Becky Makar – 22,200
27. Stephen Ladowsky – 20,700

17 Comments to “Goldfarb Bubbles :(”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    Card Player hiring from Craig’s List again?

    I have to agree Dan, when I was looking at chip counts with ~40 left, they had about 20-25 names. How hard can it be to figure out who’s left and get their names/chip counts? I’d assume BJ or someone of his stature would be in Reno to help out the “reporters” at Card Player to get names.

    I’d guess BJ would know how long this “exclusive” deal with the WPT will last. At least with Pokernews and the WSOP, you at least get quality reporting.

  2. California Jen

    I think the deal signed between WPT and CardPlayer was for Season 6. If I’m not mistaken, they’ll have to renegotiate or renew the deal for the upcoming Seat 7.

    In BJ’s defense, he’s the lead WPT reporter, but he can’t do everything. He also takes photographs, titles and uploads them, etc.

    I thought the male poker fans were all happy with Kimberly’s random interviews and no longer cared about the facts, statistics, or results. 😉

  3. California Jen

    Oh, and to Robert, sorry! Good job hanging in there but you had to do what you had to do on the bubble.

    To Pat, who I haven’t met yet, GET ‘EM!

  4. Kevin Mathers

    I know he can’t do everything, but I’m sure it helps everyone to have multiple sources out there. Card Player blew their exclusive deal with the WSOP in 06 by getting interns to do reporting.

  5. DanM

    I know who the reporter was — surely it wasn’t BJ — and I’ve been hesitant to name him, or even comment on how bad it was, because after all, is really isn’t nice to go up to a specific individual and say, “hey, you’re not doing a good job!”

    and of course my problem isn’t with his work itself — cardplayer gets what they pay for, and their employees are going to do whatever they’re capable of — but if there’s only going to be one official media, then really, the standards have to be higher. if you go to a baseball game, you can be pretty sure the guy operating the scoreboard is expected to get the names and numbers right, even if he gets flustered because the game suddenly turns into a defensive battle in extra innings.

    maybe not an apt comparison … but i had the privileged glimpse at how these “stats” affect real people while exchanging emails with Robert’s wife during it all. Kinda heartbreaking to see her hoping that the unidentified player who bubbled wasn’t her husband, only to learn later that, yes, indeed, ma’am, we have some unfortunate news …”

    I mean not that it’s a tournament reporter’s responsibility to handle a player’s loved one’s emotions, but it does serve as a reminder that this information and the job of relaying it is important to people, not just google.

  6. California Jen

    I agree that when there are only 30 or 40 players left, every one of them should be identified, as WPT and CardPlayer have the seating charts with all of the names. Earlier in the tournament, it’s nearly impossible.

    The WPT has gotten better about tracking the play once the money bubble bursts. And when they’re down to 1 or 2 tables, they’ve been giving every hand.

    However, PokerNews seemed to really get it right at last year’s WSOP. They assigned one reporter to each group of tables. That reporter took notes and handed the info to another reporter who posted it in the updates. (On the other hand, many of those reporters in the field didn’t know 1/2 of the pros seated.)

    It just seems to me that there are enough reporters at the WPT events – between WPT and CardPlayer staff – to be able to work out a system that is more efficient. I can say this because I’ve been there and done tournament reporting. But I’ll also say that I’m not there now, so my opinions are somewhat removed.

  7. Lisa

    As Robert’s wife… I just want to point out that when an “unnamed player went out” and we were hoping it wasn’t Robert, that it indeed was not Robert. I’m sorry Mr. 29, I don’t know who you were, but I do feel for you.

    Now, Mr. 28, he’s been identified. My Robert.

    And since Dan opened this can of worms, let me put my two cents in here even further.

    How about a dictionary for the roving reporters in the tournament? Here’s an example of my favorite posting.

    On the Live Updates Log (“LUL”) the following was posted:
    “All of the chip counts have just been updated in the chip counts tab.

    Just 29 players now remain with an average stack of 135,000. That’s just two players away from the money!”

    Then, I would anxiously click on the Chip Counts, and they’d have 19 people listed.

    Please don’t use the word ‘all’ if you mean only the ones you can figure out.

    Alright, one more favorite from the postings. I sent this to Dan via email with the subject “new math”.

    “There are currently 99 players at nine, nine-handed tables remaining on day 1.”

  8. DanM

    There there, Lisa, You had a rough day.

  9. Jason

    I mean not that it’s a tournament reporter’s responsibility to handle a player’s loved one’s emotions, but it does serve as a reminder that this information and the job of relaying it is important to people, not just google.

