Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Chessplayer Wins $90,713

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Not at chess, suckers. Hikaru Nakamura points out that former US junior star Noah Siegel just got knocked out of the 2006 World Series of Poker. He finished 64th (of course) and earned 90K. Of course the event requires a 10K entrance fee, although many players are there from online qualifiers. The field was over 8,500 players to start. Siegel won the US Cadet Championship in 1996 and is around 24 now. The database says he hasn't played much in the past few years. More details welcome. Next time you see him he's paying for lunch. Did he make ESPN's coverage? There's a long list of strong US chessplayers who have taken up poker close to full time, mostly online. Is this plague reaching Europe? Alexander Grischuk did okay in serious poker event last year. There's a rumor he went to Vegas for this year's WSOP but I haven't been able to verify that.

Oodles of poker-related threads hereabouts. Take your pick or use the search.


Grischuk was definitely in Vegas for WSOP, but I have no idea how he did there.

ESPN's televised coverage of the Main Event won't start for several weeks. It takes a lot of time to trim dozens of hours of tournament poker down to something interesting.

Speaking of chess players who have done well in poker, Dan Harrington (WSOP Main Event winner in 1995(?) and a very successful tournament poker player) is supposed to be (or was) a USCF Master and 1971 Mass. State Champion. I've heard that before, but I don't have time to verify it this morning.

Grischuk definitely didn't cash in the WSOP if he did play (unless his name was brutally mangled at some point).

Quite a few chess players cashed in the main event. Eugene Yanayt pulled down about 30K, and David John, Ricky Grijalva and Michael Casella also pulled down about 20K.

Grijalva probably has the biggest cash of the decade from a (recently active) chessplayer. He took 4th in the World Poker Classic in 2004, netting $457K for his efforts.

By the way, this is the 3rd year running a New York City chessplayer made the final 10 tables of the main event.

I thought perhaps 51st finisher was strong Minnesota Master Alex Balandin, but apparently there a NJ pro poker player by the same name.

I don't get it!? Why would any amateur chessplayer want to play poker and win thousands and thousands of dollars; when they can play chess, and time and time again, win nothing-at-all? It has to be attributed to some type of degenerate social malady? :)

GM Walter Browne played the $50,000 HORSE event at the WSOP this year. He did well for the first part but busted out out of the money.

Hey Mig,

Ever considered playing serious poker yourself?

I don't get it!? Why would any amateur chessplayer want to work and earn thousands and thousands of dollars; when they can play chess, and time and time again, earn nothing-at-all? It has to be attributed to some type of degenerate social malady? :)

Dan Harrington was in the 2100s most of the time I knew him in Mass. tournaments in the 1970s; so it's quite probable he was above 2200 at some point in his chess career. I don't recall him being a former Mass. state champion, but that too is entirely plausible from what I know of the state chess scene at that time. I faced him over-the-board at least twice, probably more like 4 or 5 times, all in the 1970s.

Jon, thanks for the eyewitness account of Harrington's chess career. That at least confirms the story's plausability.

Don't forget Dennis Waterman who also retired long ago from chess with a 2200+ rating. He's even in my WSOP Play Station 2 game. Does anybody know how he finished this year?

Harrington's current rating (although it's probably quite old) is over 2300.

I've actually been at a few tournaments in LA when he showed up to say hello to apparantly old friend and LA Times chess columnist Jack Peters. I just remember him talking about when Peters was a kid and watching him play. His description was something like "You were always attacking with all you pieces randomly scattered around your opponents king, you seemed to have no coordination, but you managed to get it to work".

Poker is one renumerative way for a good chess player to use his analytical skills; backgammon is another. Former U.S. Speed Chess Champion Bill Robertie was a strong expert or master (I forget now and the USCF doesn't carry him in their files since he hasn't played since before 1990). He first won the "World Championship of Backgammon" in 1983 and was a leading player throughout the 1980s and 1990s and is still a prolific author on the game. IIRC that first championship win was worth well over 100 grand. See, e.g., http://www.bkgn.net/backgammon-articles/Bill-Robertie.asp He also writes instructional books on chess.

Not sure poker requires analytical skills. Poker is more about reading your opponent so people skills are more of a factor.

Ah I take that back. Chess players are such weird people that they are hard to read!

I tried posting in the thread about BAP, but it didn't work. I hope it is ok to cross post it here. Anyway, wouldn't it be nice if chessplayers could be playing in million dollar chess tournaments? When every game of chess is a battle, then there is a chance for this. As it stands now, no chance for big money, since there is no large audience for drawfests.


There either is or isn't an excessive draw problem among GM's. If you think there isn't a problem and that 70% draw is fine, when similar strength computer programs have half the draw rate, then we clearly can't change anything to fix the problem that doesn't exist.

However, if you would like to see every game played, I mean really played, then something has to change.

BAP isn't perfect, but none of the nightmare scenarios have come true. BAP changes how the players play, that's kind of the point. However, it does not change the rules of the game in any way, just how the tournament is paired and prizes given. Even the current rating system is intact, so I am not sure why some people thing the change is so drastic.

Chess that is played doesn't have any greater number of errors and every game is a battle. Will it be a win? Can black hold a draw and get the point? Sure, the point system is not exactly calibrated, but at least it is simple enough to remember, it solves the excessive draw problem and it is better that any other system that I know of to address this issue.

The reason is that if two GM's want to draw, or better stated, really don't want to lose, then a draw is nearly certain. BAP eliminates the desire to draw for white. Black can want it all he want, but it take two to do the draw tango.

