Lee Davy continues his confessions series by talking about his relationship with the World Poker Tour.
The World Poker Tour (WPT) wasn’t the first poker TV show that I watched – that honor goes to Late Night Poker – but it pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go.
I fancied Shania Hyatt, and the Royal Flush Girls, but I never fancied myself as a player. It was entertainment – and I loved every minute of it – but it never occurred to me that I could play poker for a living.
What about working for them?
It never crossed my mind.
November 2010, and I’m in the lobby at the Pullman Hotel in Barcelona. PokerNews have hired me to work at the European Poker Tour (EPT). It’s my second live tournament and everything is a little surreal.
The lift door opens…and…HELLO!
That’s what I call a shapely young woman.
Tussled brown hair, film star figure and a pair of boobs that had a Paul McKenna hypnotic pull. Barcelona was going up in my estimations.
I eat breakfast and head to the casino where my colleague informs me that we have a new photographer on the team.
“You’ll love her. She used to be an underwear model in Croatia.” Said my colleague.
Imagine my surprise, and delight, when the new photographer turned out to be the woman who had hypnotized me in the lift.
“Hi, my name is Tatjana.”
And that’s how I met Tatjana Pasalic.
And as far as I know she was never an underwear model in Croatia.
She had a tough time at that event.
The poker community reminds me of the schoolyard. Everyone knows who everyone is, but there are different cliques. There are cool kids, not so cool kids, swots, idiots and a bunch of kids that had their dinner money stolen everyday.
The EPT was a cross between the cool kids and the swots. There was a lot of money floating around – courtesy of PokerStars – and standards were high. They had also been working together as a unit for some time. It wasn’t easy to fit in. I felt like a stranger for most of the time I worked there, and I think Tatjana felt the same vibe.
As a newbie – and as I was working closely with her – we became friends. It was a time when she needed one. We exchanged contact details and promised to help each other out should any work come up in the future.
A few months later and I received a Skype message that PartyPoker were looking for a live reporter to work on the European legs of the World Poker Tour (WPT).
She had recommended me for the position.
I would never have gotten that job if it wasn’t for my relationship with Tatjana, and I will always be grateful that she believed in me.
My contact at PartyPoker was Marko Saric and I loved him instantly. He asked me if I could cover back-to-back events in Venice and Paris. I snapped him up. It wasn’t just the glitz and glamour of those two marvelous cities, but live tournament reporting is a big earning source for a freelance writer.
My big worry – when I jumped ship from the railroads – was how I would pay my bills. I was fortunate to be getting paid around £250-300 for a print magazine article for BLUFF, but anything that I produced online was being sold for £50 tops.
You earn £1,000 – £1,500 for a live reporting event, and if you have back-to-back events then do the math. Live reporting becomes a crucial way to pay the bills. This is why I found it so difficult working for the EPT. There were so many of us we had to share the load. This meant some months without work.
When I turned up at Venice I was surprised to learn that I would be working on my own. PokerNews invariably use three writers at the EPT stops.
I didn’t complain.
I got my head down.
We were down to 16-players and I missed every elimination as we made our way down to the final table. I quickly learned that I would have to rely on my relationship with players to gather the facts when I was away from the tables.
The pace and hard work came naturally to me though.
When I was 16 I worked in a kitchen factory and was told to face the wall if I talked too much. During my time on the railway we were always trying to get the job done with limited resources. I learned to go the extra mile a long time ago, and when I joined the poker industry, there were a lot of people who hadn’t learned this lesson.
I think Marko really appreciated the hard work, and consistency in delivery of a quality product. We also worked well together as a team. He still finds me work to this day, and I have continued to work with the World Poker Tour (WPT) ever since.
In those prevailing years the family members have changed, but the same ‘togetherness’ still exists. The Italian trio of Francesco Rizzo, Tomaso Vimercati and Sebastiano Facco have left an imprint in my heart, and Angela Nyman was also a critical influence on my progress during her time there.
Today we have Hermance Blum, Thomas Hervet, Alin Ivanov, Jessica Tomsett, Jesse May, Lee Johnston and the Royal Flush Girls: Violet Dillon and Sonya Yasmin Ali. They are all beautiful people, but more importantly they work their asses off. I think that’s what binds us together. It’s the value of hard work and dedication to the product.
In a few weeks time I will be heading to Cyprus to cover the first European WPT event of the new season. It will be my third visit to the Merit Crystal Cove Casino. Next I will be covering the London Alpha8 event, playing in the WPT500 at Dusk till Dawn, and working at the WPT Main Event at the same location.
The WPT is like my family now. The writer’s life can be a very lonely one, and these trips abroad are crucial to my connectivity.
Live tournament reporting is difficult. It’s a hard slog. But if you want to be a writer then this is an essential way to improve your skill set. Your job is to make poker come to life on the page. How can you do that without knowing what makes a person tick? The tour is their school yard and it’s your job to pick out the cool kids, the not so cool kids, the swots, the idiots and the bunch of kids that have their dinner money stolen everyday, and splash them with color.
And come on…
How can you not enjoy working for a man like this?