Friday, January 24, 2014

Gonzo Gareth

Writing hastily today from the Philly airport, taking advantage of a pause between flights to France where I will be helping cover EPT Deauville next week. I had to take the opportunity to pop online to read one particular tournament recap from last night, one I hadn’t had a chance to call up yesterday.

The report was for Event No. 3 of the just-begun Tournament Championship of Online Poker (TCOOP) on PokerStars, a $215 buy-in turbo “knockout” event which attracted just under 5,000 entrants. I’d railed the end of the sucker once I’d become aware that a fellow blogger, Gareth Chantler, had managed to find a seat at the final table.

I follow Gareth on Twitter and so had seen his occasional updates regarding the event in which references to his “running hotter than the sun” began to pick up the deeper he got in the event. Being someone who has watched countless tourneys online, it was fun to observe one with a genuine rooting interest for a change.

Just yesterday I was mentioning what is essentially my most remarkable achievement as a “writer-player” in poker, namely luckboxing my way to winning a media event in Ukraine several years ago. Another third-place finish in a WSOP Media Event remains memorable to me as well, thanks largely to my having claimed a trophy for the effort which I just repositioned on my bookshelf at home following a recent move.

But really, as someone unlikely to enter even modest-sized buy-in events any time soon, such trifling finishes will likely together represent the pinnacle of my own tourney triumphs. Thus do I get an especially big kick out of seeing my poker blogging brethren breaking through for big scores, which is why I followed the end of TCOOP Event No. 3 intently last night as Gareth pursued the footsteps of James McManus, Change100, and Chad Holloway to take a turn at becoming the subject of a tournament story rather than the author.

Gareth ended up making it to three-handed and then agreed to a chop that guaranteed him more than $97K -- even more than Chad earned for his bracelet win last summer! He’d make it to heads-up before being bested for a second-place finish. Exciting stuff.

Then I saw Gareth send the above tweet. Sure, he was going to be featured in the tourney recap... but he was also going to be the one writing it!

This morning Brad Willis who heads up the PokerStars blog tweeted “Gave ‪@GarethChantler assignment to cover poker tourney last night. So, he PLAYED it, finished 2nd for nearly $100,000 & then wrote the piece.”

Gareth had a ready response for Brad: “In my defense I thought it was a Gonzo assignment.” (For those unfamiliar with the variety of reporting pioneered by Hunter S. Thompson and his ilk, here is the Wikipedia explanation of “Gonzo journalism.”)

Like I say, I was intrigued to read how Gareth would be writing up the story of what is easily the most exciting tournament he’s ever played. And he did not disappoint, including a priceless (and inspired) “brief, exclusive interview” with the runner-up.

Read and enjoy Gareth’s account here: “TCOOP 2014: K_Heaven07 ascendent in Event #3, $215 NLHE Turbo, Knockout.” Impossible to do so without grinning, I promise.

(Talk to you next from France!)

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