Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Poker Sharks

The rise in the popularity of Poker over the last decade has no doubt had an effect on the playing habits of some chess players. Indeed, when once Australian chess lost a number of future champions to Bridge, now they are more likely to be found on the felt.
At the Aussie Poker Millions tournament being held in Melbourne at the moment, there are a number of chess players playing for bigger stakes. Probably the most famous (or notorious) of these is James 'Andy McLeod' Obst, who began his career in online poker, although this career suffered a hiccup when it was discovered he was under the legal gambling age. He has since turned 18 and has been doing quite well ever since. Also spotted in action was Gary Benson, one of Australia's top Correspondence Chess players, and Kerry Stead, well known Sydney player and organiser.
However in the Limit Hold-em tournament it was another chess player, Jesse Maguire (a former Canberra junior) who did the best out of them all, scoring a third place finish, and picking up $17,500 in prize money.
But before you go running off to cash in on the big prize money at poker tournaments, I will warn you that along with the big prizes comes the big entry fees. $1100 to be precise. And given the chess communities ability to argue for hours over a $5 increase in club membership fees I'm guessing there won't be a mass exodus from our ranks any time soon.

**update: Kerry Stead has made it to the final (ie money) table of the HORSE event. Well done Kerry.


TrueFiendish said...

I've always thought that strong chessplayers (ie grandmasters) would have a lot of the attributes required for top-flight poker (calculative ability, ability to stay calm under pressure for hours, combative nature, etc).

How many GMs are out there trying to making a meagre living from international chess and barely covering their own costs in a highly competitive field? What might happen if they trained up for poker and descended on Vegas or Macau?

Anonymous said...

The players who leave chess for Poker are not seeking enjoyment, but oblivion. They are seeking to escape from a spectre.

They are traumatised individuals.

TrueFiendish said...

From a somewhat less melodramatic viewpoint, they might also be seeking to make some money.