Friday, November 04, 2011

A Glance Back While Driving Ahead

A Glance Back While Driving AheadBeen spending today thinking some about the near future -- specifically that November Nine which finally kicks off on Sunday afternoon -- as well as the recent past.

By the recent past I’m referring to the last four years or so, the period comprising my having surprisingly transitioned into this life of poker writing and tourney reporting. I guess there are a few reasons why my anticipation of watching the WSOP Main Event finale this weekend is being mixed a bit with the retrospective stuff.

The event itself is bringing on some of the looking back. Seems like I was just there, helping PokerNews report on the eighth and final day of action at the ME back in July. I won’t be there for this weekend’s restart, but will certainly be following the reporting coming from my several buds who will be.

Speaking of buds, posts by a couple of them have also got me thinking back even further than the last few months.

Change100My friend Change100 yesterday penned a piece called “The Last November Nine?” in which she shared her thoughts about the possibility that this ME final-table-delay experiment may well have “run its course.” (Talked about that a little at the start of yesterday’s post.)

The possibility that the November Nine might be on the way out was the occasion for Change’s post, but along the way she shares a lot of insight both about the way this whole “poker media” thing has evolved and about where it might be headed. She also connects the current, wildly uncertain state of online poker in the U.S. to larger cultural contexts in ways that are worth considering.

One observation in particular that stands out for me from Change’s post is her point about how televised poker’s greatest “hook” has always been the viewer getting to enjoy the idea -- even if it were largely fantastic -- that he or she could be among those playing for the bracelets or bundles of cash one day. That connection between viewers and participants is incredibly meaningful, I think, even if it is mostly imaginary. And without online poker or even a faint hope of winning our way into the events being shown on our teevee screens, it’s hard for many to care much about watching them.

I’m not going to rehearse all of Change’s other points here about where poker has come from, where it might be going, and the ever-evolving status of those who write about poker within the overall scheme of things. Go read for yourself.

OtisMeanwhile, another friend, Brad “Otis” Willis, has today posted a brief history of the PokerStars blog that similarly reflects on the whole idea of “poker media” as a relatively recent phenomenon. His post is titled “PokerStars 10th Anniversary: How the PokerStars Blog Got Its Start.”

Brad had told me before how the PS blog first came about in 2005 and how things grew from there, but his write-up adds further depth and color to the story that makes it especially fun to relive. It also illustrates -- like Change’s post -- the inherent value of thoughtful, reflective prose, something both Brad and Change have brought to poker writing in ways that have influenced others of us who’ve tried our hands at such.

Anyhow, check it out. It really is a cool story, bro’.

Oh, crap. Am noticing the next post is No. 1,500 for me here. Will be another temptation to wax nostalgic, although I think I’m sufficiently distracted what’s coming up to get too carried away with too much more looking back just now.

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