Also, the tournament pairing is a bit more of a challenge, but at least a BAP paired tournament gives everyone equal whites and black. I argue that current odd number of round swiss tournaments is giving about half the players a significant advantage and the other half a significant disadvantage. [I am talking strong players, where white wins significantly outnumber black wins]

While perfection is a nice goal to have, I much prefer an actual solution to the excessive draw problem (or unfought game problem) with some theoretical potential of unfair pairings, etc. as opposed to the current system where we know all the players get a different number of white and black and the draw percentage is around double what it should be.


Grischuk played in Monaco in European Poker Tour final, and got nothing but experience. That Jeff Williams guy made a splendid performance there!

If I come in 64th place at the World Open of Chess how much do I win.

By the way, it would be interesting to speculate that if 64th place gets $90,713 then how much does the winner take home. OMG. I just might be able to buy that new opening book if I win.

Clint what in heaven's name are you talking about. what is BAP. or is that a secret. You talked for a long time. well it took a long time to read. and at the end I was only frustrated because you said NOTHING to all the people like me who have no idea what BAP is.

OK I will do a google seach of BAP. OH it is

British Auto Parts
Beta Alpha Psi
Building A Presence
BAP some song
British Association for Psychopharmacology
blanchardstown area partnership

google did 7,130,000 hits for BAP, I better stop here


Mig dont ask this one for your Christmas Puzzles.

To answer Frank H's question, 871 players cashed (minimum payout of $14K), and first place is $12M.




Unfortunately I dont play Poker much better than Chess. and I dont have $10,000 for an entry fee. but $12 million is incredible. How come chess can not do a little better.

I found BAP.


here is an interesting game. black is a fairly good player. did black throw this game?

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Bf5? 6.Qe2! 1-0

Chess can't do better. Sorry. It happens.

And yes, practically every sane chessplayer has dropped chess (unless it was going amazingly well for them) to do poker instead. It's silly not to.

To all who ask "Why cant chess do this??"

1. Chess players are notoriously frugal.
2. To get a $12 million prize fund, entry fees of $10,000 are paid.

And that is why chess cant do what poker is doing.

Don't be too quick to accept John's assertion at face value. Obviously poker holds the promise of far bigger rewards than chess (as well as far higher entry fees) -- but don't only a small minority of competitors get to share in those rewards? Isn't that the definition of competition?

From time to time one reads a similar argument applied to Wall Street. Everyone should go into finance, the money's much better than other professions (let alone chess), etc.

Just last weekend I read a variant of that argument in a popular book -- a book about personal finance, no less! That author gave a table showing how fast just $1 grows over 60 years at various compound rates of return. For a steady 21.5% per annum the $1 grew to over $100,000 in 60 years: so an initial $100 investment would grow into $10 million. The author then tackled the obvious objection, that 21.5% is far above any realistic long-term return expectation. Not so, he said: Warren Buffett actually exceeded 21.5% a year compounded over something like 40 years. Therefore, the author concluded, it IS a reasonable expectation for you and me!

I love guys like that. In my business, they (and the even dumber people who buy their books) are the ones we make our money off.

Maybe poker is the same way.

In passing, note that if the World Open had a $10,000 entry fee that was paid by every entrant, the prize fund would have been $9 million instead of $300,000.

Now $9 million for the total prize fund is still much less than WSOP's $12 million for first prize alone. But the scale of difference now corresponds to something real. If we're going to compare at all, let's compare apples with apples, shall we? Unless that is you find it comforting to sleepwalk through life like the above-mentioned author who blithely equated himself and his readers with Warren Buffett.


The assertion is correct because of the nature of the games. You'd be an idiot paying a $10K entry into the World Open because you have no chance of winning, even if you are an expert.

On the other hand, you DO have a shot in the WSOP.

You can't change this, ever. It's chess, it will never be as accessible to people as poker is. Nothing you can do about it, so kicking and screaming about it isn't going to help.

Yes, some guy very recently approached me about making a site that would host tournaments like ICCs tournaments, but with entry fees like poker sites' single table tournaments where the prizes would be similar. The problem is that a bad chess player cannot even maintain short-term profits in this game to believe they're a winning player. Also, chess is more objective and hence does not really need cash prizes to be played. Poker without money lacks any meaning.

I see the point that both of you are making: the luck element in poker, which is wholly absent in chess, injects a degree of randomness into the final prize distributions, so that a far wider circle of competitors have a reasonable belief they will come out ahead.

Still, there must be some degree of skill in poker. I assume that even in poker, some people must win with a degree of consistency -- which logically means some people (probably many people) must LOSE with a degree of consistency.

That was all I meant when I said don't accept John's statement too quickly. I was referring to his second sentence, which seemed to imply it's easy to get rich (and stay rich) playing poker.

I don't know, and I've never even played it...but my guess is that for every 50 people who gave up chess for poker, 2 or 3 of them made serious money, 5 or 10 of them made some money but not enough to live on, and the rest got nowhere and stopped playing in any poker events they'd have to pay to enter...in other words, just like people who take up stock trading, or any of a number of other potentially remunerative activities.

Because in real life, there IS no source of easy money. "Nothing you can do about it, so kicking and screaming isn't going to help."

I don't get it. Why this supposed equivalence between poker and chess?

Should non-professionals stop playing golf, squash, tennis, soccer, and so on because there is money to made in poker? That's basically what's being said here. I also find the implicit assumption that everyone can make money playing poker amusing.

