What It’s Like to be in Media Row

 

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Working in the poker industry can definitely have its perks, especially if you are as big a fan of the game as I am.  I fully admit to loving this game, which, of course, can be so terrible to your mental health.  But chances are you are like me and watch plenty of poker on television, follow it online, and jump into online and live games.  What is a day like when you come to rail the action at a major tournament?

Currently, I’m at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles covering the L.A. Poker Classic (LAPC).  This event is a $10,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em tournament with 90-minute blinds and a deep structure.  It’s the last event of a month-long series of tournaments that dominates the Southern California poker scene.  This tournament brings out huge names in the world of poker and, as I write this, I can see pros like Full Tilt Poker pro Erick Lindgren, UB.com front man Prahlad Friedman, Jennifer Tilly, and Phil Ivey within a stone’s throw of where I am sitting.

As a media member, the process is made simple by the very friendly and helpful World Poker Tour (WPT) press staff.  Before the event, I registered to get a press pass, which I picked up on my way into the grand ballroom, which is upstairs at this mammoth poker casino.

Media row is right next to the action and there are certain things you need to make sure you have, which include, in order of importance: power, internet, and room to work.  Without those, you can be dead in the water and there has never been an event I’ve covered where there has been ample room and resources. It’s always first come, first served and those who arrive a little early are always rewarded.

Most of the poker media know each other pretty well.  There’s even talk of putting together a home cash game downstairs, which has become a tradition with the media that comes to the LAPC.  The Commerce Casino is one of the few places that lets you host your own “home game” where you can tell the dealer the stakes and game at any given moment.  It’s a good time and definitely takes away from the grind of covering poker.

A lot of people ask me which pros “are cool” and which ones tend to be jerks.  For the most part, poker pros are pretty awesome people away from the tables and very accommodating.  Obviously, a person like Ivey, who has a magnitude of fame, keeps their distance.  But there are guys like Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer, and Faraz Jaka that do a ton for the media and fans alike.

Working in the poker industry has been a real treat and I’ve done my fair share of bragging about who I’ve gotten to meet or interact with.  It might be a little silly to say, “Wow, I just had dinner with [insert awesome poker player here] and he’s a great guy,” but it all stems from my deep love of the game and immense respect for the great players who are also great ambassadors.

Getting back to the experience I have here at media row, during the breaks, it’s a mad scramble to grab players as they walk out of the room for a quick interview.  The idea is to keep them short, to the point, and light in topic. Nobody wants to take on a tough interview in the middle of a break of a major tournament.  During the breaks, we corral people over for interviews and, once the day is done, we’ll have had quite a few.  Then, we’ll back up all our equipment and put it in our rooms or cars and naturally most of us will head to the tables to find our own fortunes.

As you might have noticed, quite a few media members have hit it big in poker, so you never quite know which one of us will be next.  Who knows, if you break into this industry, maybe it’ll be you.

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