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June 12, 2009

So, I’m about two weeks into this PokerNews gig and it’s been insightful. Well, maybe no much insightful as interesting. Well, maybe not so much interesting as…. You get the idea.

Spending 10, 12 or even 14 hours in the Amazon Room does strange things to people. Inhibitions get lowered. Paranoia rises. The unattractive become… well, maybe slightly less unattractive. It’s sort of like an extended drug trip, without the nasty side effects. Or at least the splitting headaches and run ins with the law. (For some of us, at least.)

Honestly though, the WSOP brings out an amazing, diverse crowd from all parts of the world with all sorts of approaches to things like personal hygiene. Seriously. I have what is perhaps the world’s worst sense of smell and there are some folks in this place that you have stand 50 yards away from. They’re that bad. They’re not the only ones to watch out for though. Just as annoying, in a much different way, are the girlfriends/boyfriends of first time players in the money. You can spot these people on the rail simultaneously trying to watch the action and thumb through the latest Mercedes Benz catalog trying to figure out how they’re going to spend their share of the monies they think will be coming their way. It’s both pathetic and revolting.

Also pathetic and revolting – the broke ass pros looking for their next tournament buy-in. They’re really no different than the junkie panhandlers you find on the street corner  begging a buck for their next fix. It’s not that these guys can’t play or are past their prime (though some of them undoubtedly are), but that this game is such an addiction for them. Maybe it’s because they haven’t – or cant – do anything else with their lives, but I think it goes deeper than that. They need the action like a junkie needs drugs. It’s what makes them feel alive and if they can’t find it at the poker table, then they’ll find it playing craps. Or blackjack. Or high stakes Stratego. Whatever. I’ll leave the in-depth examination of poker and Vegas’ seamy underbelly to someone better equipped to deal with the topic.

And don’t get me wrong. Life at the WSOP isn’t all bad. The folks I’m working with and hanging with in the poker media are a great bunch who all understand that what we’re doing is important to a very select audience, but means jack-shit to the greater world. We take our jobs as seriously as we need to, but we also know we’re doing rocket science or making the world a safer or better place. We report. We drink. We play spot the hooker. We write some more. Drink some more. Go bowling. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Also, while poker players are not what you would consider a generally attractive bunch, some of the women in the poker media certainly are. It helps when there’s a pretty girl to distract  you from the general slobbiness of the poker room. If they’re  friendly and have an amazing Austrailian accent, all the better. In fact, there are many very attractive women wandering the halls of the Rio. Some are railing their boyfriends/husbands/potential clients for the night, while others are dressed in bikinis or tiny dresses and passing out coupons for free drinks or passes to the Sapphire pool. They’re eye candy for degenerates and they can make a long day at least a tiny bit more palatable.

Which brings me to something else that helps make the long days bearable. Alcohol. Simply put, poker players like to drink. Some of them, like Scotty Nguyen, like it a lot. The thing is, those of in media row aren’t adverse to putting away a few drinks ourselves. Soco. Beer. Wine. Rubbing alcohol. Whatever’s handy and available at the Hooker Bar at the end of the night often ends up in our systems before we stumble our way home in the early morning hours.

The fact is, we’re as degenerate as the players we cover. Some of us hide it better than others. Some don’t. It doesn’t really matter though, as we’re all here for the same reasons. We love the games, the players, the lore and the legends that make poker unique. We’re not doing these jobs to get rich. We play donkaments and cash games to do that. We write about poker because we can and we put up with the drama, long hours and shitty pay because we’re willing to do this job. There’s no glory here, just a job where you can hang with good people and write about something you love.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2009 9:51 pm

    Hi Katkin 🙂

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