I've been in Niagara Falls since last Wednesday and hey, it's pretty damn cool here. I had a day or two at the beginning to do the gawking tourist thing, walking around and taking photos of lots of falling water, but the last three days have been pretty freaking hectic as far as covering the WPT North American Poker Championship for the blog over at PokerRoom.com.
Much of the hectic has been of the pretty freaking annoying variety, as it's completely and utterly unnecessary. Working 13-14 hour days during the opening starting days is pretty much standard, but having to run across the street to our hotel and up to my room to post any updates? Not so standard. Not being able to even have a laptop within rock-throwing distance of the tournament room? Not so standard.
A lot of the hassle is due to local gaming laws, as far as requiring that media apply in advance through the WPT to get screened and officially approved in order to set up near the tournament room, but therein lies the rub, as far as the WPT's role. In this day and age of media exclusivity at poker tournaments it's far too easy for the WPT to simply lose your email address and phone number when alerting media previously registered for events as to the restrictions and regulations here, and to somehow ignore half a dozen requests to register as non-exclusive media for the tournament.
In the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal at all. Just highly annoying, as far as the WPT making everything as difficult as possible for any media outlet that isn't CardPlayer. Which is a shame, as I'm not going to pack up my bags and go home, so all you really end up doing is making my job much more difficult, for no reason or gain whatsoever. I completely understand the need to generate cash through exclusivity agreements, especially if you're a poorly managed company on the brink of financial doom, but it's kind of a sad state of things, and one in which no one wins. The WPT staves off bankruptcy for a bit longer, so I guess that's a win, but an empty media room with a couple of laptops isn't doing poker as a whole much good, especially when the CardPlayer coverage is as bad as it is.
But enough venting. It's more due to tired feet and a sore back from all the footing it back and forth, which I likely shouldn't even gripe about, as it's at least healthier than sitting on my butt all this time.
The overall turnout was a little disappointing, as they only ended up drawing 504 runners. Which is slightly above last year's figures, and there's nothing terrible about that, but organizers had been promising a blowout field of 600-700 entries, right up until Sunday morning (the last starting day), even though it was ainfully obvious at that point that they'd be lucky to hit 500.
The legal age to enter casinos here is 19, so the overall field is pretty damn young, with many of the online wunderkids who aren't yet 21 making the trip here. Cracks me up sitting on the rails watching the action and hearing assorted packs of wunderkids discussing life, their plans that night, etc. I can't even imagine being 19 again, much less 19 with a couple of hundred thousands dollars in bricks of cash in a duffelbag, trying to decide what to do that night.
Haven't played a single hand of poker so far, and I'm not sure that'll change. Other than being insanely busy with work here, the waiting list for 5/5/ NL at the casino was 5 or 6 hours deep for much of the weekend, although things cleared out once the weekend was over. I'm fairly cash-poor at the moment with all my house-buying, and playing with slightly scared money isn't too much fun. The wife arrived on Saturday so I'm probably going to use what little free time I have to go do touristy things with here, instead of the normal degenerate time killing.