Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Wonderful World of the WPT

This is my first experience doing the poker tournament reporting thing at a WPT event, and so far it's been, umm, interesting.

It's not completely disorganized, but it's kind of an odd thing. It's hard to tell how much of the oddness is intentional, such as having the "media room" for the non-exclusive media folks located along one wall of the sushi bar/grill at the Bike, with two tiny tables available to set up laptops and other stuff. I ended up cramming myself into the corner behind the piano, with my laptop on a bar stool, which actually worked decently well.

Not much other media here at all other than Card Player, who has the exclusive rights for WPT events. The media restrictions are pretty draconian for other non-exclusive media that want to do the normal reporting thing, as far as using chip counts, hand histories, etc. If you're non-exclusive, you can walk around the tournament room, but you can't report on anything you witness directly. You can, however, report on anything a player tells you outside the room, as well as report anything that you're told during breaks. So heresay is fine, just nothing you directly observe.

Which obviously doesn't make a lot of sense. As far as the work I'm doing for PokerRoom, it really doesn't impact it at all. If anything, it makes it easier, as I'm really here to track the progress of their qualifiers, and checking in with them at the breaks every ninety minutes works fine for me. For other media outlets, though, the restrictions hamstring them to the point that many choose not to come, and the ones that did were wondering why the hell they bothered.

The mercenary, business-like part of me can subscribe to the notion that if Card Player was willing to fork over the money for exclusive rights, then they get to make the rules, no matter how sensical or non-sensical they are. That said, I think PokerNews did a good job at the WSOP of proving that you can have exclusive rights to an event and still allow other non-exclusive media to do their jobs, too. In the end it just boils down to the fact that if you hire a good team and provide great coverage, it really doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. If you're the exclusive provider but have pretty mediocre coverage and are scared of the competition, well, then I suppose it's not too surprising to see pretty restrictive rules put into place.

Today is Day 1b of the WPT Legends event, but it's going to be kind of odd, as we actually don't have any players playing today. Six of them chose yesterday as their starting day, and the one that was supposed to play today had to withdraw, flying back home to Austria after spending the last few days puking his guts out.

Three of the guys made it through to Day 2, and a couple of them have pretty healthy stacks, so hopefully at least one of them will make a serious run in this thing. It definitely makes my job much more enjoyable when we've still got players in the mix.

It's been interesting covering a non WSOP major event, as far as it being a much smaller field with many more pros and circuit regulars. I can't say the general impression is exactly a glowing endorsement of the "glamorous" world of professional tournament poker. No real cautionary tales or scenes in general, but the tournament room in general radiates a fairly palpable sense of equal parts boredom/unhappiness/resignation. It's not really depressing, but more that I get the snese most people wouldn't be there, if they had anywhere else to be that offered the same opportunity.

No time for any live poker yesterday, but I did play a SnG at one of the electronic tables with the crew. My first experience with one of the electronic tables, and I can't say I hated it. I haven't heard bloggers and other players say much positive about the electronic tables, and I can't offer any glowing praise, but I thought they worked pretty well. I wouldn't choose one over a live table, if offered the choice, but I also wouldn't wait fifteen minutes for the live table, if an electronic one was ready to go. In the end it's poker.

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