Monday, June 18, 2012

Back on the Road (to the WSOP)

Shamus on the roadHere we go again. Am sitting in an airport once more, about to journey westward to Vegas where I should arrive around dinner time. Will then be in the desert the next four weeks or so, helping cover the World Series of Poker. The idea of taking a trip in which I’ll actually be arriving at my destination the same day I leave seems too easy, after my most recent travel experience in which I unexpectedly spent nights in hotels twice along the way.

The longer this here poker writing adventure goes, the more I sense myself kind of stepping back further and further, adopting a broader perspective on things like the WSOP or the game itself. Teaching this “Poker in American Film and Culture” class as I’ve done several times now is further adding to that feeling, given how I frequently find myself in conversations about the place of poker in our world.

Which is significant, to be sure. But not everything.

This will be my fifth time joining the PokerNews crew to help with their WSOP coverage, which means my perspective on going out has necessarily changed, too. Just glancing at posts I’ve written during previous sojourns at the WSOP kind of illustrates that shift, too.

That first summer (2008), that excited feeling never went away. Seemed like I was marveling at everything, and breathlessly sharing as much as I could. The title of a post like “Reporting from the Eye of the Hurricane” is indicative, kind of suggesting how wild it all felt.

By the next year (2009), I was still spellbound, writing posts like “Anatomy of a Hand Report” in which I broke down the process of reporting on a single hand, the fascination with details still indicating a writer wholly absorbed by the ins and outs of chronicling what he sees.

Then by the following summer (2010), posts with titles like “Groundhog Day,” “The Match Without End,” and “The Long Walk” suggest themes of routine and fatigue starting to emerge.

Finally, last year (2011) I think I achieved a kind of minor epiphany about what exactly I was doing and the meaning of it all. A (better) sense of perspective, I guess you could say. I’d also come to recognize my own limits -- intellectual, creative, physical -- and how they necessarily shaped what I could do as an individual trying to report on even a small piece of a spectacle as huge as the World Series of Poker.

“You catch a glimpse here and there,” I wrote in one post near the end last summer. “But only a glimpse. Imperfect. Incomplete. And as you write it down and try to share what you saw with others, the tourney continues while you look away. Running away from you, forever to hide in the past.”

ShamusGoing back again today, I realize I’m caught between anticipating new experiences and returning to something I know pretty well. The former makes me eager, but anxious, too. Meanwhile, with the latter I certainly think about the drudgery of routine, but also the comfort -- even pleasure -- of the familiar.

All of which is to say I’m looking forward to returning, most especially to reunite with old friends. And make some new ones. I’ll try to let you know along the way how it’s all going here. You know... let you peek at my hand once in a while.

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Blogger bastinptc said...

Just to say, this is a great post for a number of reasons. Won't go into it, except to say that this display of self-wisdom is what keeps me coming back on a daily basis. (Lord, this reads like spam!)

6/19/2012 1:56 PM  

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