Monday, May 19, 2008

Warning Signs

Warning SignsWent to get my driver’s licence renewed late last week. A fairly painless process, as far as these things go. I was perfect on the vision test, and was able to identify all but one of the road signs. Even though they supply you with this card to study while you wait your turn, I somehow missed “no passing zone.” But apparently they give you one freebie at the DMV.

As I slipped the new card in my wallet, I couldn’t resist doing a hasty before-and-after with the old one. I’m not smiling in either picture, though not frowning either. Yr standard, stoic, go-on-and-take-it-so-I-can-get-outta-here pose in both. Quickly glanced at the dates each card was issued as well. Ah, yes. Hard, sober proof chronicling the passage of time.

Then I noticed that whereas before my hair color was designated as “BRO” this time it has been determined I’m “GRY.” Ack. Whatever. I’ve always been essentially doomed in that regard, as my father was already going gray by his twenties, was silvery by his late thirties, and by fifty was George Washington white.

Enough brooding. I pocketed the wallet and got on with the rest of my life.

I had to take care of that little bit of business now, as I’ll be in Vegas when my birthday comes up next month, helping cover my first WSOP for PokerNews. I fly this Sunday.

Been thinking a lot about what I’ve described to a few people as an unexpected detour for me in the life journey. Can’t really say I imagined taken something like this on even last year when I started doing some writing and other work for PN. When the opportunity arose, I discussed the whole deal with Vera and we both thought it worthwhile to do. Sometimes you just have to play your draws. What with time passing so quickly and all.

In the last few weeks there have been some interesting developments in the world of poker media, the most remarkable being the decision by ESPN and Harrah’s (or Caesars Entertainment) to move the Main Event final table to November. I probably wouldn’t have been on that final table anyhow, though did plan to stick around for it in July.

The most frequently cited reason for the move has been sagging ratings for ESPN’s WSOP broadcasts. The idea appears to be that the creation of a “plausibly live” final table in November -- prepared for by weeks of coverage of earlier events and of the winnowing of the ME field from thousands down to nine -- will help bolster interest in televised poker once again.

Meanwhile, we’ve heard news that the Game Show Network will likely be cancelling everyone’s favorite poker show, High Stakes Poker. And the future of the World Poker Tour may also be in doubt. As poker pro agent and industry insider Oliver Tse points out in a comment over on Pokerati, the deadline for GSN renewing the WPT is June 1st. The show apparently doesn’t “skew” well toward the GSN’s typical audience for its other programming (middle-aged women). Significantly, PokerStars pulled its advertising after the dismal ratings came back for the first week of the WPT on GSN. “The next 3 weeks will be interesting,” says Tse.

Finally, another curious discussion about TV and poker emerged over on 2+2 last week when a poster posed the question “Hypothetically what if ESPN cut WSOP coverage back to pre-2003 levels?

Again, Tse weighed in, this time to suggest that if ratings for the 2008 WSOP don’t rise to a sufficient level, ESPN might well walk away from the WSOP altogether. What would that mean for the World Series going forward? Says Tse, “I would not be surprised if a group from the United Arab Emirates, namely Dubai or Abu Dhabi, will buy the WSOP from Caesars and move it to the UAE in time for 2009 if ESPN were to walk away after 2008.”

An intriguing discussion follows Tse’s speculation. I’ve no idea how plausible something like that really could be. Would be a hell of a 40th anniversary, though, if the WSOP ended up somewhere other than Vegas, wouldn’t it? In any event, if it were to go to Dubai, I’m damn sure I wouldn’t be following it there.

All of this uncertainty about the WSOP’s future makes me even more glad about my decision to go this summer. Where the road will go after that, who knows?

Not letting all these warning signs slow me down, though. I got my license, and plenty of fuel in the tank (for now). I’m gonna keep driving.

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Blogger Dantana said...

I love Oliver like a Brady cousin, but I am willing to make a pretty sizable wager that it will not be played in the UAE at any point in the next five years. OK, maybe four.

5/19/2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

"I love Oliver like a Brady cousin . . . "

Haha. Cousin Oliver. Talk about a warning sign . . . .

5/19/2008 10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have fun covering the WSOP and congratulations on getting to go, definitely exciting!

All of the conjecture about the WSOP is would definitely be interesting to have to go to Dubai to play. I was supposed to play in the Ladies WSOP with my mom this year but she's injured so we won't make it. No way can I go to Dubai or some other far off land to play - eep!

5/19/2008 12:04 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I think everyone knows this, but if they move the WSOP out of the U.S. -- and really anywhere outside of Las Vegas -- then the thing is doomed to see its popularity continue to wilt, probably forever. If there is no more strong tv market for televised poker then so be it -- I for one barely ever watch poker on tv anymore, and I used to be the biggest WPT and WSOP whore there was when it came to the telecasts -- but the live event should stay what it is and where it is, regardless.

5/19/2008 4:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hoyazo...I don't think I'd want to see the WSOP leave Vegas EVER! There are many other tournaments all over the world and the WSOP is all Vegas. I would be disappointed if it wasn't in Vegas every year.

5/20/2008 1:30 AM  

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