Wednesday, March 14, 2007

WSOP Hosts Media Teleconference

The World Series of Poker hosted a teleconference this morning for interested media, with a bit of speech-making, a few minor announcements, and some general plesantries, except for one online-site rep who got bounced from the proceedings after identifying himself (schmart mooove) and asking a rather pointless question. More on those funnies in a bit.

Dan Michalski over at already has a rather detailed overview of the proceedings, which lasted about 45 minutes. Included as speakers were WSOP bigwigs Jeffrey Pollack, Howard Greenbaum, Jack Effel and Gary Thompson, and what Michalski reported as about 30 various and sundry poker writers. (I'm shocked it was that low a turnout; even for something as predictably blah as a teleconference, I'd have expacted 75 or 100. Silly me.) Michalski is also threatening doing the poker world a commendable service to put up an audio of the call, should you really want to listen to it. However, I'll just go over a few of the things from the teleconference that stuck in my mind:

1) New card set-ups every day: One of the recurring complaints from last year was the low quality of the cards in use. This year, the cards are going to be new at the start of every day's play, and the WSOP also just announced a new deal with card-provider U.S. Playing Cards for KEM-quality cards that will create a new "Poker Peek" line of cards, to be used as the official cards of the WSOP. It ain't the "new deck every 50 hands" as recently proposed in the pending Texas state poker legislation (good luck with that one, by the way), but it's still an improvement over '06, when one well-known player earned a penalty by intentionally trashing a deck he thought had passed the point of being suitable for tourney play.

2) Don't be looking for hospitality suites from places like Stars and Full Tilt, sites that currently service U.S. online poker players. When asked, Pollack said, "You're not going to see very much of that."

3) Any reference to 10,000 players is a "target," not a "cap." (Cue last year's frantic and erroneous inquiries concerning an 8,000-player cap here.) The Rio is building a "poker superstructure" on site that is designed to house future years' needs. This time around, the poker area will include expanded room for tournament, satellite and cash-game play, with 258 tables designated for tournament use.

3a) Michalski is a smartass. , God bless 'im. Damn, but I laughed when I saw this.

4) Way to endear yourself, Pacific Poker. 'Twas Pacific who interloped the teleconference, with the site rep asking, "That means we're okay, right?" in referring to the policies referring to non-U.S.-facing online sites. The rep was told to depart the conference, but we now suspect that the now-disappointed site will exact its revenge, most likely by spamming the WSOP into submission and scraping all content onto 10,000 bogus ".info" sites paid for with stolen credit cards.

5) Harrah's intends to borrow dealers and floor staff from other Harrah's locations, to lessen the impact of temporary (and in some cases, marginally talented) staff.

6) Multi-table satellites (two-table and three-table), with buy-ins as low as $125, are likely to debut this year.

7) More starting chips for the low buy-in events. A corresponding higher level of starting blinds will disguise the impact during early rounds of play, but the higher amount of starting chips is supposed to allow for the insertion of extra rounds in the intermediate levels that expand the period when real poker play is important.

8) An AP guy seemed relativly clueless about the concept of an "open registration" tournament, wanting to know what the prize pool and/or first prize would be, months in advance of the event itself. (*sigh*)

9) Pollack made a point of noting that ESPN may well have its own apparel policy, over and above the changes made by the WSOP itself. So, who will be the first wag that shows up with a shirt bearing eight separate patches, each one with a single letter that collectively spells out F-U-L-L-T-I-L-T?

10) It took roughly 35 minutes for the phrase "chip-related fiasco" to be introduced to the conference. New chips will be used this year, and both dealers and tournament directors will be trained with the intent of avoiding a repeat occurrence of last year's "fiasco."

11) Amy Calistri will have Hershey's Chocolate to enjoy in the media room. According to Ty Stewart, one of the folks responsible for negotiating WSOP corporate deals, "Not just bite-sized. Full bars."


dan m said...

Haley, I think they also said something about stopping unauthorized sources using the WSOP logo. Do you think they were referring to blogposts like this one?

p.s. just for the record, posting the audio was not a "threat" ... but a "service."

Haley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haley said...

ROFL. A fine day you've had, Mr. Michalski.

More seriously about the mark, and for any third parties curious about that, this site has always been identified as a news blog, if a bit of a cheeky one. The use of corporate marks for editorial purposes has been legally confirmed a few gajillion times as not being a copyright infringement. In such cases, the mark is interpreted as a visual identification marker to the topic of the piece, and not as an intent to profit from someone else's property. Ergo, no infringement.

Think about news stories where a blue-screened logo about a company pops up behimd the commentator's head. Same principle.

That said, there's no doubt that a lot of companies have tried to throughout history to have such appearances removed, in an overzealous pursuit of rights. Would the WSOP fall into this category? Who knows? To date, they've never made such a request, and if they did it would go to the owners of the site, not to me. I would not remove the image if it were requested of me and I was the owner, but I don't have the ultimate say as it applies here; I'm just the hired help.