I play about 100-125 SNGs online a week, with an avg. return of over 30% according to my Poker Tracker stats, and yet I hardly ever visit poker websites, and I couldn't care less about who wins bracelets at the WSOP. This in sharp contrast to the amount of time I spend following chess tournaments and visiting chess websites.

I wouldn't mind net poker being banned. It's true that several chess players are now making a fortune playing it. Many of them make more than research scientists get paid by top universities. What do these net poker players contribute to society? In the worst case they are exploiting compulsive gamblers who have psychological problems, and who don't know when to stop and don't have the smarts to ever get back the money they have lost... and may literally end up losing a car or worse. Like one famous GM put it it's 'the endless supply of human stupidity' that makes net-poker so profitable for smarter people with the wits and enough dedication to master the game.

In the future it's possible that we will see more and more fantastically talented young people choose poker instead of academic career, because it pays better. Addiction, compulsive gambling they are not going anywhere, neither is human stupidity (unfortunately).

To sound bit of an idealist, (potentially) great minds should be seeking solutions to serious life problems from environment to humanitarian concerns. Contributing to research on green energy and to cancer and AIDS research etc. and _not_ exploiting stupid people for money.

Richard, your post also makes a great case for banning chess. After all, wouldn't we all be better off if all the brilliance wasted on chess were instead spent on research for green energy? God, what a bunch of bastards those GMs are, wasting their talents like that! They could be CURING CANCER, but instead all they do is shuffle pieces!

How many have died so Ivanchuk could feed his vanity instead of solving the problems of the Mid-East? How many megatons of CO2 have been pumped into the atmosphere because Topalov mastered the art of the exchange sacrifice instead of inventing a renewable energy source? How many have suffered from AIDS while Kramnik took all those 17 move draws instead of creating a vaccine? Chucky, Vesilin, Vladimir, HOW COULD YOU LET ALL THOSE PEOPLE JUST DIE LIKE THAT?

No, your comparison is frankly rather poor.

Chess gives aesthetic beauty and is usually relaxing. And online chess 99.999% of the time has no money involved. Not 1/1 comparable to compulsive gambling, is it?
What comes to Topalov, Ivanchuk etc. Top level chess offers beauty to millions of chess lovers around the world. These are important cultural values.

Notice that I directed my criticism at net poker, which makes it way too easy for compulsive gamblers to lose some control over their lives and for smart calculative people to exploit them (and others).

I have no problem with top level poker on ESPN. I have no problem with "traditional poker" with real cards. It offers cultural values to millions of followers. That's not the point. And I have no problem with old friends playing for hundreds of dollars a night.

It's a problem when people drop out of college to exploit stupid people and compulsive gamblers (definitely not mutually exclusive) on the internet, contributing little aesthetic, or cultural values to the society. Surely... "top boards" get observed by many people... people playing for thousands and thousands per hand... but most of it happens just between the players. Winner - loser. One that exploits and one that gets exploited. Smarter - stupid.

Contribution to society compared to a Morozevich - Volokitin game? It's a poor comparison mate.

Net poker is unprincipled, unproductive and exploitative in nature and offers very little in return.

Research on green energy, AIDS, and cancer is noble but not profitable. It's profitable if you can solve those problems, but there is no gurantee you will. It is much more profitable to be a lawyer, or a business person whose job it is to maximize the profits of corporations (by increasing the number of consumers). If a brilliant person dedicates his life to poker because he can use his brilliance to win money, then there is no gurantee that if poker did not exist that person would not be a lawyer.

There's nothing new about this choice. The US is a society where one's value is determined by the amount of money one can earn. Whether or not we like the system (and I don't) we must recognize it. 30+ years ago I consciously decided to not pursue a career as a physicist and instead went into computer science and then business precisely because there was more money to be made there. Had I known more about the business world at that point, I would likely have become a lawyer.

Smart people can figure out the system quickly. Some are then idealistic enough to continue a "worthwhile" career, but many opt for the money. I've never regretted my choice, although I have continually regretted the system that made it necessary.


The 2005 HB Global chess tournament in Minnesota (USA) had excessively high entry fees, of approx $350 for class players.
Fees were set so high in order to have huge class prizes for the few winners. Most class players lost hundreds of dollars at HB Global.

How high do entry fees have to get before the event crosses a line in the gray area that gives it a substantial implied **GAMBLING** aspect? $100, $200, $300, $351?
At $350 I think HB Global crossed that line.

Yet children under 18 were allowed to participate in HB - in effect kids were gambling, and their parents chipped in the stakes.

No Richard, my comparison is not poor. You are comparing a top GM game agaisnt online poker and saying that one has value and the other does not. You are right. Online poker is far more valuable. Just follow the money.

But both are a waste of time and energy that could be spent on the betterment of mankind. It just so happens that some of us value those particular time wasters. (As an aside, I also bet the vast majority of people would appreciate a good bluff more than they would Moro's best games. That's why one can't avoid televised poker in the USA, but chess is nowhere to be found even with hundreds of channels available.)

Also, I don't think you know what you're talking about regarding compulsive gamblers losing their shirts. Why do you think that if online poker didn't exist they wouldn't have the problem? How much compulsive gambling in the US is done by people betting on sporting events? Exactly why do you think the Super Bowl and the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament are so huge?

As a final point, chess is relaxing? That's the most BS statement I've ever read on a chess site. Watching a beautiful sunset is relaxing. Chess is difficult and trauma inducing.

>>(As an aside, I also bet the vast majority of people would appreciate a good bluff more than they would Moro's best games. That's why one can't avoid televised poker in the USA, but chess is nowhere to be found even with hundreds of channels available.)

