2008 WSOP Loses Steam: November Nine Fail To Shine

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
2008 WSOP

Not even the possibility of an arrest or showdown between the USA vs. Russia has ignited enough passion as we head into the 2008 WSOP final.

It's a highly anticipated event that a lot of people seem to have forgotten about - the 2008 World Series of Poker final, which takes place this coming November 10.

This is the first time ever that the final table of the World Series of Poker has been delayed a number of months in order that ESPN may broadcast the event "almost live".  Make no mistake about, the 2008 WSOP final should be a ratings juggernaut for the cable sports network and could serve to further raise eyebrows as to the potency of legalized online poker and its billion dollar plus revenue stream.

World Series of Poker officials announced May 1 that the tournament's final table would take place after a hiatus of nearly four months, a first in the event's 39-year history.  Needless-to-say, quite a few of the poker pros weren't especially thrilled by the delay.   Those who made the final table expressed their reservations as well.

"It ruins the integrity of the tournament," said Ylon Schwartz, who had the 5th largest chip count heading into the WSOP final.  "The purity of old-time Las Vegas is gone. The antiquity and purity of the tournament have been liquidated into pure greed and capitalism. The beauty of poker is that no matter how greedy people get, though, it still maintains its artistic and psychological values. It's a beautiful game and you have to use your memory. Your soul comes into play and you have to live well away from the table. If you have no empathy and are shrouded in darkness, then you'll never win."

Jeff Haney of the Las Vegas Sun writes:

The revised format was designed to generate extra publicity around the final table, to increase interest in big-time tournament poker and to boost ratings for ESPN's television coverage of the event - worthy goals all.

Perhaps the most appealing selling point, though, was the notion that the final nine competitors would become virtual folk heroes during the interim, newly minted poker celebrities with their own fan bases and the concomitant mainstream endorsement opportunities.

The new-look World Series has failed to deliver in this area. The so-called "November Nine" left the Rio in July largely unknown to the general public, and they return the same way for Sunday's resumption of the tournament, which carries a $9.1 million top prize.

Besides the mandatory appearances on ESPN's reliably strong coverage of the World Series, the nine finalists haven't made much of a splash outside of the insular world of hard-core poker enthusiasts.

"I've been personally pretty disappointed with the level of media coverage," Phil Gordon, host of ESPNRadio.com, told Haney. "I thought there would be a lot more media buzz and coverage of the final nine."

Gambling911.com Senior Correspondent, Jenny Woo agrees.

"While I had an opportunity to interview a few of the ‘November Nine' WSOP players, most were elusive," Woo said.  "One of the players - whose name I won't mention here - has been MIA and stood up most of the media."

Accidents, injuries, arrests....none of these things occurred during the interim, at least not yet.

The final nine players were not without their controversies. 

David Rheem, whose lifetime poker tournament winnings exceed $700,000, has a rap sheet.  He has served time for grand larceny. 

Eight years ago in Broward County, Rheem was convicted of dealing in stolen property and burglary, both felonies, as well as larceny and possession of marijuana, according to the Sun Sentinel. He was sentenced to four months jail time and 30 months probation.

He also failed to appear in court on a 2003 misdemeanor trespassing charge in Hollywood, according to state criminal records, leading to a court order for his arrest.

Of more press concern was that Rheem could be arrested while awaiting the final or - worse (and maybe better for ratings) - during the actual live play.

Lt. Marino of the Hollywood Police confirmed that the "trespassing" offense against Rheem first reported in the Sun Sentinel was not something that would lead his department to arrest the poker player during the WSOP live event. The charges were filed shortly after Mr. Rheem finished serving probation for an unrelated felony larceny conviction.

"There would be no reason for Florida to extradite David on this offense seeing that it's considered a misdemeanor and was given a ‘notice to appear' (ticket) which probably entailed some fines to pay," Lt. Marino told Gambling911's Jenny Woo.

Marino explained the likely nature of the offense.

"It was a misdemeanor trespassing charge where a security guard might of asked Mr.Rheem to leave the property and when Mr. Rheem did not the security guard called the Hollywood P.D.

The arresting officer now lives in Georgia and also verified that the offense was a misdemeanor. 

Christopher Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher


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