Thursday, July 27, 2006

Media Day and Fullt Tilt Gala

I'm hungover again after another late night party. Last night was the Full Tilt Gala at Pure and all the biggest names in poker were out in force. CJ arrived in town and he joined Change100 and I at the gala along with several folks from the PokerStars Blog like Mad, James, and Howard. Wil snagged me an invite and I'm grateful that he didn't want to go. I hung out with the usual suspects... Friedman, Amy, Jen Leo, Caldwell, and met Howard Lederer and Annie Duke's step-mom who's a big fan of the Tao of Poker.

I only took a few photos and most of them didn't come out. I guess it was one of the ten vodka and red bulls. I saw Chau Giang with a very young woman that I hoped was his daughter. Jose Canseco and Carl Lewis played in the charity tournament and I got blinding drunk with Jay Greenspan and Storms Reback at one of the twelve bars they had in the swanky club. We wanted to do shots with John Juanda! I ran into Liz Lieu who invited me to her birthday party at Pure on Sunday. Pure twice in one week?

I loathe this time at the WSOP. The days before the main event are just brutally awful when hundreds of press come in from out of town (and all over the world) to set up shop all over the Rio. I'm territorial about my space in the media room. Many of us who've been here since the first week (over a month ago) have been discovering that our usually seats in the media room have been taken over by people we've never seen before.

The new media reps are easy to spot versus those of us who've been here for four weeks. We have that agitated look like, "Don't fuckin' talk to me!" on our faces that are marked by dark circles around our eyes from lack of sleep. The newbie media reps are fresh off of flights to McCarran with shiny new press badges. Most of them have never been to the WSOP or a live tournament before. They go ape shit when they see Texas Dolly and rush into the ropes to take photos of the "Hot Pro du Jour."

It's these same media reps who flew in the day before the main event that ruined the future of media coverage at the 2005 WSOP. In some ways, I don't blame Harrah's for placing restrictions on the media after what went down last year. Those of us who had been here for weeks were serious poker reporters and did our best to stay out of the way of the players in the tournaments. But the newbies ruined it for us. They had no experience covering a tournament and used flash photography, pestered players for interviews while they were in the middle of hands, and stood over the tables while the action went on. Even when they were told what they were doing was wrong... the still did it. What did they care? They were in town for a story and were going to get it no matter what.

Harrah's was right in blocking the media's coverage during the main event on the floor last year. It was ridiculous. Gutshot had like twenty guys running around. Internet sites that I never head of before had folks running around taking photos and clogging up the aisles.

Harrah's should have did a little homework this year and found out which folks are the ones who ruined the party. Those asstards who show up the day before the main event and act like idiots should bear the brunt of media restrictions... not vets like Flipchip, BJ, Otis, Amy Calistri, Dan Michalski, Mike Paulle and myself who follow poker year round on various tours like the WSOP circuit events, WPT, EPT, and UPC. It's fucked up that a small group of us that have been here since Day 1 gets punished for the actions of people we've never met before and media reps in flyover states that we'd probably never see again.

Plus those idiots have been taking up all the space in the media room. I had to sit in the hallway on Monday to write because of the lack of power strips in the room. Last year at this time, I was spent and had zero energy. I tried to pace myself this year so when this time came around, I'd have some energy left in reserve to better compete against fresh troops.

Last night I missed an incident in the media room involving Justin from Poker Pages. He's been here since Day 1 and working his ass off like the rest of us. Some woman came into the room and took over his seat without asking. She demanded the space.

"My job is more important than yours," she barked at him.

She works for the suits at Harrah's and that was the first time anyone saw her. She totally blew it too. We're not vultures like the rest of the media. If she simply asked, "Do you mind if I use your space for a few minutes until I get this done?" She would have gotten her way. Instead she was spiteful and disrespectful and throwing her weight around. She belittled the work that so many of us had been doing over the past four plus weeks.

Incidents like this are growing as other media outlets send in teams of media to cover the WSOP. Last year Justin from Card Player got into a scuffle with Jesse May's camera crew. Fights among media reps are not uncommon and some of us that have been sucking down casino oxygen over the past few weeks are ticking time bombs.

Harrah's is not prepared for the throngs of media circling around the tournament area like vultures jacked up on crystal meth ready to pick a part any story that they can find. As a whole, the media are like a gang of roving rapists who will force themselves onto the story even if you scream, "No!"

I suggested to Nolan that the newbies get issued new badges that indicate "I just showed up for the main event" and that they should share their own media space (like in an unairconditioned tent behind the dumpster in the parking lot). It's a shame for some of my friends who had been gutting out in the trenches since Day 1 get stuck working on the floor in the hallway.

Yes, I'm bitter and dealing with it. The WSOP main event is going to start on Friday and I'm going to have to adapt to these new changes in media restrictions and with the hordes of media elbowing each other to get the same fuckin' photo of Phil Ivey. I'm outnumbered and drowning in assholes.

Not to fear. I'll do my best to get the story about the main event. That's why I'm really here. The first four weeks of the WSOP were just foreplay. The main event is when we all get laid. I'm better rested this year and in much better head space. I'm ready to cover the main event for several media outlets including:
PokerStars Blog
Fox Sports and MSN
Poker Player Newspaper
Poker Pro Magazine
On the good news front, later today is the media/celebrity event. Last year I made the final table and took 6th place making the money. Yeah, I have one WSOP final table to my credit. I'm playing for the Charlie Tuttle Foundation... the same charity I played at last year. When I was in Nashville visiting the Spaceman and Mrs. Spaceman, we drove past the hospital on Vanderbilt's campus where the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Clinic is located. That's where my final table winnings went last year. I'm hoping to make another donation in Charlie's name this year.

Yeah, I got super lucky last year and had both Glyph, Tuscaloosa Johnny, and AlCantHang on the rail for me. I won the "last longer bet" between my friends. I found A-A in back-to-back hands and busted four people including Otis. I also cracked Shannon Elizabeth's A-A with J-J and sent her to the rail.

I'll do my best to return to the final table this year. In the two media events I've played in... I made the final table at both. I took 3rd at the LA Poker Classic's media event in January. Babs Enright busted me from a bad beat, one of four she issued to me that day.

Stay tuned for pics and more updates.

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