The Amazon Room here at the Rio is very large and extremely crowded. Day after day I have to face the fear of walking into a room with hundreds of people and usually I'm alone. Thinking back it was silly for me to worry about a bunch of school kids that I never saw when high school was over. One could argue that it's equally silly for me to have knots in my stomach today, but I guess we can't help how we feel.
Thankfully, when I walk into the Amazon Room, I know that I can always find Change100 somewhere on the floor. I can count on her for a smile, a knowing glance and usually a bit of guidance, and we aren't even working on the same team. She's a strong, successful, hard working female, and I've always admired her from afar. Instead of running away when I enter the room now, I find my friend, and she makes me feel comfortable. By the time I leave my day job and head to the Rio, Change has already been here for over six hours, so she quickly fills me in on what events are playing, who busted out, who was sent out on a stretcher, and who shouldn't be wearing those shoes.
I love it that Change and I are cut from the same cloth when it comes to fashion, but she's evolved into so much more than that. A year ago she worked for Pokerblog (PartyPoker's blog), and she covered the WSOP for the last three weeks of the event. This year, she's working for PokerNews and things have changed quite a bit.
So, how does this year differ from last year? "There is a lot more pressure this year!" Change said. "PokerNews is the official provider of live updates and chip counts for the WSOP, and we're all busting our asses out there to bring poker lovers the best tournament coverage we can. The hours are a lot longer-- I worked 90 hours my first week of the WSOP and average about 12-14 hours a day now. It's intense, but I'm the sort of person that thrives on pressure. How else could I have survived eight years in Hollywood?"
Speaking of Hollywood, how does it feel to be covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas instead of hobnobbing with the big boys in L.A.? Do you have any regrets? "When I first lost my film exec job in February '06, I thought I'd just take a few months off and live life for a while. The further I got away from Hollywood, the happier I realized I was. Getting thrown off the Hollywood cliff was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It left me with no excuses to pursue what I think is my true calling, writing. I'd like to return to Hollywood as a screenwriter in the near future, but I have no desire to put that black BCBG suit back on and sit behind a desk taking calls from rude agents and D-people all day".
We've all heard the horror stories about Harrah's and of course there is always something to improve on. One of the things they did differently this year is that they added a tent outside since there wasn't enough room inside for all of the tables. Personally, I'm cold all the time, so I don't mind the tent, but if I was working here full time, I think my attitude would be different. She confirmed my thoughts. "I think the poker tent is a piece of shit. It's either boiling hot, freezing cold, or blowing over from the wind. I mean, one guy almost got his arm cut off in there and another had a heart attack. I had to cover a Day 1 of a $1,500 donkfest in there early in the Series and it was hotter in there than it was outside. I think I've heard more bitching and moaning from players about the tent than anything else. Seriously, if you pay $1,500 or $2,000 or whatever to enter a WSOP event, you shouldn't have to wear a wet towel over your head to keep from fainting."
Another sore point we touched on is the fact that Harrah's offered a makeover to the winner of the Ladies Event. Change isn't the only one that was offended by this. It's really downright insulting when you think about it and I've talked to a lot of other ladies that agree. I have a feeling they won't make a poor decision like that next year.
Last year I remember reading quite a few horror stories about Harrah's, so have they done anything this year to improve on the issues they were lacking in a year ago? "I'm glad Harrah's listened to their Players' Advisory Council and added in more non-hold'em events and mixed game events. It's the World Series of Poker, not the World Series of No-Limit Hold'em! There are still plenty of lower-buyin NLHE events for the tourists and weekend warriors, but it's a much more well-rounded selection of tournaments this year. The $5K mixed hold'em event was fun to cover and interesting from a strategic point of view. It was no coincidence that the $2,500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 final table was chock-full of pros, and the same goes for both H.O.R.S.E. events."
So, where will Change100 be after the 2007 World Series of Poker ends? She'll probably be home sleeping for a week and then maybe she'll have a little fun and play some poker before the next set of events begins. One thing is for sure, she'll be back next year, as a writer, or as a player? I guess we'll find out.