Home > Blog Post > Hey WSOP, Can you please put together a News Coverage Team???

Hey WSOP, Can you please put together a News Coverage Team???

Ty Stewart

Ty Stewart with Annette Obrestad

In the poker world, the World Series of Poker is King.  There really isn’t a close second.  If you play poker, you want a bracelet.  It’s the culmination of a feat that has established the bar of what it takes to be a champion.  It’s hard to quantify what might run second.  A World Poker Tour Title?  A European Poker Tour or North American Poker Tour win?  Maybe even a WSOP-Circuit Ring.  These are all certainly nice items to hang on your resume, but in a world that is measured by championships, the WSOP bracelet has established itself as the crème de la crème. 

So why then does it have to be so hard in this day and age to get real time updates of poker tournaments from the World Series of Poker?   We’re living in a present day world that has WiFi at every other coffee shop, and wireless devices that have Rush Poker that you can play while traveling on the Subway from your Android.  We clearly have the capability to do it, but we haven’t had the WSOP step up, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

While I was at the WSOP this year for the $50k Players Championship (Event #2), I wasn’t aware of exactly how difficult these updates were to get.  WSOP had made PokerNews the exclusive provider of real time updates for the 2010 WSOP, and all other media outlets were limited to just 1 post per hour.  But when the PokerNews site crashed a ba-jillion times, people scrambled to get whatever info they could from the series.  Many people turned to me through my twitter feed because I was updating regularly through twitter.  A loophole in the “1-post-per-hour” rule was the use of Twitter, which only provides 140 characters or less posts.  So while I was there for the event actively tweeting the progress as things unfolded in real time, I was flooded by people asking me for tournament data throughout my stay.

My coverage apparently caught the eye of PokerNews as I was emailed by Seth Palansky and asked to “cease and desist.”  I met with him and we chatted it out, and they allowed me to continue with my twitter coverage, without sending twitpics. 

Yesterday, I got a message from Michael “Merchdawg” Reed, who informed me that PokerNews had taken to updating the WSOP-C at Hammond, Indiana through twitter.  Apparently, Card Player has the exclusive rights to the updates for the WSOP-C, but they’ll only be there for the final table.  Where this leaves everyone else that is trying to get updates as to what is going on? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.  If you have an inside source, you can check with them.  Otherwise, there’s no way to get the news of the WSOP-C.

BJ Nemeth, whom I know and respect for his tireless work with the WPT Live Update team and as a WSOP Photographer, as well as a respected poker journalist, sent this tweet out yesterday:

“I would love to see an “official” outlet for @WSOP & WSOP-C coverage, but no restrictions on anyone else. Same way it is on the WPT & EPT.”

BJ is 100% right on this.  The WSOP needs to get their own team together for WSOP coverage. I just don’t see the point of contracting the work out to other services that may or may not be able to hire adequate professionals to do the job.  For those of us that are interested in what players are in the tournament, and how things are unfolding, we’re really getting shafted by the WSOP here. 

I can think of a dozen qualified people that would be interested in traveling with the WSOP to provide tournament updates despite the fact that it’s a long, tedious, and exhausting job with little pay.  I did it simply because I loved it.  It was great fun to get inside the ropes, chat with the players, and send the information out to people that were sitting on the edge of their seats, thirsty for the information.  They were hungry to find out info on who was still in, what their chip counts were, and the big pots that they were involved in.  The reality is keeping people glued to the information creates so many positive realities for the game, as well as for the WSOP brand.  People would have to go to WSOP.com to get the full scoop on the action, or follow their twitter feed to get updates in real time.

Seth Palansky and Nolan Dalla at work

Seth Palansky and Nolan Dalla at work

I know that I for one would love this gig.  A chance to work alongside the three-headed monster of Ty Stewart, Jack Effel, and Seth Palansky, as well as with Nolan Dalla.  It’d be a dream gig. These guys are so very capable of bringing in a crew to run this part of the WSOP machine, and provide viewers and fans with a product that has the capability of being the benchmark of what tournament coverage should be.

For now, I would give that title to the WPT.  While I think that there are certainly some small improvements on what COULD be done to improve upon the coverage as a whole, I can’t begin tell you how much I enjoy what BJ Nemeth and Jess Welman and company have done with their Live Updates team.  I also enjoyed watching the live stream broadcasts without the capability of viewing hole cards at the NAPT Mohegan Sun (where Vanessa Selbst took down the title) and the EPT San Remo when Liv Boree won it.  I really didn’t care for the WSOP-E broadcast as much because it was delayed nearly 4 or 5 hours, so the information was just stale news by the time it came across.  Those live feeds provide such an amazing value to the tournaments, and keep people glued to their internet for hours on end.  Isn’t that what these guys are really after?

To sum up, I just hope that the WSOP takes some initiative and begins their own team of reporters to cover their WSOP events.  Not only could they be the best tournaments in the world, they could easily give poker fans around the globe the best coverage in the world.  Which really, isn’t that what we all deserve?

