Good, Bad or Meh for Poker?

You'd think a bunch of dudes who just became millionaires could at least crack a freaking smile.

You'd think a bunch of dudes who just became millionaires could at least crack a freaking smile.

The 2009 WSOP Main Event has played down to the November NineTM, which means it’s time for our second annual (sort of) Good for PokerTM, Bad for PokerTM, Meh for PokerTM list.

First things first, had Phil Ivey not N9’d it, this would be a turd of a final table on par with 2007. Probably even worse. Just like Cush would’ve saved all for Jerry, Ivey saved all for this final table from a marketing and general mass public interest perspective.

Anyway, we polled a number of people in the so-called “media,” industry types, and pros to gather opinions to go along with our own. Below is the general consensus. Note that just because someone might be listed as Bad for Poker, that doesn’t mean he is a bad dude (except maybe for Shulman). It just means they won’t do much to promote the sport and help the game grow, among other things.

For a more detailed “analysis” of this list, check out our column in next month’s edition of Bluff Magazine.

Meh for Poker

  • Steve Begleiter: Are you excited about an ex-Bear Sterns executive in his 50’s winning the WSOP Main Event? Didn’t think so.
  • Kevin Schaffel: Another average-looking 50-something white guy. Schaffler lives in Florida and has no real desire to play poker full-time. He’s this year’s Dan Nassif.
  • James Akenhead: This one was the toughest for us to peg. Akenhead is a good young player from the U.K. He looks exactly like you’d think a good young player fro the U.K. would look like (this isn’t really meant as a knock, but the guy looks British). Everyone we spoke with in the industry, including the players, didn’t really have an opinion on the guy. Could be good, probably won’t be bad, so let’s go with Meh for now.

Bad for Poker

  • Antoine Saout: Eff France.
  • Eric Buchman: The guy is a straight-up mercenary who says he’s only in it for the money. Whoever wins the WSOP Main Event is the focal point of poker for a year. If Buchman wants no part of that, that’s his right, but it doesn’t mean he’s good for the game.
  • Darvin Moon: Of every N9’er we asked our peers in the industry about, Darvin Moon caused the most amount of debate. Some argued he could be another Moneymaker. The problem with that is we’re not sure if Moon even knows what the Internet is. Others we’ve spoken with say Moon could be the worst thing that ever happened to poker. He’s another one that really doesn’t care about the “celebrity” attached with winning poker’s biggest tournament and he basically luckboxed his way this far. We say Moon, a ginger, is a ginger. So for now, we’re keeping the final table chip leader in the Bad for Poker column. Given his huge chip lead and chances of winning the final table, we hope he’ll change our minds.
  • Jeff Shulman: Just reread this. Great storyline and we’re kind of glad he made it to the final table and is stirring the pot, but would be about as bad as it gets for a winner.

Good For Poker

  • Joe Cada: The 21 year-old online whiz has a good attitude, could become the youngest ME winner ever, and doesn’t seem averse to doing the media tour. Works for us.
  • Phil Ivey: Across the board, the only person on this list that everyone agrees is unequivocally Good for Poker. Great mainstream story here that the press will push about Ivey being the Tiger Woods of Poker. Big boost for the game if the best player wins its most prestigious (and televised) tournament. If Ivey wins and does the talk show circuit that Peter Eastgate turned down last year, maybe we see another Moneymaker-esque effect.

13 Responses

  1. Brian Heptinstall

    July 22, 2009 1:59 am, Reply

    Still the worst final tables…even WITH Ivey. You wouldn’t be able to spell 60% of the names if they weren’t already here. Ivey and Shulman are well known and you only have to get through Darvin to get his right.

    • matt

      July 29, 2009 5:55 pm, Reply

      “you wouldnt be able to spell 60% of the names… etc” so whats wrong with foreigners u narrow minded fucking prick? btw nice name heptinstall lol dont think anyone could spell that either..anyway..grow up and accept ppl who arent fat stupid americans like yourself.