    I think it’s worth noting here that while it might not be the media outlet’s job to worry about how players’ families feel regarding the outlet’s reporting (or lack thereof), the only reason the outlet has access in the first place is because people are interested in the information the outlet is supposed to be providing. In other words, there ain’t a market if there ain’t a product. It might be wise for some of the lesser-motivated/more-intimately-connected outlets to take note of that.

    If anyone out there knows how tough a tournament reporter’s job is, I do. If there are only 40 players left in a tournament and I’m the only one covering the event for my outlet – which was the case for the vast majority of the tourneys I covered – it might be excusable for me to miss a few lesser-known names in the middle of all my other job responsibilities. But if I’m working with even ONE other reporter, it’s poor form for me not to have the full list of remaining players posted.

    if you go to a baseball game, you can be pretty sure the guy operating the scoreboard is expected to get the names and numbers right, even if he gets flustered because the game suddenly turns into a defensive battle in extra innings.

    Actually, it’s more often like the scoreboard operator getting flustered because the batter has been in the minors all year, instead of in the majors and on SportsCenter and on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It’s always the “unknown” guys who get left out. The craziest thing is that in today’s tournament poker world, you can be “unknown” to the media and still be a hugely successful poker player. Kenny Tran is a great example from last year…so is Tom Schneider, really. (Hell, Tom might be “unknown” this summer at the WSOP, depending on how experienced the reporters are!)

  10. BJ Nemeth

    I think a lot of you have been waiting for me to comment on this. I’ve been asked not to discuss anything about the exclusive media deal, but most of you already know the basics of that deal anyway.

    Let me start off by saying that I know Robert Goldfarb. (Not personally, but I recognize him as a player.) And I completely missed him on Day 2 until we got down to the bubble. When I finally noticed him, I felt like total crap, and my first thought was, “There’s gonna be a post on Pokerati about this.”

    I’m not complaining — we deserve to be criticized for this. Robert Goldfarb shouldn’t have been missed, and he was. I sincerely apologize, especially to Robert’s wife, Lisa. I’m sorry.

    Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen again. It’s the nature of covering large tournaments with a constantly changing pool of players. While I know who Robert Goldfarb is, the other people I work with don’t. I pointed him out, but the nature of the business is that you usually don’t remember someone unless they final table or get deep (final 27 or higher) a few times. There are just too many new faces at each and every tournament. (And some familiar faces with new haircuts and different outfits.)

    At what point should every single player in a tournament be covered? Several of you have said 30-40, which I agree is a fair number. The easiest time to start tracking everyone is at the start of a day, when you already have their names and seating assignments, and can take time to draw up your own seating map. Once everyone takes their seats, you immediately go around and take (often inappropriate) notes so you can recognize them later. (“Old guy, red sweater.” “Young kid, bad haircut.” “The only woman.” “Minnesota sweatshirt.” You get the idea.) As players move around and tables break, you just scan your notes to remember the name of the old guy in the red sweater.

    The structure of WPT events is such that at the start of play deep in a tournament you usually have either 75-125 players, or 27. So I have decided that the penultimate day (27 players) is when we will absolutely, positively, cover every single player. To be fair, that’s when the tournament really heats up anyway. If the second-to-last day starts with up to 45 people (five tables), we’ll track all 45. That’s about the limit of what we can reasonably manage without negatively affecting other aspects of the coverage.

    For a variety of reasons, it’s much easier to track 45 players from the start of a day then it is mid-day when the field of 100 drops down to 35-40. It’s a very different circumstance, and I would argue that it’s an inefficient use of our resources to start tracking every player at that point.

    In the case of WPT Reno, if we knew the bubble would last as long as it did, we would have taken the time to get everyone’s name. Also, if the money bubble didn’t also mark the end of the day (like if they were playing down to 18), we would have gotten everyone’s name before the bubble burst. But under the circumstances, I felt it would be better to have our guys watch for big hands, and then just get everyone’s name from the chip bags at the end of the day. Of course, I didn’t realize we were missing someone (Robert) that I should have recognized.

    For the time leading up to the money bubble, I wasn’t out on the floor. (I was taking care of some other responsibilities.) When the bubble continued for so long, I went out into the field to do a post about the short stacks — and that’s when I found Robert. My guys didn’t recognize him, and by the time I did, he was near the felt. I put up a quick post saying he was in danger, and a few minutes later, he was all in and eliminated.

    Having more reporters on a team doesn’t necessarily make this any easier. When I reported by myself, I was still able to give big-hand coverage on the final 27 players. But having two or three reporters doesn’t allow you to double that number — it just doesn’t work that way, because of the division of responsibilities.