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  1. October 25th, 2010 at 13:31 | #1

    Well said Paul. There is no reason why media outlets should be limited on how they report a tournament. Just because Fox has the rights to broadcast a football game doesn’t mean that ESPN or CBS are not allowed to report stats and scores (in real time), so what makes a poker tournament any different?

  2. AlCantHang
    October 25th, 2010 at 15:30 | #2

    The WSOP did not “make” PokerNews the exclusive home of live updates, PokerNews bought those rights. They paid to be the only source for up to minute action from the floor.

    On the other end is the World Poker Tour which pays BJ, Jess, etc to be onsite for the updates throughout each event. Big difference.

    In order to accomplish what you are asking, Harrah’s would trade getting paid money (surely not an insignificant sum) to paying out money for a team of their own.

    • Paul Ellis
      October 25th, 2010 at 15:51 | #3

      Hey Al, excellent distinction. And you’re right. There is a major difference between selling the rights, and coming out of pocket to pay a team. However, I believe that WSOP would more than likely recoup the money through their advertising as a result of directing all traffic to their site. They could certainly charge a hefty sum.

      It’s not to say anything defamatory towards PokerNews either. I think they did a good job overall. I liked the staff a great deal, and was satisified with their product as a reflection piece. But when it came to the real-time updates as well as chip counts and such, especially for the bracelet events outside of the main, I think they missed the boat. Especially during the hand-for-hand portion (which they ignored) during the playdown to the November 9.

      I was also dissapointed with their PokerStars affiliation during the WSOP, and their Full Tilt affiliation during the WSOP-E. I think the reporting news source should be reporting without bias, and not focusing upon any individual player because of their sponsorship affiliation.

  3. Paul Ellis
    October 25th, 2010 at 15:53 | #4

    Paul Ellis :

    Hey Al, excellent distinction. And you’re right. There is a major difference between selling the rights, and coming out of pocket to pay a team. However, I believe that WSOP would more than likely recoup the money through their advertising as a result of directing all traffic to their site. They could certainly charge a hefty sum.

    It’s not to say anything defamatory towards PokerNews either. I think they did a good job overall. I liked the staff a great deal, and was satisified with their product as a reflection piece. But when it came to the real-time updates as well as chip counts and such, especially for the bracelet events outside of the main, I think they missed the boat. Especially during the hand-for-hand portion (which they ignored) during the playdown to the November 9.

    I was also dissapointed with their PokerStars affiliation during the WSOP, and their Full Tilt affiliation during the WSOP-E. I think the reporting news source should be reporting without bias, and not focusing upon any individual player because of their sponsorship affiliation.

  4. Key
    October 25th, 2010 at 16:11 | #5

    Great job expressing this, Paul. I enjoy Poker News for their coverage – the hand descriptions, the interviews, videos, etc. I really enjoyed your twitter updates at the WSOP and they whetted my appetite for more news (and more visits to Poker News’ site); they weren’t a replacement.

  5. October 26th, 2010 at 02:28 | #6

    in 2010, and again in 2011 PokerNews.com did not, and will not pay for the rights for WSOP updating privileges. In the past this was true, but is no longer the case.

    • Paul Ellis
      October 26th, 2010 at 06:55 | #7

      Hey Matthew, thanks for clearing that part up. I’m curious as to why Pokernews.com wasn’t awarded the rights to the WSOP-C as well. Seems like a Pokernews.com kind of thing.

  6. October 26th, 2010 at 17:19 | #8

    If PokerNews isn’t paying for the exclusive coverage, then why offer exclusive coverage?

    Couldn’t Harrah’s offer PN “official” coverage, allow them to use the branding for that, share the updates on WSOP.com, and then allow others to cover the event without restrictions? Being the official site could offer additional perks, like priority seating and additional media badges. Other sites wouldn’t have those advantages, but they shouldn’t be artificially limited by post counts or other such silliness. (Under the current system, chip counts technically aren’t allowed, even if PokerNews isn’t counting that player’s chips.)

    Keep in mind that if they remove restrictions, every site isn’t going to jump in and start reporting chip counts on Day 1. But interesting final tables (Durrrr, Ivey, etc.) will get a *lot* more coverage — which I think ends up helping the WSOP brand. It’s scalable coverage, where Harrah’s wouldn’t have to pay for the increase in scale.

    From my understanding, the WPT and the EPT both provide their own official reporting teams (WPT Live Updates and PokerStars Blog) because they want to make sure there is a guaranteed minimum level of quality reporting. Both tours allow other media to come in and report with very few restrictions. (I’m pretty sure the WPT and the EPT both allow other media to use their chip counts without restrictions, but I’m not 100% on that.)

    The WSOP could similarly partner with a site like PokerNews to guarantee a minimum level of quality reporting, and then open the doors to everyone else with very few restrictions.

    I think having these restrictions in place for WSOP-C events is really hurting those tournaments, which should be eager for as much coverage as possible. And how did PokerNews re-sign the contract for the 2011 WSOP, but lose the WSOP-C to Card Player? That’s a really weird situation that makes very little sense to me.

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