Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Wall Street Poker death spiral

It's over guys. For all intents and purposes, the Wall Street Poker League has shut down operations.

The tournaments stopped a few months back when the last season ended. I kept the Thursday $1/$2 NLHE cash game going solely as a means of income, but now that I have a consulting gig I'm stopping that too. Actually, the cash game will still go on at another location, I just won't be dealing it (same deal with the $5/hr rake).

The reasons for the conclusion of this once mighty home league are multiple (listed in no particular order):
1. I'm kind of sick of doing it - It's a very laborious, tedious and sometimes thankless process to run the home games. I never took any money from them (except the last few months with the $1/$2 cash game), so I wasn't compensated for my efforts except with friendly companionship and wonderful poker games. For nearly 5 years, that was enough for me. But in the last 9 months, it's become a bit tedious. The thrill of the games has been replaced by a feeling that I've seen this before. Nothing was new anymore and we'd seen every possible combination of bad beat imaginable. There were no more thrills to be had from $30 sit'n'gos.

2. The 'wife' factor - I'm in a wonderful relationship now with a girl whom I really love and who loves me back. I sometimes didn't know if it was possible to feel this way about a woman again, especially after some of the personal horrors I've been through in my marriage and my post-marital dating. But it really happened and it's as real as it gets. Poker is a passion of mine but I know it's place in the happiness hierarchy. First comes the relationship from which all other things spring. Then, and only after that, comes the other stuff. Recreation is just that. Recreation. It's not my life and it's not my focus. Ali doesn't like playing as much as I do and I can't afford to bankroll her poker education, so we can't play together. And if that's the case, I'd prefer being on the couch beside her watching an old C.S.I. episode than being without her in a poker room (mine or someone else's). This doesn't mean I won't play sometimes in someone else's game or even try to host an occasional tournament, it just means I can't afford to expend the energy anymore setting this up twice a week.

3. The player pool has shrunk too far - I've had a successful poker league going for over 5 years now and over that time I've learned what you need to keep something like that afloat. Numbers. Plain and simple. You need asses in the seats, otherwise you have no game and you have no league. At the height of it's success (about 2 years ago I'd say), Wall Street Poker could send out an Evite to 130 people for 2 tournaments in a night and fully expect the list to be booked solid within 5 minutes of the invitation being sent. It got to the point where my regulars asked me to implement some sort of system to allow them easier access (in reward for their core loyalty). In response, I set up a way get 24 hours of warning in advance of an Evite being set up in return for a nominal fee (which I used to upgrade our old and fading poker table). Those days are far gone though. For a variety of reasons, the players who used to respond quickly stopped coming and it got to the point where I sent out an Evite for two tournaments a few months back and had to cancel it after getting only 5 responses, total. I used to have 130 people on the Evite list, 30 of whom were hard core regulars (attended more than twice a month), 60 of whom were sometme players (attended about once every two months) and 40 of whom were new to the list and hadn't attended yet. I am now down to a list of 100, of whom maybe 5 can be considered hardcore regulars. The core group has broken up a long time ago. Dustin stopped coming because he lost interest in the game. The Slayer moved in with his girlfriend in Jersey City, precluding attendance. CK and F-Train moved to Vegas. Darko upped his stakes, as did Vivian. W decided that being the house is better than being the player (smart). Abbie got into a relationship and dropped out of regular attendance. Liezl and Viet are expecting a child (soon). LJ moved to Jersey. Tae, Shawn and Marco had difficultes making the commute. The list goes on. To make matters worse, the death of the large poker rooms in the city made recruitment of new players a major difficulty. W had done most of the recruiting, becoming a gadfly of the first order. She now puts those talents to her own use. I kept up on my own for a while, first with the Deutsche game and then with odd people I met in Atlantic City (Chris Chin being the best example). But word of mouth only goes so far and without a sustained effort on my part, the player pool has dried up.

Jordan once said to me that "All home games go through a cycle". I think he said it in regards to the Crackhouse game, which was defunct for a while but now showing signs of a small reboot. It definitely also applies to my game as well. Thanks to everyone for making the last 5 years so incredibly memorable and important to me. I got my job at Merrill through the game, as well as an ex-girlfriend! I also met the love of my life through the same game, so I can never be too upset about it dying like this. Thanks especially to Scott St. G., who started this game with me all those years ago after a random conversation at our job at JPMorgan. Thanks also to Paulie Walnuts, who holds the honor of the only player to be with me from start to finish. And thanks to W, Darko, Slayer, Abbie, Michael Brown and others who formed the core group for whom talking about poker was like discussing fine art.

I will continue to keep the main poker table in my apartment until May 1st when my lease is up. After that, it's gone. I'm keeping the chips though, always. You never know when another game may start!

Please, if you have any fond memories of the game over the years, leave a comment.


23skidoo said...

It is sad to hear. I want to thank you for your hospitality and for taking the great time and effort it took to run the game. I don't make it up to the city as much as I used to, but I hope that I can drop you a line when I'm up and we can at least grab a bite and a beer.

Cheers my friend and good luck with the girl and the new job.


BWoP said...

I remember randomly emailing you to see if I needed Wall Street credentials to get into the game . . . then showing up and convincing people to play Omaha.

I think I've created a few converts in the process . . .

Thanks for hosting :-)

HighOnPoker said...

It's a sad day, but the Wall Street Poker Game will live on in our hearts. Thanks for everything, J.

Alceste said...

Thanks again for hosting. The games were fun.

Walnuts said...

Thanks Jamie. I will miss the twice a week "monthly" game. I'd like to say my poker game has improved because of your games, but I won the first tourney I played : )

Queen of the Mountain said...

Thank you for all your effort and energy in starting and running the Wall Street league for so long. I am thrilled that you are keeping the chips and will host a game here and there for the next year (Badugi, 2-7 triple draw???)-I am just getting to the point where I can take an evening off here and there and Wall Street was top of mind! Also, thanks for your continuous positive influence on my poker game as well as my life, that all started at the wierd lady's house on the UWS-my first live game. Wow. The crew that I met through you are all awesome, from Big Paul to small Paul and everyone in between. I'm sure you have spawned some future bracelet winners and you definitely have a special corner in memory and my heart. Oh, did I tell you what happened at the post office the other day...

Chris said...

Fond memories...
- Meeting you, Walnuts and Viv in Borgata.
- One of my first tourneys and I didn't know what level of play to expect. In one of the first hands I watched W's bf call or go AI w something like JJ on a board with an over card! However, I soon saw that the other players were much more experienced.
- Darko says to you "show me a Q and I'll fold." you show him a Q. He goes "call!"
- Seeing KM from my jr high/hs days show up at your place.
- In a tourney getting to heads up w CM and winning b/c CM missed her draw. The last hand I had something like middle pair and after the hand CM goes, "how did you know i was on a draw?" I didn't know what to say and was thinking "how would anyone watching NOT know she was on a draw?!"
Thanks for welcoming me at your game and in your home. I had a lot of fun and made some great new friends.
The league was a really cool idea and certainly benefited everyone who participated. My game certainly improved and I tried some things (2 5! HORSE!) that I might not have otherwise. Thanks for all your hard work and keeping the league going as long as you did. Looking forward to future AC trips and the like. Congrats and best wishes w the job and Ali!