The 2015 World Series of Poker will mark the first time that tournament organizers will be providing their own primary media coverage for a majority of the series. In recent years, PokerNews has provided the “official live reporting team,” but changes in the financial landscape of the industry have prompted the WSOP to provide its own live reporting team. While fans will still be able to enjoy coverage of the series from the usual media outlets including televised coverage of the Main Event on ESPN, WSOP.com will provide the most comprehensive coverage of the entire poker festival this summer.
Seth Palansky, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Caesars Interactive Entertainment—the parent company of the World Series of Poker—outlines the plan for the WSOP’s in-house media coverage in 2015.
Should fans expect anything different to what the WSOP staff has provided in previous years?
Certainly our goal in Year 1 is to follow the lead of PokerNews, who has built themselves into being the best in the business at this. We actually have already “We’ll have about 35 people dedicated to providing live content from the 2015 WSOP this year. It’s a big staff with a lot of poker to cover.”reached agreements with several people who have been part of the WSOP live reporting team for Poker News in past years, so while it is now a WSOP.com operation, the fact of the matter is, those providing the content will in most cases be mostly the same faces and experts in the field people have come to respect and appreciate. We don’t plan to reinvent the wheel here. I’m sure we’ll make our fair share of mistakes along the way, but we’ll put in max effort.
Also, people shouldn’t worry about WSOP doing this themselves resulting in it being some house organ propaganda machine. The best example I can give is from my past experience. I used to work at the NFL and helped found the NFL Network. Everyone was worried NFL Network would be a mouthpiece for the league. But it isn’t. They covered Ray Rice stuff, concussions, Commissioner, etc. In order to be credible, you have to cover the good, bad and ugly. We will not put a mouthpiece on any of our staff. That said, the players are also our customers. So that is a little unique. We’re not looking to attack or embarrass anyone. We intend to to cover the action and atmosphere and bring the information to the public.
What is the main goal of the reporting staff?
In the purest sense, we want to keep the audience who isn’t there informed about what is taking place. As we all know, in poker, the leaderboard really changes every hand. So this is about giving folks a sense of who is playing, how they are playing and who is up and who is down throughout the events. That, plus giving folks the flavor and some of the uniqueness that is the WSOP and tournament poker.
How many reporters do you plan to have on staff to cover the Series?
We’ll have about 35 people dedicated to providing live content from the 2015 WSOP this year. It’s a big staff with a lot of poker to cover.
Who is in charge of the reporting staff?
Rob Kirschen, who has worked previously for PokerNews in live reporting, has worked the WSOP on the WSOP staff for the past year and oh, has a PhD. He’s a good guy with a lot of passion and plans well, is organized and will successfully lead this group.
Is there time for people interested in working the Series to still get on board?
Yes, we are beginning to ramp up staff now and are still looking for more live reporters. Anyone interested in spending their summer in Vegas as part of the WSOP team should reach out to Rob Kirschen at firstname.lastname@example.org to get the ball rolling.
Will you provide chip counts?
“We plan to do 31 live streams with Tuchman over the first 35 days of WSOP. We also expect to cover another 30 events on the secondary stream, with no commentary/graphics.”Yes, we do plan to do chip counts for all events. Obviously, we expect to ramp up the coverage once events are in the money, when the pots tend to mean more. We are encouraging players to Tweet their own chip counts and use event numbers as hashtags, and we’ll effort to include those in our feeds on WSOP.com. So an example would be “Up to 8,400 after two levels. Running good. #WSOPEV5” That would tell us this is a chip count from Event 5 of the WSOP and we’d capture it.
Will you do video updates?
Yes, we will incorporate video into our offerings, both with video snippets each day, plus extensive live streaming of final tables which will once again feature commentary by David Tuchman. We plan to do 31 live streams with Tuchman over the first 35 days of WSOP. We also expect to cover another 30 events on the secondary stream, with no commentary/graphics.
There are 7-8 events we won’t be able to cover because they are the third final table that day. But otherwise, expect the hole-card 30-minute delay with Tuchman version, with rotating player analysts all on WSOP.com from May 28-July 5. We are actually looking for one person staff-wise here—both a talent producer and potentially an on-camera interviewer. They would help book players as guests for the live stream and do some player interviews as well.