Thursday, May 11, 2006

Groping, Hoping, and Pimping

Well I've been outted. It's true. I did allow, and enjoy, the occasional grope by Pauly during last year's WSOP. There is even pictorial evidence. But I knew it was never serious. For one thing, Pauly is totally into blonds. During the WSOP he left his laptop unattended on media row and I found quite a few blond soft porn sites in his favorites. There wasn't a brunette to be found. Thanks for the shout out, darlin'. I'm sincerely hoping for more groping this year should we both end up at the big dance.

Media coverage for the WSOP is going to be different this year. There were some media issues last year that only stood to worsen if left unaddressed this year. For one thing, the WSOP issued a gagjillion media passes last year. For the preliminary events, there were few problems as only a core of twenty or so reporters and bloggers dedicated themselves to the 14 hours a day required to handle the early events. We all shared the limited space at the final table and small media room with ease and grace. When the media hoards came in for the final event, it bordered on inane. The small media room looked like an overbooked student hostel. People littered the floor, sleeping head to foot. One corner took on the unmistakable smell of urine. If you turned your back, you likely had your lunch, internet feed and chair swiped. The media newcomers clogged the aisles on the tournament floor. Players from broken tables couldn't get to their new tables as the poker media neophytes wouldn't let them pass. And at least one ESPN crew member considered sticking his boom up reporters' backsides to get them to move. Media with no need to be inside the rope, as they were not reporting hands or chip counts, felt the only way to demonstrate their importance was to strut their stuff between the tables. So needless to say, change was warranted.

This year Harrah's has decided to sell exclusive media rights to a few media outlets. Bluff Magazine will get the exclusive radio broadcast rights. Card Player apparently will get the exclusive real time internet reporting rights. Image Masters will get an exclusive for still photography. It is believed that few people outside of these outlets will have "inside the rope" privileges. Harrah's will likely be allowing other media outlets access to the WSOP media room where it is believed that monitors will be available for final table viewing. The problem is, what can the other media do with that? Apparently they can't provide any real time coverage as that would breach the exclusive contracts in place. Even Bluff allegedly can't provide a streaming radio feed over the internet as that infringes on CardPlayer's turf. In turn, I have heard CardPlayer can't post the real time tournament coverage on their own website, as that would infringe on an agreement between Harrah's and AOL.

In general, the concept for this year's WSOP is not unlike other major sports events. There are usually exclusive rights for radio and television, with a more open credentialing system for print media. But even so, I'm hoping that Harrah's and the exclusive rights holders allow some flexibility and creativity of interpretation. I'd like to think that other media outlets can request and receive specific photos, chip counts, etc. from the exclusive rights holders. I'd also like to think that the many online sites that send qualifiers (which have become the WSOP's bread and butter) will have some opportunities to provide real time updates about their qualifiers. And the whole issue of what bloggers can and can't do needs to be flushed out. If I want to offer readers a play by play of a final table, at what point am I safely past the "real time" exclusive; five minutes, an hour, or only after an event has completed. If I just want to report on a specific hand, story or issue during event, can I do that while the event is in play? What about podcasts?

I like the idea that no one will be peeing on my laptop at this year's WSOP. And the media credentialing last year was clearly problematic during the final event. I understand why Harrah's has chosen this model. But all that being said, I loved the choices people had when they wanted to follow the WSOP last year. Any time you take competition out of an equation, quality and options generally suffer. There were a lot of hard working and experienced bloggers, internet reporters, photographers, video teams, and radio folk that successfully helped promote Harrah's and the WSOP last year. I'm hoping that doesn't get lost on those exclusive rights holders that are hiring this year. And I'm hoping that doesn't get lost on Harrah's, either, as they navigate these new media waters.

I also wanted to pimp tonight's show on Hold'em Radio. Our guest tonight will be Michael Craig, author of The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King. Michael was one of the speakers at the blogger's convention in December. And I think quite a few of you stuck it to Michael in the 2/4 game at the Imperial Palace. We'll be discussing all things Beal and more. The show airs at 8:00pm CST.


Blogger whiskeytown said...

this post reminds me of what a friend used to tell me when walking 4 flights down a parking stairwell in the bad part of town

he said "if it don't smell like urine in there, it's your turn"

sorry about the laptop - it was my turn.


1:29 AM  
Blogger Dan M said...

I bought a smaller laptop in part so I could cover this year's wsop better than last year's. Now I am thinking the only way to do real coverage might require a treo.

but all jokes aside, i think one problem is that many of the corporate folks who may or may not have made this year's "rules" didn't even show up to the WSOP until the main event So they don't really understand how things went down the other 83 percent of the series.

(i am going to get in so much trouble this year. can't wait!)

4:37 AM  

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