You may be right, but (I say again, ad nauseum) this is untested. Until somebody tries televising chess USING THE POKER MODEL we don't really know.

Poker model: Many hours of footage are condensed to highlight the moments of narrative tension. Lots of cues to help the uneducated player understand what's happening (hole cam, percentages shown onscreen, terms defined over and over, commentators playing up the tension and explaining rules and strategies, etc etc.)

I suspect it wouldn't be nearly as popular as poker. But I think it could certainly find a niche.

I keep hearing people argue that watching a chess game would be boring. Well, if you showed two solid hours of unedited footage from one poker table, final table *possibly* excepted, it'd be astonishingly boring as well. Sophisticated editing and postproduction is the key.

I'd be hesitant to say that just because a certain thing brings in a lot of money that it's valueable. Bill Gates can make people who bang their heads on the wall valueable. That is capitalism. Those with money control what goods and services are produced since goods and services are produced not for people but for money. Those with money control what others do with their lives, and if they don't want chess players to play chess then they can do it. This asside, clever/deceptive advertising can make something more valueable. Advertising always increases the value of a product even though the engineering of the product is unchanged.

Icepick, I don't want to pick a fight, but if you read it carefully, I don't have much against poker on television or events like WSOP. People can value a good bluff on television, no problem.

I'm not saying stupid people, compulsive gamblers (etc.) would disappear if net poker was banned. I'm saying that net-poker makes it increasingly easier for potential compulsive gamblers, and stupid reckless people to get in contact with the habit that can seriously affect their lives and those near them. Everyone has internet these days, everyone can play poker.

Master level chess players who have studied the game (poker) for less than a year can (many of them) start making $10k or more a month. And net poker is just starting it's steps. It will grow into a multi-billion dollar global behemoth.

That money will come from somewhere. Some people will be losing it. I don't know which aesthetic values you want to attach to it. Sure it can be exciting to watch the top players who play for silly money... but most of the games won't get observers. Just people losing money (in the long run) and others winning it. And those who have lost it, have not gained anything in return. It's not productive.
Morozevich gets possibly paid less than these semi-pro net poker players. But while no one watches the poker games of these players, at least million people will browse thru the moves of a Morozevich-Anand game. You were the first to make this comparison by the way, calling the GMs bunch of bastards who presumably contribute nothing and should be doing cancer research. So don't have a go at me because of your own comparison. I think they do contribute. Net poker players don't. Cheers.

You get my point. And by the way I find a game of chess on the internet usually very relaxing. That's why I play the game.

Hey everyone! I have to agree with icepick...chess is not relaxing at all. Listening to Rachmaninoff while playing on pokerstars is, on the other hand, quite relaxing. Oh well, I gotta go study some shogi now, so I can get absolutely trashed by the new #1 player in Japan.

Yes, the 'plague' reached Europe a long time ago. There are numerous strong European chess players doing well at poker.

As for televising chess tournaments in the style of poker, I can see a few similarities and differences.

The winning percentage, as shown to viewers during a poker hand, would naturally be replaced by a chess engine evaluation (+ or - score) to communicate the current state of the game. Coupled with this would be a list of, say, the three best lines (and their evaluations) for whoever is to move. One problem with this approach might be the necessary amount of time for the engine to calculate the evaluation, however, assuming the TV footage is put together after the fact (not live) this should not be a big problem. Whatever engine was used would naturally be a sponsor of the tournament, and considering the advertising value in getting viewers to take up chess and use their software as a teaching tool, there might very well be come interest from the chess software developers.

Although rapid chess might be the more exciting due to the extra pressure / drama added by the clock, this may not be necessary. Televised poker continually switches between different tables, only showing the more exciting and important moments at each, and chess could do the same (e.g. blunders, novelties, exchange sacs, etc).

The main impairment, obviously, would be the ability of the average Joe to understand the evaluations. Why is White +2.0 exactly? An idiot can see that pocket queens are good, but what about a strong pawn center? Commentators should be able to help here, but this presupposes that Joe actually cares to understand the game, for it won't be very entertaining if he's unwilling to think.

On the other hand, some elements of poker which add considerably to its watchability, namely, bluffing and trash talk, would appear to be completely absent from chess. What can chess offer as excitement without degrading itself to the level of poker?

Show me a man who says bluffing and trash talk are completely absent from chess and I'll show you a man who's never played Nathan the Nasty at the North Avenue Beach chess pavilion in Chicago.

Poker's relaxing, fun, and easy. And incredibly profitable. I made more in my first tournament than I've made in chess in 10 years.

Sure, I love chess, and it'll always be a fun diversion, but it's just something to be played for fun. I also like microwaving CDs for fun. They're about the same as far as practicality goes.

Pocket queens isn't too bad in chess either.

Cynical - well said. You see Leko hang the exchange (groans from the spectator gallery), then you cut over to Topalov's table and the commentators lay out the scene while he thinks: "Fritz puts White on a big advantage but Anand has really created some tricky possibilities ... Looks like Topalov needs to find Re3 here or he could get in trouble fast" etc etc. So when Topalov moves, the viewer already has been spoon-fed enough context to understand the implications (at some level). Some people will never get into it. But I think some would.

Good thread. I really enjoyed reading all of it. Of course I wanted to jump into the fight and argue with everyone. but I had to finish reading it all. so here I am ready to jump into the fight. and I no longer feel like fighting.

However, I would like to make one comment about our society. My opinion is that we need to stop trying to change the behavior of other people via control means. for example banning on line poker, making alcohol illegal, prohibition, no gambling etc.

