Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Break Time

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

On Monday morning, I did a live chat on ESPN.com with Andrew Feldman who heads up the poker section. It lasted an hour and AlCantHang and some other friends submitted questions. Some were funny and I had a blast answering everything.

After the chat, Nicky and I headed out for a lunch date. It was her first day off since she arrived in Las Vegas and I gave her the option of OHOP or Burger Bar. Since Burger Bar was on the way to the Rio, it was the better and more logical choice. They have the best kobe beef burgers in town. $22? A Sincere value.

It's much better than the free beef jerky we've been getting at the Rio in the media room. A week before the WSOP began, they powers to be made a huge announcement. The official sponsor had been Milwaukee's Beast Lite and that was replaced by Jack Link's Beef Jerky. I know.. WTF?

I'm not really a beef jerky kind of guy, but the new sponsor gave me plenty of opportunity to write snarky jokes that were jerky-related.

It's been an odd week. Plenty of ups and a one or two sincere downs. The weekend was filled with work tilt and that subsided over once Monday rolled around. I also think that I realized that my time in Las Vegas was limited and that I was about to hop on a plane to go see a few Phish shows. While I'm stuck in the trenches and in the shit covering the WSOP, it's hard for me to focus on anything but the task at hand.

Anyway, this WSOP has been interesting. The economy has obviously affected things across the board. For the most part, the poker media has been drastically reduced. Lots of outlets sent smaller coverage teams while others are waiting for the last two weeks to send out reporters. And the ones that are here have a significantly reduced staff, many of whom had to take pay cuts.

You think poker media is a glamorous job? You'd be lucky to get $150 a day (for anywhere from a 10-18 hour work day) which was the starting pay for most WSOP reporters. I was always lucky to get paid way above the scale pay, but not everyone had that luxury. And this year? It's really bad. I heard that some outlets dropped their scale from $150 to $100. Ouch. Some folks might be barely making minimum wage on those long ass days and nights. But, that's an industry wide thing. Everyone has taken a hit in someway.

And the result of lower pay and longer hours for WSOP reporters? Lots of pissed off, disgruntled and angry workers. Usually it took three or four weeks to see the mean eyes on different colleagues. This year? It happened in a matter of days. The madness infested everyone earlier this summer, so much so that the Poker Shrink wrote a post advising poker media on surviving the new world order.

Since everyone is disgruntled, I have never seen so much unprofessionalism among my peers. Simply put, when you pay your workers low wages, they respond in negative ways. Lots of people don't care and have been taking shortcuts which included stealing, borrowing, and poaching content from both myself and my friends. That behavior has been the norm instead of the exception. It really tilted me for a few days until I realized that the only way for me to find any semblance of peace was to rise above it all and continue to work hard and generate original material. If it gets lifted? Then so be it. Hopefully karma will balance everything out.

And yes, I get to escape the shitty situation for a few days as I embark on Phish tour. It's also necessary research for my next book... about my experiences on Phish tour. Phisheads are a lot more fun to hang out with than degenerate poker players.

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