However, this is not the first time a notable tournament professional has shunned the World Series. In 2010 Peter Eastgate famously chose not to play in the WSOP in favour of going to the World Cup instead.
Most poker players would think this was sacrilege for a former Main Event champion, but those of us who are fans of football will all sympathise.
Four years on and we poker players face a similar decision for where to divide our attention – the World Series of Poker or the World Cup?
When poker becomes a spectator sportThe WSOP is such a unique event for me, and I suspect most poker fans, in that I truly enjoy railing the entire series and keep up to date with the results. Of course I keep an eye on the EPT and the WPT and find it interesting, but the World Series really feels like a sport to me.
A spectator sport in fact. I love watching the streams, I love watching the rails. I really enjoy keeping an eye on the WSOP Player of the Year standings, which countries are doing well, and most of all I love to cheer my fellow countrymen on who are doing well.
The WSOP is also the only time I bet on poker, both in the form of sportsbook bets, and multiple fantasy poker league bets. The fact that there are 65 events makes the betting possibilities much more interesting in an otherwise hard to predict game.
The WSOP essentially is the World Cup of poker.
The highs and lows of being a football fanThe World Cup is second only to the Olympics as the greatest sporting spectacle in the world. The fact that it is only once every four years is probably what makes it so special. For that reason, one would probably have to side with it over the WSOP, which is there every year (Plus poker never goes on holiday the rest of the year anyway).
Having said that, I’m an England fan, which inevitably means I will come out of the other side of the World Cup hating life. Perhaps the most frustrating thing about being an England fan is that no matter how cynical you are about the team, somehow by the time the first whistle blows, you have convinced yourself that they can do it this time.
I hate to say it, but one of the tournaments I enjoyed the most was the 2008 European Cup when England failed to qualify. It allowed me to simply enjoy the football on its own merits, without going through the rollercoaster that is being a supporter.
The link between poker and being a football supporterBeing a football supporter is actually a lot closer to the World Series of Poker than you might first imagine. There is a strong sense of national camaraderie in both, but when you are observing a neutral event you find yourself rooting for the underdog more.
Both events tend to end in disappointment for the majority and it takes you a while to remember that you actually enjoyed it. Most of us swear off football and poker for a while immediately after. But soon enough there is something mesmerising, if not a little deluding, about these beautiful games that makes us persist and convince ourselves that next time it might be our time.
Unless of course you are German, in which case you are probably going to emerge out of both events as big winners.
From the pro’s perspective, I think skipping the WSOP once every few years is perfectly fine. I imagine in the case of players like Eugene Katchalov and Peter Eastgate, the fact they already have a bracelet makes it less enticing to try and win another one.
Luckily for us nobody is putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to choose between the World Cup and the WSOP. I can’t wait for both, but I apologise in advance to all our readers for what will be some very bitter and cynical poker coverage around June 24 when England fail to qualify from the group stages.
If you had to choose between the WSOP and the World Cup, what would it be? Do you think the World Series is even comparable to the World Cup as a spectator sport, or does it not excite you in that way? Who is going to win the World Cup? Let me know in the comments box.
Finally if you do like to have a little bet on poker, don’t miss our risk-free WSOP prediction competition, where you can win $50 and a status upgrade if you can pick the winners. If the World Cup is more your thing, check out our new sports forum.
|Barry Carter is the editor of PokerStrategy.com and the co-author of The Mental Game of Poker 1 & 2. He has been working in the poker industry for nine years and in 2013 won the APAT Award for Best Poker Media Provider. You can learn more about his work here.
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