Thursday, July 05, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 39: The Big Picture

The Big PictureWith the Big One for One Drop having completed and all of the associated hype surrounding it starting to fade, we’ve entered that weird little pre-Main-Event-interim period at the World Series of Poker where everyone is presently distracted from what is happening now by what is to come.

It’s two days until the ME begins (on Saturday), which is kind of hard to believe. Meanwhile, there are still a handful of bracelets to be won between now and then. In fact, the last of the prelims carry over into the Main Event, including Event No. 59, the $1,000 buy-in tourney on which I’m currently reporting and which I’ll be seeing through until it concludes on Sunday.

Like last year, I came in a little before the halfway mark of the Series this time, as opposed to being here the entire seven-and-a-half weeks like I did from 2008-2010. For whatever reason, it feels like these last two-plus weeks have simply flown by this time.

Could be I’m working more often this year, which tends to make the time seem to pass more quickly. Or perhaps the Big One for One Drop coming along and eclipsing everything the way it did sort of skewed the whole WSOP in a weird way, making it harder to pay as much attention to the smaller events and thus recognize all of the other stories that are playing out.

I mentioned yesterday how I’d done an interview in which I was asked questions about WSOP history. One of the last questions concerned where the WSOP was heading. You know, something along the lines of what should we expect over the next decade for the WSOP.

Ten years from now the WSOP will have been going on for more than a half-century. It has had such a crazy, unpredictable narrative already, and I imagine ten years from now the story will become even wilder.

I answered the question by saying there were probably a couple of primary trends or defining characteristics we might be talking about when we look back on the 2010s.

One I was more sure about than the other, namely, the further expansion of the WSOP brand to places other than Las Vegas, something that began with WSOP Europe, will continue in 2013 with WSOP Asia Pacific, and I imagine proceed even further from there.

The other I couched inside of lots of qualifiers when answering. Basically I suggested that should online poker get licensed and regulated in the U.S., the WSOP will no doubt get in on that, too, and thus make the online game an even more integral part of the Series. I talked about online satellites as well as the possibility of an online bracelet event being part of that possible future.

A hard question to answer, though. A real challenge to one’s ability to think “big picture.”

I’ve discussed this topic before in past years, but coming out and reporting on the WSOP for PokerNews the way I have done makes it difficult at times to have any sort of larger perspective on what is happening here. I lock in on a single event, and a lot of times (say on a Day 1) am only really tracking small bits and pieces of that tournament. Focusing on details -- e.g., particular hands -- obviously makes it challenging to see how those details fit within larger narratives, say, of the event as a whole, or of the Series, or of WSOP history, broadly speaking.

That said, I find a lot of value in spending time focusing so closely on the specifics. I feel a lot more qualified to answer questions about the history of the World Series of Poker from having had the experience of covering particular events in this way via a series of “close-ups” in which I watch particular hands, observe individual player’s fortunes rise and fall, and see how a starting field gets smaller and smaller to become a final table and then produce a winner.

The tunnel-vision thing can be disorienting, for sure. Makes it hard to know what the hell is going on elsewhere at the WSOP, let alone in the world at large. For example, I’m aware Ray Bitar has been arrested, and that Full Tilt Poker is being characterized as a “Ponzi scheme” all over again. But it probably won’t be until after the Series that I’ll be able to see beyond the hands and specifics of the present to consider that or anything else.

But that’s okay. I like focusing on these details. The concrete. And from them building larger ideas about the WSOP. Or poker in general. Or, you know, the real “big picture” (in which poker is just a part).

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