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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2008 | The Works

The Media Experience at the WSOP

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A peek into the newly located media areas prior to the start of the 2008 World Series of Poker indicated more space and options for the media. The emptiness and cleanliness wouldn’t last long; as soon as Day 1 of the WSOP began, it all changed.

The larger media room was located just next to the Amazon Room where the tournament action would take place, which was a pleasant change from the previous year when the media area was located just behind the noisy “poker kitchen” and a full hallway away from the action. Not only was the new media room more spacious and accommodating, but the Harrah’s staff had arranged for a two-tiered media box to be located inside the Amazon Room against the back wall. While this area had less fluorescent lighting, it was much closer to the action, as it overlooked many of the tournament tables.

On the first day of the WSOP, members of the media trotted toward the new media areas and picked their spots in the separated room or the perch inside the Amazon Room. While there is technically no reserved seating, it helps to make one’s presence known in a certain area for future reference, so laptops, cameras, and writing tools are spread out on tables to signify each person’s space. And there is a certain amount of respect among members of the media who show up every day regarding territory.

Sometimes, it would happen that a reporter came to cover one tournament or a specific player and set up in a previously “reserved” seat. Typically, the everyday journalists and tournament reporters gave a little leeway to that newbie, knowing that he or she would put in a few hours and leave. But it remains an unwritten rule that those who are in that Amazon Room on a daily basis get dibs on premium spots on media row.

Most members of the media arrived at the WSOP with a certain amount of excitement. For repeat reporters, the long hours and monotony of the 7-week grind from the year before were forgotten or transformed in their memory banks into an exciting time in their poker history. The first few days consisted of work that seemed exciting again, along with numerous reunions of writers, bloggers, and tournament reporters who hadn’t seen each other in as long as ten months. Those working the WSOP for the first time were able to meet those writers whose work they admired and read for so long, putting faces with names and beginning a bonding experience that only seven weeks in the Las Vegas summer can provide. Even players and journalists exchanged their pleasantries and caught up on poker news, gossip, and personal stories.

The 2008 WSOP made the first few days easy because of a soft opening with only one event on Day 1 – a $10K buy-in world championship event that was destined to get a low turn-out – and a two-day opening of the first $1500 NLHE event. Both allowed reporters to ease into the long work days and not dive into 14 or 16 hour days right away.

And then the change took place. It happened slowly over the course of the first week but kicked in fully by the second. It was the grind.

While players at the WSOP tossed around thousands – sometimes tens of thousands – of dollars on one tournament after another, writers and tournament reporters worked. The walking back and forth, through the tournament floor dodging waitresses and masseuses, through the hallways of players and fans, but always back to the computers to report action and observations… Depending on the hours worked and the assignments given, it could be a somewhat tedious and mind-numbing task.

Reporters covering their first WSOP tended to tire less quickly, though for 99% of the journalists, the excitement wore thin. Phil Ivey was just another poker player, and Phil Hellmuth became an attention-needy man in a NASCAR jumpsuit. No matter who was playing the limit hold’em events, they became monotonous to watch, and there seemed to be 100 of the $1,500 NLHE events.

But those same journalists wouldn’t be anywhere else than the World Series of Poker. There is a reason that most come back year after year. It is the allure of the poker business, with all of its ups and downs, bright spots and dark moments. Whether it is the sound of chips being riffled, history being made, players overcoming obstacles to find success, or a simple passion for the game of poker, there is something about this world of cards that draws us in and keeps us there.

We do it for the sweet moments of victory that give us chills, as well as the events that give us pause and make us ponder the lessons we can apply to our lives. We do it for the poker education, the hands we see and tips we receive that make us better players. Each one of us have different reasons for participating in the World Series of Poker as members of the media, and no matter what those are, we keep coming back.

When you see us looking frazzled, harried, or exhausted, walking the tournament floor or huddled behind a computer screen, squinting behind the lens of a camera or taking refuge at a casino bar after work, just know that most of us will reflect back upon our experiences with some positivity and know that we were a part of poker history. We are doing our best to bring the sights and sounds of the World Series of Poker to the masses.

And somewhere deep inside, we enjoy our jobs and will be back next year to do it all again.

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