We need to treat people as adults and allow them to make their decisions and allow them to fail. I believe the best way is to allow people to play poker lose their money and quit. all on their own decision.

It worked for me. I lost my newspaper route money at poker when I was a young kid and have not gambled since. of course it would have been nice for my mom or my dad to go over to the winner and take the money back and give it to me. but they just told me I had to accept responsibility for my decisions. I decided to gamble and I lost. and I accepted that.

So here I set playing chess on the internet. having a good time. no money involved.

Keep smiling. :)

it seems to me I remember reading about raising children it was pointed out how important it was in teaching children that we allow them to fail and to lose so that they learn by experience. that it was a big mistake to over protect children never allowing them to experience failure. sounds good. hurts when I lose however. LOL.

You can add me to the category of 'chessplayers who have made money in poker'. I collected all of seven quid in a game in the pub the other day.

Hey Frank, I guess you forgot to invest that money like a certain 'Oracle From Omaha' once did so many years ago. Heck, poker is simply a fun diversion in which you can win some and lose some. Personally, I think people who decide to play poker professionally are silly because many, many people will lose their money, while few will go from rags to riches. However, I guess that this is also another direct cause of capitalism.

You would be a quick learner and you could become a millionaire playing net poker Hikaru Nakamura. In chess you could be an exceptional and original world class player adored by countless chess fans. With no serious opening repertoire you have got to 2650 level. Definitely with age, experience and serious dedication you could push for 2750-2800 and who knows then, everything could be possible. Your complex and highly original fighting chess is a joy to the eye and definitely No one can out calculate you...

But are you abandoning that path...? Chess would lose. US chess even more.

Hikaru could be great at anything - going from 2650 to 2750 strikes me an awful waste of his brain.

That being said, he's one of the few guys who CAN make a good living at chess. Not a bad place to be.

I haven't posted on this blog before, but I've been following this thread for the last couple days. I am actually someone who quit professional chess to do cancer research. (Well, I quit serious chess to go to college, where I studied biology and then went on to do cancer research.) I'm not going to say something self-congratulatory like "I wanted to contribute to society," but I did want to do something more meaningful (in my mind) than moving pieces around on a board. However, this does not make me "noble," and it's very much a personal choice that should not be forced on anyone. Hikaru, who posted a little while earlier, obviously made a different choice, and that's perfectly fine.

But the discussion is not so much about pro chess as online poker. I have two thoughts about this:

(1) Banning online poker to protect compulsive gamblers really smacks of Big Brother. Shall we ban all self-destructive activities? Pretty much everyone knows that smoking causes lung cancer and other diseases, but some people still choose to smoke. I don't think anyone is suggesting making cigarettes illegal. What about alcohol? Being able to buy cheap liquor at your local convenience store sure makes it easier to become an alcoholic. And while we're at it, let's ban hamburgers so we can stop the obesity epidemic. Seriously - gamblers choose to gamble, and that's their right. The internet might make it easier, but it still comes down to personal choice. One of the things about being an adult in a free society is that you have the right to dig your own hole.

(2) Banning online poker so that smart young people will do something uself instead is also silly. You can't force someone to apply their intelligence for the betterment of society. Those who want to use their brains to try to solve medical and social problems will do so. Those who want to use their brains just to make money will find a way to do that instead. And while we're at it, if you want to talk about money-making pursuits that don't help society, you could do a lot worse than exploiting stupid people in online poker. How about the people who run HMOs? Maximixing profits by denying expensive but necessary treatments to dying patients. Or law (as someone already pointed out)? There is no shortage of lawyers who are basically a drain on society. But there is nothing you can do - in a free capitalist economy, that's what happens.

It's sad that there are stupid people who get addicted to online poker and lose all their money, and it too bad that other people choose to make a living by taking their money instead of creating something of value (social, artistic, whatever your definition of value is). But - the greatest thing about a free society is personal choice. And nothing is worth the price of taking it away.

"Noble" might not have been the best word to use, but most of us here are not the literary types who have expansive vocabularies. Instead "respected" might be better. Doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, ambulance drivers, soldiers, scientists, police officers, and caregivers were voted top respected professions in a poll. Not exactly the most profitable occupations, but voted by people as the professions that they respect. Professions that people revile include politicians, lawyers, real estate agent, MP, journalist, advertising, executive, car dealer, company director, and
accountant. Neutral professions were: traffic wardens, bar staff, waitresses, call centre staff, cleaners and roadsweepers.

Thank you, GM Nakamura: Rachmaninoff must be the answer!
I never yet played online poker listening to him, and always found it anything but relaxing. And, I fear I must add, only remunerative in a paltry way if I concentrated like a demon. (Well, what can you expect of a 1900 player?)

I suppose I must append that I am not making fun of GM Nakamura at all, just relating that I find online poker "harder" than chess as far as concentration goes. Bridge was similar, but there I know that I am spectacularly untalented.

Interesting quotation about the list of "respected" and "unrespected" professions. Especially when viewed as a sociological document: the influence of fashion is obvious. Police and soldiers would hardly have made the most-respected list prior to 9-11. In fact if you went back to the '70s (Vietnam War era) in the US, both those occupations would have made the "reviled" list, while "jounalist" (one of today's reviled professions) would have been on the most-respected list thanks to Woodstein's warm afterglow. And go back just 6 years or so from today (i.e., before Enron and its cousins), and you'd find "executive", "company director" and "accountant" on the most-respected list rather than the reviled list.

