What the World Series of Poker Means to Me
I want to start off by saying that I am not bitter that I’m not in Las Vegas right now. Okay, a little disappointed that the Rini Inc. private jet doesn’t have enough fuel to get to Sin City but not bitter.
That being said, this time of year seems so contrived to me. You have about two months of journalists/bloggers, PR people, poker rooms, etc, all trying to make something out of what is usually nothing. Day after day everyone has to come up with some reason to make it seem as if something exciting is going on regardless of the lack of anything exciting actually going on.
Listen, I don’t want to take away anything from the winner of the $1000 WSOP Tiddlywinks bracelet but the vast majority of events during the WSOP are barely even newsworthy. Unless Phil Ivey or some other big name pro is at the final table (which in most events, they’re not) then for the vast majority of the poker world the event never even took place.
The biggest online poker rooms pay out a bigger prize every Sunday than some of the WSOP events. While I’m quick to give a congrats to winners, is anybody really impressed if you won the $1000 buy-in hold’em event? Will anybody remember your name the next day? Yet, nearly the entire poker journalism/blogging world is there covering every boring detail.
And don’t get me wrong . . . I know many of these bloggers/journalists quite well. I know they put in long hours, have pretty much thankless jobs, and put up with a lot of crap. I’ve had many private conversations with them where they’ve told me that after the first few weeks they can barely even muster up the creative juices to write. But they have to or they don’t get paid (or they get fired). And out of that need to write comes some rather predictable outcomes.
The first, and most obvious outcome, is that they desperately try to find some interesting angle to write about. Even the most mundane factoids about players becomes the talk of the town. What, the winner collects coins? Yep. Wow, so even a coin collector can come to Las Vegas and win a WSOP bracelet. Isn’t that great, folks?
The second predictable outcome is that the above mundane fact will become the focus of every journalist/blogger covering the WSOP. One journalist/blogger might have overheard the eventual winner talking about his coin collection at a dinner break the day before and then he tells one of his journalist/bogging buddies who is also looking for a reason why this event is of any interest to anybody other than the players and then he tells two friends and so on and so on and so on.
Writing About Writing About Poker
When all else fails journalists and bloggers can write about writing about the WSOP. They can write about their hotel rooms, running into other journalists/bloggers, what time they get home, whether they’re tired from partying the night before, or pretty much anything but poker. That’s fine if you run a personal blog but if you’re supposed to be writing poker news it’s not really what the readers signed up for.
Doing Anything to Get Attention
OMG, if I see one more talentless poker hack making a prop bet or trying to do something outlandish in order to get media attention I’m going to call Dr. Pauly and bet him I can’t stick 30 Twinkies up my nose in under 10 minutes. Just my own humble personal opinion but every effort should be made not to write about this kind of stuff. First of all, it presents poker players as sick, degenerate gamblers who will bet on anything. And secondly it only encourages other idiots.
The Year of the _______________
Every year all of the bloggers/journalists try to find a theme to sum up the entire WSOP. Year of the Woman, Year of the Europeans, Year of the Brits, Year of the Amateurs, Year of the Pros. Okay, we get it. You’ve worn this one out, guys.
Trying to Link Everything to Poker
This year the poker press has been trying to tie Joran van der Sloot (the guy who confessed to killing that woman in Peru and was a suspect in the Natalee Holloway murder) to poker. I’ve seen/read this story in all sorts of various non-poker media outlets and while some make a passing mention to him playing in a poker tournament in South America only the poker press is playing him up as a professional poker player. Why? Do you really want to keep associating people like that to a game already under intense scrutiny? Why associate ourselves with scumbags?
It’s good for maybe one mention. If you’re writing your fifth update on the van der Sloot case, you’re really reaching for something to write about. Gambling911, at this moment, has four spots on its homepage about the van der Sloot. What does that tell you?
Focus on Gadgetry / Technology
Last year all the talk was about smart phones and Twittering. Now, everybody is talking about the iPad. What will it mean for poker? Who’s got an iPad? What are pro players using their iPads for?
Better yet, who cares?
You can’t run poker software on them (maybe you can in the no-download version – depending on the site). You can’t use them at the table. They’re basically a really large enhanced iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love one myself and may end up getting one at some point but it has NOTHING to do with poker. Unless Daniel Negreanu or Andy Bloch are paid spokesmen for Apple do we really need multiple video segments on them using an iPad?
The guys out there writing about the WSOP know I love them. Many are guys/girls I’ve had the pleasure of swapping chips with in Vegas or even in home games. My respect for what they do is not a question here.
But there is some sort of flaw in the system. When one looks at events like the Olympics or the World Cup which also span a considerable period of time you don’t see the same problems.
Maybe the WSOP has too many events. Maybe Harrah’s needs to handle reporting and sell access to the feed like AP or Reuters. I’m not close enough to the problem to know all of the root causes and best possible solutions but last year I wrote another post complaining about WSOP coverage and nothing has been improved. In fact, if some of my friends are to be believed, it’s gotten worse. As a consumer, I see it as worse.
When are we going to get better results?