    As I said, I can’t discuss too many details, but there is also a lot of time and effort spent doing things that don’t show up in the coverage as “content.” It wasn’t that way a few years ago, but it’s that way now. I’ve worked for several of the major reporting outlets, and I can tell you that our floor reporters are responsible for much more than the reporters at PokerNews, for example. (I’m not suggesting that we work harder or anything like that. But our responsibilities include things that don’t involve tournament updates, and that’s unfortunate.)

    If the casinos and the players really wanted the online reporting to be as good as possible, there are a lot of things they could change to make our jobs easier. Unfortunately, we are pretty much the bottom of the barrel when it comes to priorities, and I accept that. I think we do pretty well under the circumstances.

    For the record, there is absolutely *no* comparison between covering a baseball game or a football game and covering a poker tournament. Baseball writers don’t have random players show up to the game unannounced, and they don’t have to follow them around the bases or track every single pitch, whether it’s a ball or a strike. Football writers don’t have to go out and measure how close the ball is to a first down, and then ask for the name of the guy who made that last tackle. They sit in their nice press area and all of the information is handed to them, along with interesting stats. If an unknown phenom shoots through the minors and makes it to the major leagues unexpectedly, everyone receives a full bio on him before he takes the field, and he even has a number on his back to identify him.

    As for the scoreboard operator, I’ve kept a scorecard during a baseball game. It’s something that you can teach any 10-year-old baseball fan in less than an hour. The action is always in one place — just follow the ball. In a poker tournament, stuff is happening everywhere all at once, and the big hands often don’t reveal themselves until it’s too late.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    Okay, so online coverage sucks, right? Not necessarily. Here’s what I can promise you for the live updates at

    1. Coverage of the big-name pros on Days 1 and 2. Unknown players who contend for the chip lead will usually be added to the coverage after the dinner break on Day 1. We’ll occasionally miss players, and often skip counts for B-list players in the early action, just to keep the chip counts manageable. (It’s better to update 50 players every 45 minutes than 150 players every three hours.)

    2. Official end-of-day chip counts will be posted as quickly as possible. The casinos don’t often release these for hours, but I do my best to get my team out on the floor at the end and get every single name and chip count if possible. If there are too many tables left, we attempt to get the chipleaders and big-name notables so we can at least get a top 10 or top 20 posted. (Our presence on the floor while players bag and tag their chips is an irritant to both the players and the tournament staff, by the way.)

    3. The name of every single player who finishes in the money, what place they finished, and how much money they earned. We won’t always have the details of how they bust, but we’ll get you the official results in a timely fashion, even if it’s just a list of 10 players at a time. (Some of these tourneys pay up to 100 people.)

    4. Complete chip counts and all big hands from the final three tables (27 players). At each break, I personally do an official chip count, down to the last chip, and usually post it by the time the players resume play. If the penultimate day starts with 30-45 players, we will track them all, but it almost always starts with 27.

    5. Complete hand-by-hand coverage of the final two tables (18 players), with periodic approximate chip counts. Official chip counts will still be posted at the breaks.

    6. At the final table, you’ll get every single check, bet, call, raise, and fold, and each hand will be posted within 30 seconds after it’s finished. (Some big hands take 1-2 minutes if I write it more dramatically.) Chip counts will be updated on the chip count page every few hands, and updated in the hand updates every 10-15 hands or so. During each break, I personally go down to the stage and verify the chip counts, along with at least one production person from the WPT. We count them separately in a double-blind test, to reduce errors.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    My boss at the World Poker Tour is a fantastic guy, and he definitely understands the strengths and weaknesses of our online coverage. He is in the field with us, and while he isn’t required to help out, he jumps out on the floor when we’re getting swamped. My point is that he understands how tournament reporting works, unlike most of the bosses for other tournament reporters. He and I often discuss ways in which we can improve the coverage, but there are a lot of factors outside of our control.

    One thing that I am (slowly but successfully) pushing for is a different style of coverage on Days 1 and 2. Instead of random hands from big players at random tables, I’d like to focus on a featured table. I mean *really* focus on it, the way that ESPN does in the early days of their WSOP Main Event coverage. I did a test of this on Day 1 of WPT Reno, and you can read my two featured table updates at these links:

    My point with this is that we are always looking for ways to improve the coverage. But again, not everything is within our control, and there are issues that I am not allowed to discuss.