You can have 'respect' for professions you detest and dislike, in the same way you can respect your 'enemies'. There is something courageous about risking your life, even if we totally disagree with the motives.

2750 or 2800 is an awful waste of brain, but net-poker isn't, John Fernandez?

Which contributes more to the society, which can give more sense of achievement?

2750-2800+ rated American GM, consistently challenging for the world championship title would be recognized at least by couple of million americans. His artistic achievements would bring joy to thousands and thousands of people.

Are you just counting the dollars, or what is your criteria for achievement in general?

Chess is stupid, and makes you no money or fame.

Poker is stupid, but makes you a lot of money and fame.

Therefore chess 4: I got to 2437 USCF around 97 and retired from chess pretty much due to brokeness
5: Took up poker a while back and been eating lobster dinners ever since

This is a good time to update my post from last year stating my opinion that the chess/poker dynamic won't turn out well for chess. I'm now heavily into poker and haven't played a chess tournament in about 1.5 years and probably won't again. I just counted my poker books, which number 39. I've become profitable in poker within that time and don't miss spending big bucks on ChessBase, chess books, entry fees, etc. etc. Most of what I wrote below is still my opinion. Several points I made haven't been touched on in this thread yet, so hopefully will add to the discussion.

I played my first chess tournament about 25 years ago, while my first poker tournament was early this year. I doubt seriously that I'll ever play another chess tournament, but I hope to play many more poker tournaments in both the near and far future. My reasons, which I don't think are all that unique:

1. When a serious chess player passes 40, his results are highly unlikely to equal his past efforts, for many reasons:
A. Keeping up with opening theory becomes more and more burdensome, with no such burden in poker. Chess requires an enormous amount of study just to try an maintain whatever level you're on.
B. Energy levels are lower and it's extremely hard to maintain in even one tournament chess game, let alone a whole tournament. Poker requires much less concentration and many more breaks during competition. In chess, every move must be made with extreme care, while in poker most of your decisions are comparatively easy.
C. This one surprised me: I really hate it when I play poker correctly, but lose when my opponent lucks out because of an unlikely turn of the card. HOWEVER, I actually find that easier to take than a loss in a tournament chess game. Losing a tournament chess game feels terrible and you can't blame it on anyone or anything but yourself. As I get older, it gets no easier: It's harder because the mistakes I make are evidence of overall decline. You can't fool yourself in chess. It's true there's more "justice" in chess because if you lose it's because you deserve to lose, but as I age I don't need to get that slap in the face anymore.

2. Contrary to what many seem to think here, poker is NOT more expensive than chess. I've literally owned over 1,000 chess books in my life, each of which were fairly expensive. If I owned every poker book ever written it might come out to, what, 40 maybe? I also don't need to spend big bucks for ChessBase and all the other software that's necessary for a good player. Big savings there.
Also, I've paid entry fees to hundreds of chess tournaments and, even though I was pretty good (Expert rating), never finished a year in the black. I've also witnessed the Grandmasters try to eek out a living: It's tough for them to win enough money just to pay all their expenses. A huge payday is almost impossible unless they can make it into the world's top 10. A poker player can win thousands in one evening with little expense.
So, in poker, the monetary risk/reward is extremely favorable in comparison to chess.

3. As for marketability to the general public, poker has a big edge because it is easier to understand. Many people spend much of their free time on chess and don't even get a GLIMPSE of the deeper levels of the game. While poker has subtlety too, observers can still have a good idea what is going on.
Also, if you watch things like the World Series of Poker, they only show the hands where something is going on. Many people don't even realize they're watching an edited version of the game. How can you do that in chess? I don't think you can. Each move in chess is significant and you can't skip some of it without saying "we're skipping some of it." I DO agree that chess tournaments could be presented in a version somewhat like poker does, but it still will never have the same appeal. Forget it.

4. Poker is inherently social, while chess is not. Sure, us chess players converse outside the game, but tournament chess is not social. Players aren't talking during their games. Casual games may have some conversation, but it's still rather limited. Poker you have a full table and plenty of conversation even if it's the Final Table of the World Series of Poker, thus it has more appeal to most people.

So, chess must stand and fall on its own merits. Dreams of it becoming mainstream are unrealistic, imho. I say this as someone who always tried my best to promote the game. I organized and ran tournaments for no profit for many years, for example. I spent endless hours of my youth and adulthood on chess. I don't have the energy for it anymore between aging and health problems. I believe that's part of the reason why attendance at adult chess tournaments is on such a steep decline.

Poker, specifically Texas Hold'em, is still very challenging, btw. The rise of that specific type of poker, which was virtually unknown outside of Texas until recently, is part of the reason for the decline in adult participation in chess. Don't shoot the messenger please: Jmho.

I'd like to add and clarify some points from the post I made above.

First, I still do play blitz fairly frequently on ICC. (Old habits die hard.) However, my play is so horrible compared to the way I used to play that playing only causes anguish. I've become older and am now disabled. I never would have believed that my standard of play could go so far below where I used to play, but it has. There's no joy anymore in chess; just misery. I suspect that this is true for many people who pass a certain age and/or develop serious conditions that make it virtually impossible to play at anything close to former standards. Given that: Why do it anymore, especially now that there's a viable alternative in Hold'em Poker?

