Last Man Sitting
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
As the Paddy Power Irish Open approaches, it’s time to get qualifying as a Sole Survivor. And in celebration of Paddypowerpoker.com’s amazing €100k “last longer” promotion, Bluff decided to take a look at the art of the last longer bet.
“You’ll never achieve anything sitting on your arse all day!” So said teacher / parent / careers advisor / magistrate – delete as appropriate.
Try telling this to Phil Ivey, who is incentivised to stay seated for as long as possible every day of his life, incentivised by fame and unimaginable wealth. If Jennifer Lopez has her posterior insured for $26 million, maybe Phil should too.
Part of the reason we all love poker so much is that, in this subculture of ours, many of the adages held to be true by the world at large, such as the one above, are completely turned on their head. And what those well-meaning but misguided members of officialdom didn’t realise is that the actual amount of time spent seated on one’s arse can be directly proportionate to the level of achievement attained, especially if you’re engaged in a last longer bet with your mates.
Ah, the noble last longer bet! Thanks to you we don’t have to endure hours of fruitless and cashless tournament poker. All we have to do is stay seated longer than the other fellow and we’re quids in.
For some of the super-high-stakes cash players, last longer bets are essential to retaining an interest in tournament poker. To Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan, the idea of spending several days chasing a prize pool that may never materialise is frankly absurd when they could be winning hundreds of thousands in the cash games next door. These players are accustomed to pots the size of major tournament prizes and that means their last longer bets have to be for silly money. In any given tournament, Ivey may well have more than the first place prize money riding on the tournament in cross-booking and last longer bets. In a sense, he’s playing a different tournament to everyone else, with a different prize pool. He can do that, you see, because he’s Phil Ivey.
To give you an idea of the money involved, at a side event at last year’s WSOP, Ivey and Dwan had arranged a last longer bet, reportedly to the tune of $100,000. Dwan knocked himself out on the very first hand, which meant Ivey had guaranteed himself fifth place prize money, just a couple of minutes into the tournament. Nice!
Meanwhile, two dotcom tycoons decided to diversify their portfolios in an unconventional manner at the WSOP Main Event. Jason Calacanis and David Sacks, owners of Yammer.com and Mahalo.com, respectively (no, we don’t know either), decided that whoever busted out first would have to give up 10,000 shares of his company to the other. It was Sacks who triumphed, making a small dent in the FTSE index in the process.
Humiliation is also a viable currency in the world of the last longer bet, and some players are motivated to go the distance merely by the thought of seeing their peers severely embarrassed.
At the LAPC Main Event a couple of years ago, poker pros Joe Sebok, Gavin Smith and Jeff Madsen agreed that the losers in their bet would have to get the winner’s face tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Sebok and Madsen busted early and headed to the tattoo parlour to immortalise Smith’s smug, grinning, triumphant face in ink.
Strangely enough, the origins of last year’s “Peter Jetten Badge Craze” can be traced to a last longer bet between the Canadian pro and Tom Dwan, in which the loser was forced to wear a badge with the other’s face on it. Dwan lost and duly wore the badge, inadvertently kick-starting a (brief) fashion revolution in the poker world. You were no one if you weren’t wearing a Peter Jetten badge last summer.
More extreme forms of humiliation exist for the truly twisted mind, of course, the prime example, perhaps, being “the taser bet”. Brandon Cantu, presumably in a moment of misplaced male bravado, agreed to get tasered should he fail to outlast Clonie Gowen at a charity tournament. He failed, and the frazzled consequences are available on YouTube for all to see.
So, what’s the optimum strategy for winning a last longer bet? Because the Irish Open is almost upon us, we thought we’d ask Rob Sherwood, the winner of the ultimate last longer bet, last year’s Paddypowerpoker.com Sole Survivor promotion. It’s back this year, of course, and it really does represent the most value you can have sitting on your arse. For the uninitiated, if you qualify for the Irish Open through Paddypowerpoker.com and then outlast all the other Paddy Power qualifiers, they will GIVE you a massive €100k. In fact, you’d be mad to try to qualify for the Irish Open anywhere else.
“Ironically, I’d never done a last longer bet in my life,” explains Rob. “I never really liked the idea of doing a bet that makes you play differently.”
Rob’s advice, as a Sole Survivor, is to play your normal game, irrespective of the prize or the forfeit. On no account should you tighten up in an attempt to cling on for dear life, because that way you’re not really giving yourself a chance to win anything.
“I never really thought about winning the €100k until it was down to about four players left,” he says. “Other people in the promotion seemed to be thinking about it on the very first day of the tournament. I think the maths of it is – there were about 700 players in the whole tournament and about 130 in the Sole Survivor promo, almost a fifth of the field. So, prior to the tournament, I thought it very likely that there would be at least a few players left when it got down to three or four tables. So I said to myself, I’m not even going to think about it until we’re down to three or four tables.
“I had a look around when there were four tables left and there were about five Soul Survivors left in. Now it was in the back of my mind, but with five left, it still seemed sensible to just play normal strategy, and not really adjust or player tighter to try to survive. I didn’t want the Sole Survivor promotion to make me play in a way that didn’t give me a chance to win the whole tournament; it was that weird balance. And it’s not often that you’re going to get that deep in major, major tournament, so I was really thinking about winning.”
Ironically, it was Rob’s steely determination to completely ignore the dynamics of the last longer that allowed him to emerge as Sole Survivor. He supplemented his fourth place finish in the Main Event for €163,000 with an extra €100,000 on top.
So, what have we learnt? Well, last longer bets are sometimes an essential way to spice up the long, arduous, variance strewn days of tournament poker, but concentrating on lasting longer than your peers, rather than taking the necessary risks to progress in the tournament, could be your comeuppance. You might even get tasered. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to insure our buttocks for €100k.
If you’d like to qualify for The Irish Open and have a shot at the €100k Sole Survivor, the only place you can do this is at Paddypowerpoker.com