  2. Andrew

    July 22, 2009 7:42 am, Reply

    Umm, guys, I trademarked “Meh for Poker” already. And I disagree about Akenhead. I would put him in the good category.

  3. Nick

    July 22, 2009 9:28 am, Reply

    I’d agree with Kevin Schaffel but I have no idea who Dan Nassif is. I think maybe that means I agree by default.

  4. Chinaman

    July 22, 2009 10:50 am, Reply

    From an outsiders viewpoint, just someone who has read the few post mortem stories on the WSOP main event, I have to say I think Moon is a good story and good for poker. For one thing, he’s American. No disrespect to last year’s winner Eastgate, but even his age didn’t make his victory compelling. He was just a boring, also-ran European poker player.

    The year before that our buddy Yang, who, despite being American, had a thick accent, played like a crazy Asian, and wanted to suck off Jesus Christ – not good times. Jaime Gold was good television the year before that. All that contrived dialog that we all knew we could see through but none of the players could made him a champion we all knew we could beat.

    If Moon wins, despite not having the schtick of Gold, he will step up and fill that void of a champion we all know we can beat. Having someone with a flawed game win the world’s largest tournament can’t be a bad thing. How can it? It inspires an anyone can do it attitude.

    Plus, he’s a backwoods logger who seems like he stepped out of a time capsule. I think this can work. I think your poker “insiders” are just butthurt that they won’t have direct access to him and that he won’t be an online poker shill.

  5. GaryW

    July 22, 2009 3:29 pm, Reply

    Yeah, count me amongst those who think Akenhead should be in the good column. Says the right things, likable. Poker could def do worse.

  6. Jonny Colossal Head

    July 23, 2009 6:58 am, Reply

    lmao, what a bunch of a wannabe, envious douchebags you people are! Since when has it become the norm for poker players to be “good” or “bad” celebrities? It’s POKER!!! It’s a freakin past time for the vast majority of the worlds players. Do you expect everyone who ponies up $10K to play in a tournament to aspire to be the next media whore in the overhyped circus that the WSOP has become? I love the fact that the chipleader is just some regular shmo from East Bumfuck, USA !! How can you NOT love this guy?!? After he wins whatever prize he wins, he’s going back to his old life and leaving the circus behind and good for him for doing so. The envy of other peoples successes in poker is just silly. Every mouth breather comes out of the woodwork to judge them. too funny….

  7. Wicked Chops Entity

    July 23, 2009 7:55 am, Reply


    We hear you on the points, but if Moon goes back in the woods, he serves no real good to promote poker. We left out in this post (it’s in the Bluff column coming out next month) that Moneymaker had a great story: everyday Joe account wins $33 satellite on Stars and turns that into $2.5M. Then Moneymaker embraced the role and has served as a good ambassador to the game, bringing in countless new players. Just don’t think Moon will do that.

    Johnny Colossal Head, we think you missed the point. We’re looking for people who will bring a greater interest to the game, cause excitement, and bring in new players.

  8. The Amateur

    July 23, 2009 8:40 am, Reply

    I would like to see a true interview with Moon as to why he made the journey to Vegas and dropped 10k on a Poker Tournament. There may be bits and pieces of a story out there but I want to hear it from him.

    Noeman Chad has to have a chubby due to Phil making thr FT. every year we have heard Norm talk about how Ivey is his man.ugh.

    I am happy for Phil but will he be a good ambassador for poker? Who has been the past few years? I would have to say Greg Raymer has been the best!

    • Brian Heptinstall

      July 24, 2009 12:16 am, Reply

      Like the comments Amateur. I would love to see an interview with all of the players and their circumstances that brought them to Vegas. Esp. if someone came out to support their porn addiction or something…

      The only thing I have to ask is, have you actually met Raymer? He’s the biggest douche! I have some stories about that asshole. I am the guy that gave these guys their story about the shit storm Glum Girl made over a ring in L.A.! I really could write a book about some of the things I’ve seen. And I haven’t been around the game as long as some other media types.

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