Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hold Em Poker for February 2010 tournament....the best World Series of poker in a decade

I've been playing Texas Hold Em lately. Probably way too much for my own good, so if my analogy is strained, you know what to blame. But as we approach the 2010 Democratic primary, it's a huge poker tournament. Let me explain.

Eric Zorn kicks off the campaign season with his call for Attorney General Lisa Madigan to go all in and announce now that she is running for governor.  Think of the 2010 primary, as I have increasingly done, as a poker table. There are savvy players around the table. Lisa Madigan, Pat Quinn, Dan Hynes, Paul Vallas, Jack Franks, Alexi Giannoulias and, of course, Rod Blagojevich. These are all smart, aggressive, good players. And they are all holding their cards close to the vest.

Now, if someone bets hard (say, Lisa announces that she's all in, or Alexi announces he is running for sure), that will cause some players, even with good cards, to fold. No one is folding now. So who will go in first? If a player with a low chip stack goes all in (say, Jack Franks) and announces that he is running, will that cause anyone else to fold? Probably not. What if someone bets lightly by announcing an exploratory committee? Probably won't cause anyone else to fold. So who is going all in?

That's the delicious season of anticipation that we're in now.

Then the fun part is in the ripple effect. For the first time in a decade, lots of offices can open up. Senator Obama's seat will be open in 2010, as will every statewide state elected. So if both Dan Hynes and Pat Quinn run for governor, then Comptroller and Lt. Governor are both open. In other words, in one way or another, every part of the Illinois Democratic Party is around the 2010 poker table with seven different offices to fill, at least half of which are likely to be open seats. So everyone in the state gets to play. It's going to be very exciting.

People who are better at hold em than I am can explain how most of the game's success is in the strategy of betting. And over the next six months, we get to see how the best players in the party bet with the hands they've been dealt.

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