Part 1 – Odd Evolution of “Challenges”

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This is part 1 of a 3 part article on heads-up challenges.  Imagine a baseball game in which teams kept playing inning after inning with the fans never knowing when the game would end. After nine innings are complete the teams just keep taking their turns out in the field and at the plate for hours on end.  Eventually, the crowd would grow weary and would leave.

Imagine being a basketball fan going to attend a game featuring two great teams. After watching the action for two hours, the teams walk off the court without saying a word and everyone is left wondering when they might return.  Three weeks later, the teams both take the court again, a crowd quickly assembles as word spreads.  Just as the rafters have filled up, about thirty minutes in, the coach of one team tells his opponent on the other bench that his players are too tired to continue, that maybe they should just try to play again some other time.

These two scenarios are quite extreme; these things just don’t happen in the four major sports.  Sporting events have a finite beginning and a winner emerges at the end. For the fans, at the conclusion of a game, they at least leave the arena with a sense of closure.

However, in poker, there is an ongoing competition that essentially has characteristics of the two scenarios above.  You have probably surmised that they are metaphors for the two Durrrr Challenges, the first against Patrik Antonius and the second against Dan Cates, neither of which has ended.

Perhaps the Durrrr Challenge was a good idea at the time; it did generate a great deal of interest and excitement.  However, its execution seemingly was just not really thought through well enough.  Eighteen months later, the first challenge against Antonius is still 10,000 hands from being complete and the second challenge against Cates, which was thought initially to only last a couple of weeks, has already taken five months with only 300 hands played in the past two months.

Tomorrow, in part two, we will explore the shifts in the fans’ reactions and expectations.


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