Better Coverage at the WSOP?

by , Nov 28, 2006 | 8:47 am

I just got an email from Harrah’s (by proxy) asking my opinions on how they handled the media at the WSOP. I’ve long contended that despite the difficulties this year, the real test of Jeffrey Pollack and his cronies will come in 2007 — in seeing how they handle the issues that became clearly apparent.

Over at PB I’ve raised the question of whether or not this email is an indication that the World Series has hired a new PR firm. But regardless, the fact that they are seeking my opinion is scary suggests they are taking steps in the right direction. The survey asked us about everything from bathroom convenience to food quality … and even inquired about the credentialing process and rules within the tournament area. Click below to see my answers to the follow-up questions on items I rated “poor” or worse:

Why did you give a low rating for Access To the Tournament Area?

not allowed to use my computer in the tournament area. (especially when others were allowed.)

suggestion for the future: two rows of press seats … fine if you want to give “official” coverage the front row. but let the rest of us sit behind them. same thing applies for empty places in the tournament area.

Why did you give a low rating for WSOP Tournament Media Credentials Process?

biggest problem was the limit to three credentials for an organization — particularly when they are non-transferable.

i understand why you can’t give out tons of them. but for those of us covering the entire event … it is impractical and almost impossible to limit it to three. i had a staff of nearly 10 people working. one of the things i realized i would like to do next year — to keep my staff “fresh” is to have people work for two weeks at a time, then send them away for a few days or a week. but to do this would like to be able to either get more credentials, or transfer them within an organization.

i absolutely understand the need to limit the number of press credentials. and would have no problem to limiting it to three from an organization at any one time. but you can’t expect us to have the same three people covering the action 24/7 for 7 weeks.

Why did you give a low rating for Price/Value of Media Hotel Rates offered by the WSOP and/or Harrah’s Entertainment?

they were too much for me to even consider. ended up spending a two weeks with friends and a month at the mgm instead.

What suggestions do you have to improve the WSOP tournament?

1. have a different set of rules for the media during the main event, and before the main event, as these two time periods are indeed two totally different animals.

the limits that are clearly necessary during the main event — when you have hundreds of media from all over the world, many of whom don’t know basic poker etiquette — really get in the way for the most committed of us who are simply trying to do our jobs during the five weeks prior.

2. do not grant “exclusive” internet coverage. not only is it legally questionable, but it creates tremendous animosity. think of it like any other sporting event … yes, one network can buy broadcast rights, and therefore get all sorts of coverage priveliges … but they don’t prevent them from keeping their competitors from doing their jobs.

one network can broadcast the super bowl, but they can’t prevent every other network from telling the world when someone scores a touchdown. one station can broadcast a basketball game, but the other stations can do a brief video report with the action in the background.

3. one of the best things harrah’s did was creating the “moat” when the main event got down to like 10 tables. it allowed us to do our jobs without getting in the way of the players and/or tournament staff. (again, pre-main event all the media knows how to be respectful of tournament staff and players. during the main event they do not.)

with this in mind, here is my suggestion for a set-up that would work great for media, and presumably great for staff and players as well:

set up the TV table like Centre Court at wimbledon. include two rows of press … one for your sponsoring media, then one behind them for everyone else.

set up the equivalent of a Court 1 for any other big final table — since often there are more than one going on at the same time.

then — and this is the big new part — have the rest of the tables set up in, say, groups of 10. would be ideal if you could then have a single bleacher for each group of 10 (or 12, or 15 or whatever) but i understand if this is logistically not possible with the bleacher. but what should be possible within these sections would be to have a single small little table set-up, so any media that wants to cover specific action away from the TV table — say they are following a single player — could do so. set up this way (like a mini-moated area) would allow us to do our jobs better without “sweating” specific players randomly throughout an event.

i’m talking like a two-chair table (very small) and/or, if possible, a single bleacher, set up for every 10-15 tables. this would allow the media close enough to do our jobs well without getting in the middle of the field of play.

4 Comments to “Better Coverage at the WSOP?”

  1. Drizztdj

    Your suggestions are too logical and well-thought out to work.

    I hope they listen to any blogger who covered the WSOP last year.

  2. StB

    They need to listen from the people in the trenches if they want to make the product better. Hopefully they have learned by taking this first step to get some feedback. The next step would be to contact you and others about seriously putting some of your ideas into place.

  3. Pierres Service » Blog Archive » Better Coverage at the WSOP?

    […] … Pollack and his cronies will come in 2007 — in seeing how they handle the issues that became clearly apparent. … Why did you give a low rating for Price/Value of Media Hotel Rates offered by the WSOP and/or HarrahÂ’s Entertainment? …Read more: here […]

  4. Scott Chaffin

    I hope you didn’t pull your eecummings schtick on the real reply.