Did you know that there has been 42-days of consecutive play at The World Series of Poker (WSOP)? There are people who have been here every single day. Me? I’m a pussy. I have only been here for 27-days and it’s already starting to feel like Groundhog Day. I feel just like the players who are dropping out of the main event like Mayflies.
“I just want to go home.”
But I can’t leave just yet. I have eight more days until my bird takes flight. Eight more days before an insensitive bastard crushes me with their reclining seat on the flight home.
I get up, brush my teeth, make something to eat, watch my skin fry as I walk to the car, get in, drive to the Rio, drive around for ten-minutes trying to find a space, leave said car, melt as I walk past the wafts of weed on my way into the Rio, struggle to find a spot in the Media room, log on, complain that my Wi-Fi is so slow, find a poker player, ask him interesting questions, fail to get answers, ask them mundane and boring questions, receive boring and mundane answers, try to turn a yawn fest into something interesting, write all day, complain some more about the Internet, head home, fall to sleep and do it all again.
“What! You get to travel around the world and watch poker for a living. You lucky bastard.”
Reality is a bitch. It’s not as glamorous as my Facebook photos may suggest, but I guess it’s better than the strains and stresses of a real job. The poker writer’s job can be great and it can be crap. There really is a cheese wire width of difference between the two worlds, and it’s the poker players that have the ability to make me happy or cry.
When I sat down with Nolan Dalla, Media Director, WSOP at the start of my Vegas adventure I was in my element. Here was a man of experience. He had tales to tell that would make the hairs on my arms prickle with electricity, he was bold enough to field any question and he wasn’t afraid to share his emotion. During the 39 mins and 29 secs that I shared with that great man I was happy. I loved everything about my job; and he cried. Nolan Dalla was so moved by our discussion that he cried.
A few days later and I would get the fortune to sit down with Neil Channing. A man who is cut out of the same sandstone as Dalla. Whilst the poker wizard’s idea of a great night out is beers in Stonies, women at the Rhino followed by a dip in the Mirage water feature; I prefer to sit and chat with people like Neil Channing, and I get the impression he feels likewise. When I spoke to Channing about my belief that Erick Lindgren deserves a second chance, he told me that he once lost £1 million under similar circumstances. I can’t get poker players to tell me how much make up they owe, what cards they held when they won that hand, who backs them and what they do in their spare time apart from playing poker; and yet Channing told me he once lost a million!
I feel like Oliver Twist. I hate asking for more; hate getting that begging bowl out, but I have no choice. I am starving for information. My job is to extract things of interest out of poker players and then paint my canvass with something beautiful for the poker community. So far I have only met two people cast in the role of Mr. Bumble. Erik Seidel turned me down in his own quiet and shy way. Having interviewed him for 90-minutes on a previous occasion I can forgive him this once. But when Doyle Brunson said NO! I was bitterly disappointed. It was my first meeting with the great man, and now I don’t think he’s great anymore. I even called him Mr. Brunson. I have never called a poker player by his surname before. It’s the short, sharp shrills that I hate. It’s the reason I don’t like getting the begging bowl out. It’s the worst part of this job. Just give me another time and date…just don’t say NO!
Most of the people that I have interviewed during this years series have been my friends. They are easier to approach, they are more courteous and the connection that you have makes the interview more interesting. The trust that you have built up over the years allows you to ask deeper more meaningful questions, and some of the time you get deep and meaningful answers. If you search through the audio files you will be able to pick out the people I have connections with and those that I do not.
When I interview people my aim is to create a work of art. I want the interviewee to see my art and be proud that they are a part of it. I want them to share my art through their social media circles. The more people that reads my art the happier I become. But for it to become art it has to be interesting, and this is where the role of the interviewee is exceptionally important. In the few years that I have been in this industry the lack of interviewing skills hasn’t improved at all. Most of these poker players are like bashful children at times. One word answers following a trickle of one word answers. There is nothing more demoralizing than having to try and turn a series of yes, no and I don’t want to talk about that into something worth reading.
And who reads this crap anyway? The poker community of course. The very people who remain tightlipped when I ask a simple question like how much profit did you earn this year. If you’re Swedish and are trying to dodge the taxman then I understand, but if you are British and don’t pay anybody any tax then what’s your problem? The poker community are interested in things like this. Especially, the members of the community that have to make do with the lower hanging fruit.
My gross earnings for the tax year ending 2012 was £41,917. That was all earned through writing about you guys. I don’t keep records of my poker expenses but if I was to guess I would say I have lost £3-4k trying to fool myself into believing that I can be just like you. Now that wasn’t that hard was it?
There are moments when I dream, especially when I am here at the WSOP. I dream that one day I will win the WSOP Main Event and the top prize will allow me to play tournament poker without worrying about how I am going to pay the bills if I lose. In my dream everyone is interviewing me because I am the man who answers every single question put to me. I am revered for my honesty and authenticity and the poker community looks forward to reading anything that I am involved in because it is interesting. I don’t talk about poker hands. That’s boring crap. Instead I talk about life. About the struggles that I went through to get to the top, how my emotions swung like a hammer in the hands of Thor, how gambling destroyed a relationship and then created the spurts of growth for a new one.
Then I wake up.
I brush my teeth, make something to eat, watch my skin fry as I walk to the car, get in, drive to the Rio, drive around for ten-minutes trying to find a space, leave said car, melt as I walk past the wafts of weed on my way into the Rio, struggle to find a spot in the Media room, log on, complain that my Wi-Fi is so slow, find a poker player, ask him interesting questions, fail to get answers, ask them mundane and boring questions, receive boring and mundane answers, try to turn a yawn fest into something interesting, write all day, complain some more about the Internet, head home, fall to sleep and do it all again.