The PokerListings Daily 3-Bet is six days in Malta, 1,813 of your best poker friends around and a truly priceless list of afternoon poker news memories. Got a tip for a future edition of the 3-Bet? Let us know in the comments. Today in the 3-Bet we find poker as perfect modern theater, a lingering Tom Dwan rumor put to rest and a bucket list moment for Sally Jane Stephens.
1) Poker is Perfect (Theater)
Having just wrapped a 2016 Battle of Malta that saw compelling stories arise from all corners of the Grandmaster Ballroom, we certainly feel right now that poker remains one of the most captivating forms of entertainment anywhere. Game changer. So does the Globe and Mail's Russell Smith.
In a new piece Smith talked poker on TV and why this year's WSOP - especially the infamous "Check Your Privilege" hand between Griffin Benger and Will Kassouf - was so compelling. Calling it "the perfect Internet entertainment," Smith suggested Kassouf "singlehandedly raised global interest in the game as spectator sport" and says the psychological acrobatics, emotional complexity and fantastic jargon of the game can't be beat:
"What makes this game so incredibly exciting to watch on a screen? First, the technology that has enabled us to see the cards that the players can’t, so that we can understand all the psychological struggles going on. Second, the psychological acrobatics of the game, its emotional complexity, its extremely high stress and high stakes.
"Then there is the fantastic language: a completely foreign language, entirely made up of slang and jargon. If you don’t like phrases like 'flopped a gutshot' then you are dead to poetry.
"But most of all, it is about the personalities. Which are giant. Each game is a piece of theatre acted by people who are apparently there to be as stereotypically colourful as possible.
"They wear ridiculous jewellery and hats, they hide their faces with glasses and bandanas like hoodlums; they have accents from every corner of the earth. There are sober professors of economics going up against fish-and-chip shop owners."
Beat that, drone racing! Our Battle of Malta final table live stream didn't have hole cards and it was equally captivating. Let's see more of it all - on mainstream TV, on live streams, on Twitch - in 2017.
2) Dwan Not Kidnapped By Triad
Five years ago, Tom "durrrr" Dwan was the biggest ticket in poker. His high-stakes online exploits were legendary, his bracelet bets equally so, his appearances on High Stakes Poker the most watched and even a hint of a Dwan side bet sent fanboys off into 100 pages of giddy forum speculation. He's safe, don't worry. Feels like a long time ago, no?
Besides not finishing the durrrr Challenge with Jungleman, Dwan has just - slowly at first, then increasingly full speed - simply dropped off the poker map. He doesn't play online (that anyone knows of), he doesn't play at the WSOP and he hasn't played on TV in ages. Which is a shame.
Much like Smith says above it was both his giant game and his persona that drove poker fans into near madness for anything durrrr related. The poker world misses it. And when it started to disappear fans naturally turned to any online rumor - even remotely verifiable or logical - for comfort.
One of those longstanding rumors - that Dwan had either become indebted to and/or kidnapped by Chinese Triads - was a favorite. Hilarious, sure. But with just a hint of enough credibility to make people believe it could be true. Not true, though, says, Poker King Club owner Winfred Yu in a new interview. While Dwan spends all of his time in Macau, Manila and even Montenegro these days playing high-stakes cash games, he's not at the mercy of the Triad.
"Tom has access to the big games because he is a very likable guy and he gives a lot of action. VIPs love his action. I’ve read many stories about Tom being kidnapped or is part of the Triad, and people staking him, that’s totally not true.”
So that should settle it then, right? Dwan popped in in Manila to play a $200k and a few other games at the Triton Poker Series last week. which is where Yu commented to SoMuchPoker.
3) Sally Jane Ticks "Drink w/ Maria Ho at Juuls" Off Bucket List
Speaking of the heart-warming, compelling stories you can find in poker, we found plenty at the 2016 Battle of Malta. They were of course highlighted by two Swedish best friends, who began playing poker together six years ago, taking 1st and 3rd in the BoM Main Event and winning €227,000.
There were plenty of great moments in our side events too, though, including a husband and wife finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Crazy Pineapple and Zachary Reinbold and Lawrence Brandt, young Americans on globetrotting poker tours, having amazing success.
And then there was Sally Jane Stephens. Picking up poker (much like everyone) in the Moneymaker era, Stephens left the US in 2012 because she wasn't happy with the way the country was going and lives in Costa Rica now. Lately, she realized the kids had developed some pretty new ways of looking at the game and picked up her poker study to learn more herself. Now on a trip of her own around world fulfilling a bucket list playing poker, it's paid off as she finished second in the €1,200 Grandmaster High Roller. Just look at the pic of her and Maria Ho having a celebratory drink at Malta landmark Juuls below and tells us poker isn't the best game ever.