Second, regarding the dream of chess really taking off with the general public, I used to have lots of enthusiasm for the game and tried to promote it. I organized and ran tournaments for no profit. I gave enthusiastic chess lessons to anyone that wanted them, including in schools. I wanted to see chess become more mainstream. I wanted to share my love for the game.
Unfortunately, I've learned that it just can't happen. Chess may become more popular than it is, but mostly only with those predisposed to have an interest in it. It's the type of people we are.
Analogy: I often try to get people to watch t.v. shows on channels such as Discovery Channel and History Channel. To me, these shows are far more interesting than the drivel that's shown during primetime on the networks. I don't watch any weekly network shows: No sitcoms, no t.v. dramas, and no reality shows, for example. To me, there are fascinating things to watch on other channels. I encourage people to watch certain shows on those channels. Guess what?? I get a yawn and a comment about it being an "educational" ie, "boring" show, and then the person talks about Survivor or Lost or whatever piece of crap the networks show. The mentality of most people is that they want to watch that stuff rather than the "boring" educational stuff on Discovery, et al. They don't want intellectual stimulation: They want to vege out in front of the t.v.
Sure, Discovery, TLC, History Ch, etc. have decent viewership, but NOT EVEN CLOSE to your average crappy thing on the networks. It mystifies and disheartens me, but that's the reality of people's interests.
Also, there's a definite anti-intellectual bias by most Americans. Learning is "boring" and smart people are harangued as "nerds" and being a nerd is a bad thing in their eyes. You think you're going to sell chess to them??
So...Chess mainstream in America? Forget about it. It won't happen.

A realistic goal is to go after those people who may not know much about chess, but are predisposed to learn about it. The style of the t.v. coverage of poker can be used as a model for getting the interest of some people. If it's done right, it will bring in some potential people, imho. It's a great idea to learn how the poker shows do it and copy if, with adjustments, and see how it goes. Just don't expect the type of boom there is in Hold'em.

Another poster mentioned that some view chess as "a little kids' game." I wouldn't have believed it before I saw it, but it's true that it is viewed like that by older kids. I've taught chess in schools and would get lots of enthusiastic first and second graders. As much as I tried, the older kids couldn't be brought into it because of their attitude that chess is only for little kids. No amount of discussion from me would change their minds.
If you look at scholastic chess, the vast majority of kids playing are elementary school kids. Once they get to middle school, they leave the games in droves. They're not quitting as adults, they're quitting before they even make it to high school. Middle school and high school kids want to be "cool" and an intellectual exercise is the antithesis of cool.
My experience in this isn't just with other kids, I have two daughters whom I'd taught the game at a young age. One stuck with it for a good bit of time, but the day she started middle school she was outta there. No way, no how, did she want to be labled a nerd. (There's that anti-intellectualism thing again.)

Lastly, chess players are often considered to be odd outsiders with no social skills. All the press on the recent Bobby Fischer drama only reinforced that serious chess players have a screw loose. What parent wants their kid to grow up to be Fischer?? His words are reprehensible, he's obviously on the lunatic fringe, and is badly in need of a psychiatrist and the proper medications. For most non-chess playing Americans, Fischer IS chess and if that's the way he is, what parent would ever want to risk their child turning out like him?

Don't get me wrong, learning chess from a decent chess coach can be a great thing for kids and can help in many ways. It teaches many good lessons, but if a child is to truly become world-class, then the enormous amount of time necessary to devote to the game is enough to put many parents off. After all, this is America and parents want their kids to grow up to have well-paying jobs. For this to happen when chess is your chosen occupation is a very, very long shot.

There's also the issue of poor organization on the international, national, and state level. As long as I've been around the game, there's been absurd infighting over tiny pieces of turf. People in positions of "power" in chess usually seem focused on their own interests rather than on promoting chess. Petty vindictive battles are the status quo. Maybe that will change, but I wouldn't bet on it unfortunately.

So, I believe chess will alway just be a small niche hobby. The challenge may be to find a way to increase adult participation in tournaments. Attendence in adult OTB events is dreadful. Whether this can be reversed, I don't know. I fought the good fight for many, many years, but I'm done.
See ya' at the poker tables! ;-)

Nicely expressed GhostGator, but isn't poker inherently and in it's soul about the gambling rush? You can play chess for hours for no other gain than intellectual and artistic entertainment, but who would play poker for imaginary Interner Poker Club rating points and no money? No one?

While many casual poker players play to gamble, any serious poker player most definitely does NOT play for a "gambling rush." People who win at poker over the long haul, by definition, are those who try to play as well as possible. Playing as well as possible doesn't include "rolling the dice" unless necessary.

Also, many people DO play poker online at the free sites. Of course, they're not the good players and good players avoid free play as a waste of time.

I can confirm Dan Harrington won the 1971 Mass. Open, which is the state championship.
Riffing through an old book, I came across another interesting chess/poker connection: Howard Lederer. Lederer grew up in NH, and played tournaments before giving it up for poker. His last published rating was in 1990, at 1951.

As a poker/chess player myself (as with a few friends who are not just poker players, but professional poker players in addition to being chess players), I think I have a different perspective that might be worth sharing.

First of all as a response to GhostGators comments, there are more than 40 poker books, probably within year's time there will be almost as many poker books written as there are chess books as there are tons of poker books being produced in much the same fashion as chess books ( to be fair, you can't just access a database of hands, add a few notes to them and make it a book... unless you're talking about the very good book 3rd in Harrington's tournament poker series). I see poker and chess as two completely different pursuits.

