Wednesday, September 05, 2007

PokerWire Folds

PokerWire FoldsA quick scan of the poker podcast landscape reveals a new episode of Beyond the Table has surfaced. Check it out here or just play it over in the jukebox on the right. In a discussion of Dan’s fluctuating bankroll, WSOP Player of the Year and recent WPT final tablist Tom Schneider makes an interesting observation about downswings and building back up. Not unusual -- sez Tom -- for the slide back down to happen much more quickly than the slow climb up, particularly if we are talking about online play.

There’s also some excellent information in there about how to plunge a stopped-up toilet.

Moving on . . . over the weekend I went back and caught up on the August episodes of Keep Flopping Aces. Have been struggling to get the RSS feeds to work with Hold ’em Radio shows, so I have been grabbing ’em manually whenever I think of doing so. Let me recommend especially the August 2nd show with Barry Tanenbaum in which he shares tips from his just-released book, Advanced Limit Hold ’em Strategy. Terrific stuff for us limit HE players. Others, too. (Can’t wait to pick up the book.)

And for those of you curious about Chinese Poker, the guys over at Ante Up! devoted a whole show to the game week before last. Cool stuff.

Meanwhile it appears that the PokerWire podcast hosted by Joe Stapleton, Gavin Smith, and Joe Sebok is no more. A little over a week ago the site announced it would no longer be offering extensive tournament coverage, and that the podcast would also be signing off. The announcement had said we’d be hearing final episodes of the podcast from the WPT Legends of Poker event, but the tournament has come and gone with no new shows. Sebok did manage a deep run in the main event (he finished 7th), and so he might’ve been preoccupied somewhat as things wound down at the Bike. On his blog, Sebok has reported the podcast will return in yet another incarnation as The Poker Road, so that’s a silver lining of sorts.

But PokerWire? Nothing left but a shadow. As PokerWire explains in its announcement, those “exclusive media coverage” deals signed by the WSOP and the WPT have meant PokerWire can no longer provide chip counts and live updates from the most important events on the professional circuit. As such, “PokerWire can no longer continue to support a full staff and radio show.” The release goes on to suggest the site has already cut loose most of their staff. They promise to continue as a somewhat stripped-down source for news from the tourney circuit -- we’ll see if indeed even that will be the case.

Others have commented recently on the demise of PokerWire and/or on the idea of having “exclusive” content providers at professional poker events. A few weeks ago there was Erin Warner’s editorial over on PokerListings responding to the WPT's deal with CardPlayer. There Warner sharply challenges the notion that exclusivity deals ensure better coverage and/or wider audiences. Then, shortly after the announcement from PokerWire, Cal over on the Kick Ass Poker blog reported that news, adding that even if “such market pinches were made inevitable by the private nature of the casinos and organizations running most events . . . monopolies regarding media access are seldom a good thing, for pretty clear reasons.”

Two days later, the Poker Shrink outlined a couple of those reasons in a post about the issue. There he argues how exclusive coverage deals can affect how WPT and WSOP events get reported -- i.e., in a way favorable to those organizations (Harrah’s, the WPT) who have sold the rights to be covered. Soon after, Amy Calistri threw her Stetson into the ring, noting how the situation resembles that of other major pro sports -- as well as ways that analogy doesn’t quite hold. Calistri also believes “there are more losses than gains with exclusivity” -- both for those covering the events and for the sponsoring organizations.

When Bluff Magazine first announced its deal to be the WSOP’s exclusive content provider back in March, I then wrote a post in which I, too, characterized such deals as “lamentable.” My opinion hasn’t changed much since then, although I perhaps have marginally more insight today into the situation than I did six months ago.

I’m one of those poker junkies for whom there is never enough coverage, so whenever someone like PokerWire drops out of the game, I’m going to be bummed. I also understand the argument about how exclusivity deals necessarily increase the likelihood of blinkered, corporate-controlled coverage, something I am also not crazy about (though think I understand, somewhat). So from my outsider’s perspective -- from out here in the peanut gallery, as Haley will sometimes say -- I still can’t help but find it all far from ideal.

Obviously the poker world has changed dramatically from even a decade ago when -- as I have been reading about in Anthony Holden’s Bigger Deal -- Jack Binion had to pay ESPN to come and film the WSOP Main Event final table each year.

Now the media pays those running the poker tourneys to cover them.

And then we pay to follow along. Hmm . . . .

So bless them podcasts. (And the blogs, natch.) Keep ’em going, y’all. Don’t have to pay extra for those, and at least there folks seem -- for the most part -- to be able to say pretty much whatever they want.

You know, like how to plunge a stopped-up toilet.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

As for podcasts, I have a hard time figuring out who is up and running, who is dormant and who simply went down. Good thing there´s always Ante Up! :D
For know I dumped the idea of a regular podcast but my blog hoster allows me to podcast as part of the blog, so I´m considering doing short audio postings now and then.

9/06/2007 6:16 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

You gave me an idea there, eblonk. (See the podcast list at right.)

Good luck w/your podcast-slash-audio postings. I'll be listening!

9/06/2007 10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. Definitely a poor turn of events with all those exclusive media deals. Those kind of things make me bitter.

9/06/2007 2:32 PM  

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