The media coverage at the 46th Annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) was brilliant. I know some thought it was more Shepherds Pie than steak, not me.
I’m an industry fledgling. This was my fifth consecutive WSOP and in that time I’ve never been as happy with the coverage. That’s my opinion – one that’s coated in a little haze as I get older and forget things. But I loved it and let me explain why.
When I first heard that WSOP 2015 was going to bring things in-house I didn’t think the thin blood of the virgins would water the tables of the Rio. I assumed the PokerNews team would have a hole in their schedule for 6-7 weeks and the WSOP would fill it by hiring them as freelancers.
When I arrived, and learned that the vast majority of the team were fairly inexperienced I was slightly worried. Then I remembered my first event. Everyone has to cover their first event, and it’s one of those jobs that’s difficult to prepare for. It’s a mammoth task. You just have to get in there and take the buckshot. But slowly and surely you grow to know who you are and what you are there to do.
So it was never going to be as tight as the skin of a drum. I knew that. Then I played an event. A hand I played ended up in the blog. Some of the details were inaccurate. What a great time to shoot the inexperienced live reporter, hack off the head and hang in on a wall. Then I learned it was a mistake from an experienced member of the crew. Shit happens. When I work the floor I make dozens of mistakes every tournament. It’s the nature of the job. I told him about the mistake. He thanked me and amended it. Ambience was restored.
Whilst people were complaining about the quality of the live updates I thought they were sound. But this is a very subjective matter. Some people prefer just the bare facts, others like a little tale to be told that includes candles, chopped wood and angry looking pumpkins. The live reporting that I read was easily comparable with the live reporting at the European Poker Tour (EPT) and World Poker Tour (WPT). It was no better or worse than anything I have ever done before. This is live reporting, not poetry.
What I loved about the in-house move was it freed up the PokerNews crew to be more creative. Remko Rinkema and Donnie Peters carried out some of the best interviews/discussions of the WSOP during their Podcast, the likes of Chad Holloway and Mo Nuwwarah worked their magic on some great individual pieces and Sarah Herring was her usual innovative self in front of the camera, including a shot of her being spanked. I mean come on.
It was also the most visually stunning WSOP of my time. The decision to appoint Joe Giron at the head of the photography department, and to allow him to finally select the requisite number of team members to actually get the job done right was blindingly apparent this year. That was another major improvement, and one I hope see continue.
By taking on board the live reporting, the WSOP inadvertently flooded the series with more capable writers, photographers, videographers and sideline reporters than at anytime during my five years in the job. The WSOP live reporters got on with the nitty gritty and the PokerNews team added the bells and whistles. Then at the end of each day Nolan Dalla came in and sealed everything with a loving kiss. It was brilliant. And that’s without commenting on the top quality interviews and articles that was being provided by the likes of PokerListings, Sky, PokerStars, Bluff, CalvinAyre and PokerUpdate.
Then came the WSOP Main Event. The toughest gig in the world and yet the live updates were bang on. They were fantastic. There were a lot of them, they were regular, they were accurate, the end of level reviews were perfect, and the end of day recaps filled in the rest of the gaps.
What many believed would taste like cat litter ended being the nouvelle cuisine of tournament media coverage. There were mistakes, there were people walking the floor for the first time in their lives, and at times there wasn’t enough of them to cover the ground that was laid before their flimsy feet. But the boys and girls did good, and they will be even better next year. Let’s hope that the associated network that surrounded them is equally as robust, because the WSOP media coverage is not just about WSOP media, it’s about all associated media coming together, each year, for the best goddam tournament series in the world.
That’s my opinion.