Just a quick review for those of you just tuning in for the WSOP Main Event. For the past six weeks I have been following three players: Liz Lieu, Gavin Smith and Tony G. The idea was to watch, listen, and learn what it is like to play an entire World Series of Poker from the professional's point of view. So, here is how it went and here are some lessons I learned from the pros that might help every reader with their own game.
First, I want to thank Tony, Liz and Gavin again for the access and the enjoyment this assignment provided. Each of them was open to questions and offered numerous unsolicited comments and observations that made my task so much easier. Liz, for instance, actually would send me text messages from her table when I was not able to be by her side. She also took time away from the events to talk with me about the entire scope of her game and how her poker career was integrated into her life. Then there was the extended interview I got while Liz had her hair transformed from blue to purple. Quite an experience for me and not one I expected when I signed on for this gig.
Tony was always ready to call me over to a table between hands, not only to let me know what I had missed at his table but to give me leads on other stories in the room. He also always remembered whatever conversation we had had the day before and would add any thoughts he had overnight that would clarify and add to my previous reports. Tony's blog also was a great source of information for me on how he was holding up under the day after day after day of poker at the Series. Tony also got me inside access to his coaching debut at the Mansion Pro-Am event.
Gavin Smith not only gave me a long pre-series interview at his home, he also read the reports every day and offer commentary and critique the following day when I came to his table. Gavin is never one to mince or save words, so hanging out at his table was always a great source of material and also just plain fun. His side bets with Tony G. and others were always intriguing and a real insight into how much thought can go into what appears to be a casual prop bet. Gavin is my example of a player whose outside life and life-in-poker are in complete synch.
Therein lies the lesson of our Spotlight Series. With the massive growth in all things poker, there are many more "away from the table" demands on the professional players then ever before. Photo shoots, meet & greets, online qualifier duties, websites, blogs and the list goes on. All of these take time and focus away from the game, away from the professionals actual J-O-B. It's a problem that many professional players are grappling with, not just our three spotlight players. John Juanda told me back on the first day of the first event that he had not gotten his planned 'time off' before the Series because of all the business demands.
Big time, big game, big name players need a good support staff; whether that is a manager, a publicist, or just an assistant. Unfortunately, some players are finding that managing the paid help is a job in itself. This is all new to the players, they thought they were just here to play some poker but as the action and the prize pools go up and up, so do the demands on the player's time. Managing all of this certainly has more than one professional player's energies focused somewhere other than at the table.
Good Luck to all three of our 'Spotlight' players, we will see you down the road in another event at another venue.