Tuesday, May 04, 2010

TOC Musings, Vol 2: Rigging Kingfish

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

I love a rigged election. What I love even more, are stories about rigged elections. The CIA have been doing that dirty deed in Latin America over the last 50 years. The mob helped deliver Chicago for Joe Kennedy in 1960 which helped push his playboy son, Jack, into the White House. Heck, just look back to the shenanigans in Florida during the 2000 Presidential election to see the most recent example of blatant fraud.

I've worked on a couple of different political campaigns. In my 20s, I stumped for the Green Party and worked on Ralph Nader's Presidential bid, mostly in order to meet hippie chicks. In Atlanta during college, I interned on re-election campaigns for a state senator and a congressman. That's where I got my first taste of local southern politics, which is a whole different beast than what's transpiring up on the Hill and in the rest of America.

One of my poli sci professors grew up in East Texas and he adored LBJ and Sam Rayburn. I must have read thousands of pages in books and documents on both career politicians, not to mention my favorite Southern politician of all time... Huey Long. The Kingfish was a man of the people as the Governor of Louisiana before he was "allegedly" assassinated. Huey also had a younger brother named Earl who loved strippers, gambling, and had thirst for politics. Earl was not as slick as Huey, and inherently much more corrupt and unable to keep his shadiness on the down low. Even Huey was not shy about saying that his brother was "crooked."

I love a good old-fashioned crooked politician, because you know every election is going to be... incendiary.

* * * * *

The WSOP Tournament of Champions is set up so the public can vote in their favorite pros. In theory, the concept sounds legitimate, however in real life, there's so much room for foul play.

My girlfriend told me that some weird kid from India went deep in American Idol a couple of years ago because the entire country was voting for him. India has over 1 billion people. Talk about flooding the phone lines.

I know that the suits at Harrah's had hoped that pros would launch massive campaigns to get them into the Top 20. Do I need to see photos of a "kinder and gentler" Phil Hellmuth shaking hands, visiting old people homes, and kissing babies? Although, the possibility of Jen Harman baking "Vote for Jen" cookies like Tracy Flick in Election, could be amusing.

Some of the pros launched social media campaigns on Twitter or Facebook. Erica Schoenberg recently stumped for her new guy, Erick Lindgren, via Twitter. Heck, if I was eligible, I'd be tweeting: "Vote for me" fourteen fucking times a day.

I expected more enthusiasm out of all the pros. I figured that they would all be creating websites, and giving away tons of free stuff like buttons, hats, and pens. I hoped that the young pros would throw baller parties at swanky clubs and that some pros would rent out a massive tent and host a BBQs.

"Get free ribs. Vote for Chau Giang."

I thought that billboards all over Las Vegas would be cluttered with ads from pros seeking votes. Instead, there's plenty of medicinal marijuana ads, but not one VOTE for ESKIMO ad. I also thought that pros would be buying up ads on all of those billboards somewhere in bat country along I-15 on the way from L.A. to Vegas. Alas, not one sign soliciting my vote.

Instead, it seems that there's quite a few underground movements going on in the TOC. Sure, all of the popular pros are in the Top 50 as expected. But a few other names appeared on the Top 50, many of whom have to be there because of some sort of concerted effort from the pro, or their fans.

For example, it now looks like all of Latin America is banding together to send Humberto Brenes. He's their version of Huey Long. Humberto is a man of the people and the true Godfather to Latin players. Seems like every Spanish speaking player is throwing their weight behind Humberto. He's got the Latino bloc trying to propel Humberto and his sharks into the Top 20.

If you didn't know, Brazil is a huge fucking country and every poker player in Brazil has been voting en masse for Alex Gomes. Vamoooooooooooooooooooo!

And I'm guessing that the Hungarians are banding together to boost Peter Traply into the TOC. He's currently the "least known" player in the Top 50. Traply won a bracelet but only has 2 WSOP cashes. I'm sure he's one of the best players from Hungary, but I have no explanation why he's in the Top 50 other than this theory: the former Soviet-Bloc countries must be voting him in because they finally have a taste for freedom and exercising their right to vote. Either that, or he hired Russian hackers to build a him a bot. Computer hackers can rig a program or unleash a bot that will constantly vote for your guy and 19 random former bracelet winners that have the least chance of making it, thereby reducing the number of votes of players in the Top 50.

I wonder if Vitaly Lunkin called in some favors to get him in the Top 50. Is he really that popular in Russia, or is Teddy KGB and his old pals in the KGB are helping rig this election contest? After all, my favorite quote on democracy is attributed to Josef Stalin who quipped, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

So how can we really determine if all of the votes are legit? Are Ty Stewart and Seth Palansky sitting in guarded office deep in the bowels of the Rio's vault while they verify the votes and deciding which hanging chads will get counted and which ones don't?

Poker is a murky world. So is politics. Mix them both together, and you have the TOC. That's why if you have a favorite player, better get off our ass and vote them into the 2010 WSOP TOC. And if you believe anything I've written, then you have to vote often... otherwise, you will have to hire a Russian hacker, or persuade all of India to vote your way, or convince the Chicago mob to rig the TOC seat for you.

Oh, and it goes with out saying... Vote for Eskimo!


  1. Pauly!  I just jizzed in my pants when I opened pokerstarsblog and saw your name on one of the SCOOP recaps.  is this gonna be a regular occurence?  Will you be doing any interviews with the winners? 

  2. Pauly5:50 AM

    Thanks Phil. I'm just covering a dozen or so SCOOP events for PokertStars Blog. Thanks for tuning in.

  3. Wolfshead9:50 AM

    Don't think Chicago can help on this one  unless they've set up the graveyards for wireless