Here's something that has been puzzling me about this year's World Series of Poker: Why are some members of Team Full Tilt playing and others not?
First I have to be clear about who I'm talking about. The number of pros sponsored in some form by Full Tilt is bewildering, and they use a system of different labels that makes sense to almost nobody outside the family: There's the CardRunner bunch, the Hendon Mob, something called "Team Limpers," then a whole raft of "pros" and nearly as long a list of "friends."
I'm not talking about any of these lesser folks. I'm talking about those at the top of the hierarchy. The official "Team Full Tilt" consists of Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, John Juanda, Jennifer Harman, Phil Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, Gus Hansen, Allen Cunningham, Patrik Antonius, and Tom Dwan. See the list and bios here. (Interestingly, while all the other categories of FTP pros are listed alphabetically, this group is not. I suspect this ordering reflects something about power and/or controlling interest in the company, but who knows?)
Of those, I know that Juanda, Harman, Lindgren, Matusow, Cunningham, and Dwan have been playing many tournaments at the WSOP. Ivey is famously abstaining, while he sues his (former?) friends. I believe that Lederer, Ferguson, Gordon, Seidel, Bloch, Hansen, and Antonius have not made appearances, though I could be wrong about some of those; I'm just basing this on who I've seen news stories about, and maybe one or two of them are playing but without any success so far that would bring them to my attention. In an ordinary year, we would have seen all of them out in force, though some (e.g., Lederer, Gordon) typically play fewer events than the others.
My curiosity is about what distinguishes those who are playing in 2011 from those who are not. It could be nothing deeper than personal preferences--who is willing to endure the questions and criticisms and anger from a big room full of pissed-off former customers who all want their money back?
But there are other possible answers. Maybe what distinguishes the players from the non-players reveals something about the ownership structure of the company, and those with enough controlling interest to be worried about criminal indictments are laying low. Maybe it has to do with who had so much of their bankroll on deposit with FTP that they're stuck being unable to buy in now, like lots of other ordinary players. Maybe it depends on what advice they have each individually received from their attorneys and/or PR people.
I don't know the answer, but I sure would be interested in finding out.