    Anyone who has ever covered a tournament alongside me will tell you that I definitely bust my ass. I skip breaks to do accurate chip counts. I stick around after play ends to get official chip counts posted in an hour rather than waiting until the casino releases them in the morning. I don’t have to do these things, but I think they’re important. Excellent coverage isn’t because of a lack of desire on my part, or a result of laziness.

    We’ve covered this ground on Pokerati before, both with Tom Schneider and Gregg Merkow. And I’m sure we’ll cover it again some time. I hope I haven’t come across like an asshole, and I definitely support everyone’s right to complain about the coverage. If we’re doing something wrong, I’d like to hear about it and correct it.

    And again, I’m very sorry for missing Robert in the coverage until it was too late. That was my fault, because I’m the one who should have recognized him and made sure he was covered. (I can’t blame our chip counter, because he simply doesn’t know Robert.)

  11. DanM

    BJ, that comment will be far too long for Ed. And you really should be thinking about what will keep Ed happy in all that you do.

    ***where because of legally questionable exclusive media deals, you have no choice but to read ***

    I think I’d like to rescind this comment, however … BJ has me remembering that the WPT is a private television event (like the NBC Heads-up Championship) not a public sporting event (like the WSOP or various Tunica tourneys). I don’t think the media has jack-shit any rights to be in there, and we have no RIGHT to be reading about it as is going on. What the WPT does or does not provide on the internet is simply a marketing choice.

    Flat-out difference between the WPT and WSOP that people sometimes forget.

  12. Lisa

    BJ- Thanks for the explanation. And please, no apology necessary. Dan made it seem like I was positively aflutter with anxiety, a la Scarlett O’Hara.

    When really, I was just being snarky about math mistakes in the commentary and secretly hoping that My Man wasn’t Mr. 29. I knew he couldn’t be, as I hadn’t received a text message. We were on radio silence during the tournament. :O)

    I think the coverage is generally good to great. I get what I need most of the time. And honestly, I’d rather have something to complain about (My Man is deep in this tourney and they’re not telling me his stats!!!) than not.

  13. DanM

    I was in a bad mood when I did this post. Oh well, my game was off. Happens to all of us. Or at least 19 of us. Same difference.

  14. Ed

    Cliff notes…cliff notes! Just woke up so maybe I will try and read it later. I am sure it is chalk full of great info.

  15. BJ Nemeth

    I think everyone’s complaints are justified, and we still should have had Robert in the chip counts at least by the mid-point of Day 2. Things like this remind me that it’s important for me to go out into the field after Day 1, and make sure all the players that we consider “trackable” are in fact being tracked. (Like I said, our chip counter doesn’t know Robert, and it’s up to me to find him and point him out — and others like him.)

    Ed, here’s the Cliff’s Notes:

    BJ isn’t allowed to talk about everything because of the media deal, but BJ apologizes and takes responsibility for missing Robert until he was near the felt on the bubble.

    BJ guarantees six things from coverage at Sometimes we do more, but this is what I can promise:

    1. Chip counts of big names on Day 1.
    2. End-of-day official counts as soon as possible.
    3. Names, place, and amount earned for all money finishers.
    4. Chip counts and big hands for everyone in the Final 27.
    5. Hand-by-hand coverage for the Final 18.
    6. Up-to-the-minute hand-by-hand coverage of WPT Final Tables.

    BJ also explains some of the reasons why it’s difficult to fully cover more than the final 27 players.

  16. BJ Nemeth

    Lisa said, “When really, I was just being snarky about math mistakes in the commentary and secretly hoping that My Man wasn’t Mr. 29.”

    Trust me, mathematical and grammatical mistakes in the updates doesn’t bug anyone more than they bug me. Unfortunately, I rarely have time to proofread the posts written by others. (My error rate is extremely, extremely low. In my younger days I was a proofreader, and then an editor.)

    When I do make mistakes in writing a post, it’s usually when I get too descriptive in a hand and mislabel some outs a player has. Also, I’ll occasionally have a brain fart and call a straight draw a flush draw or vice versa, but in those situations it’s usually clear from the cards on the board what the actual situation is.

    I rarely, rarely screw up the cards or the suits, because I’m very careful with them. Other reporters screw these up more frequently. (“How can the jack of clubs hit the river if he’s holding it in his hand?”)

    Dan, I didn’t think your post was unfair, and if you were in a bad mood, it was justified. Also, I knew what you meant when you were talking about the exclusive deals and media rights. In my mind, I just replaced “legally questionable” with “questionable from a marketing/public relations standpoint.” 🙂

  17. Ed

    Thanks for the See Spot Run version of that comment, BJ.

    Ed thinks there should be more coverage of Phil Hellmuth because lord knows there is never enough Phil out there.