WCP Day 4
It's the final heat of the World Cup of Poker today. The eight teams here in Barcelona have now spent four long days together, and now know each other very well. It's likely they'd be able to tell you which of their number is the best cash game player, who's a whizz at Omaha; perhaps they'd also need to know the weakest at heads up, or who'd be good to spot you ten Euros when the cash machine doesn't work? Each team has a Captain of course, and most will also know their team clown, or who's the best mentor to any of their less experienced players, and now all of them have had to find a designated mathematician.
As each player was eliminated yesterday, and the adjusted points totals written on the printed sheet on the casino wall, a crowd of players would always gather and ponder what these numbers meant to them. Most teams had someone with a piece of paper and pen, Hugo for Brazil, Tony for England, they both showed me theirs and discussed their calculations. These vital scraps of paper might not look very important, but those scribbled numbers mean everything.
As Hugo discussed his decided formula for calculating Team Brazils chances of a top four finish I didn't have my dictaphone handy. From memory it went something like this, "If we finish 1st and Poland finish 7th or 8th, and Israel don't finish in the top 3... Or if we finish 2nd but Poland don't win, and Canada outdraw's USA's aces with an inside straight on the river, and England don't get back in the game with a Michael Owen hat-trick..."
I may have got the details not quite right, but I do know that it's still very open. Teams Canada and the USA are likely to play cautiously in this heat. It needs to go badly wrong for them to fail to reach Saturday's game; where every player will win cash, and the title of Champions of the World Cup of Poker. Other teams know they have to score top points, and are likely to start the game in aggressive style. A few teams are looking for top points in this game, and also relying on other results to go their way.
Only Team Iceland are completely out of the running, with not even the 15 points of a win enough to help them reach the top 4 places. Brynjar Valdimmarsson, Iceland's player will feel less pressure than any other player today, but I'm sure he'll still want to do well for team pride. There was some jokey remarks at the bar about buying Brynjar a drink or two in the hopes he might support some other team. I'd like to point out that I have nearly three years experience in PokerStars collusion prevention team - any such tactics will be stamped on!
One thing my love of sport makes me sure of is that upsets can, and do happen. It's what makes any sport exciting. The underdog can surprise with a win, the leading team can make mistakes and find unexpected defeat. 'The only certainty is that nothing is certain,' and all that... That was Pliny, a Roman guy, not me. He must have had a bad beat or two when he came up with that one.
As I report to you today from this final heat, it's important to understand that every player's finishing position in today's heat will have a meaning for every other team. Team Mathematicians will be hard at work today, and I'll try to bring you their thoughts on the results, as well as stories of hands, and who's playing great poker for their team.