Live games are very different, but online poker I would call far less social (at least in a positive way) than chess tournaments. At chess tournaments I meet new people all the time by analyzing games with my opponents or just hanging out the skittles room and made many new friends with this, I think the comraderie is also better as especially among the stronger players they generally have a somewhat similar quest to improve.
As for online poker, I've seen things in the chat that few people would be willing to say in person and these include but are not limited to physical threats, name calling, racist comments, sexist comments, and excessive profanity (even more than Phil Hellmuth after he loses a pot). One might say that ICC has some of the same characters, but I think it's much tamer and people tend to be more civilized there are a whole.

Income from poker:
I mean there are 3 reasons people can make money from poker:
1) Players are rewarded quite often in the short run, especially in tournament. I'm a big tournament player myself, I can tell you I've seen some very poor play lead to tournament victories, to the non-academic these types of re-enforcement of bad play is very hard to work out. Of course on the other end players might think they're doing everything right and just getting "unlucky" and that the run will work itself out. (This is possible for some players, but I think very few of those claiming it)

2) Players who play for entertainment. There are many of these players who have no aspirations to one day win the world series, but might enjoy the prospect of partaking in an intellectual battle with other competitors. There are lifetime 1400 players who still enjoy chess and have no dreams of winning the world open much in the same way.

3) Players who see poker as an easy source of money. There are many stories of people who have found making a living at poker quite easy. I think these cases do exist, but eventually people who stick with it take a very scholarly approach to the game, they're thinking very hard about ways to improve their game and realize the complexity of situations to be analyzed. I think it's tempting to think of poker - especially live poker - as a game of "reading" people and I'm sure the average person thinks they have an above average understanding of the human condition so this is a very tempting opinion. I find that while good reads eventually become an important part of the game, I think it's less about looking for tells in other players as really understanding the game and its situations and being able to extrapolate logical conclusion applied either intuitively (yes, this makes sense) or mathematically to their knowledge of probability. I didn't realize how transparent this was until I was watching some high stakes on GSN and I saw Negraneau lay down a hand not because he thought he had a read on the other player, but because he logically deduced there were too few hands that made sense as a logical consequence of the actions that he was beating to call. You might call this a "read", but I think it's no different than solving a tactical puzzle except that at each branch instead of one line determining all it would be assigning some probability to it. Certainly this process becomes more accurate with "reads", but so often when I'm playing online or live I heard players say something like "I put you on Ace-King" which to any experienced and intellectual player is known to be a typical overly restrictive analysis of the situation. I think it compares well to ChessCafe author Dan Heisman's view of "hope chess" which is not considering your opponents moves or a too limiting set of their moves.

I think the tendency of good chess players to become good poker players is to understand where objectivity makes sense and to try to make decisions as objectively as possible. This along with the ability to be very introspective about mistakes (i.e. admitting to multiple mistakes in a won game) that chessplayers bring very well over to poker.

Joshua- the best and most balanced critique so far. As someone who is considering taking up poker online, it certainly gives me food for thought in how to approach the game. The "hope chess" analogy strikes a particular chord.

Hey, all you people here saying chess is total waste of time - do you think Computer Science is useful? Go to a bookstall and pick up any book on Artificial Intelligence. Most likely it will have big sections on state space search techniques - heuristic, minimax and alpha-beta with plenty of examples from chess. The role of chess in development of these cannot be underestimated.. You can imagine why that is so if you realize that chess has 10 to the power of 120 estimated positions... which is way too many for an exhaustive search.. and it is a few more than what you would get in games like say tick-tac-toe.

So after all chess has done atleast something for the betterment of mankind??

Hey, all you people here saying chess is a total waste of time - do you think Computer Science is useful? Go to a bookstall and pick up any book on Artificial Intelligence. Most likely it will have big sections on state space search techniques - heuristic, minimax and alpha-beta with plenty of examples from chess. The role of chess in development of these cannot be underestimated.. You can imagine why that is so if you realize that chess has 10 to the power of 120 estimated positions... which is way too many for an exhaustive search.. and it is a few more than what you would get in games like say tick-tac-toe.

So after all chess has done atleast something for the betterment of mankind??

I liked Josh's comments about poker income - especially No. 1 which seems to imply the number of people who actually make money from it over time is some fraction (my off-the-cuff guess would be around 5%) of the number who brag that they are doing so.

It's the same with stock investing: when the market is hot, everyone's a genius; when the market is cold, everyone chooses something else to talk about because they'd rather not admit they lost every dollar they made during the boom and more.

Probably the same in the competitive heterosexual pick-up scene (which, hilariously, has in recent years won some acceptance as a "sub-culture" that respectable publishers now publish guidebooks about, and a clique of self-proclaimed experts charge five-figure sums for "retreats" and seminars that teach others how to become a "PUA").

Also worth reading on the subject of poker/chess differences and similarities, is Ben Johnson's comments in the June Chess Life, within his coverage of the Rejkavik Open.

One quibble: Josh you must be frequenting higher-class chess sites than I do. Strings of profanity are pretty common among losers of online chess games (and sometimes even the winner of an online chess game will thank his opponent by unleashing a message composed solely of insults and cursewords). Empty threads to tell the admins you're a "compabuser" rank second among post-game greetings from losers -- although I'm now seeing this much less often than 3 or 4 years ago.

My alltime favorite postgame exchange was this one on playchess, Chessbase's server, which some people (not me) consider as good as ICC:

rightofreturn (his first comment immediately after losing a single game to me):
(string of unprintable cursewords)

me: Your personality matches your handle. Verbal suicidebomber?

rightofreturn: The ovens are waiting, kike.

I don't think it's the highclass chess servers, but unfortunately the low class that comes out when people are playing for money. (See World Open 2006 :) )

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