If you’d have asked me when I wrote this article for the PokerStars blog back in August 2014 that I’d be working in Vegas within two years, I would have probably let out a wistful sigh and something along the lines of: “I wish!” Well here I am 576 days later, able to proudly say that all the hard work has paid off. I will be working as a member of the WSOP’s reporting team in Las Vegas between the 31st May and the 19th July. Not as work experience or an internship – but actually working. For seven weeks. In Vegas. I still haven’t got my head around it.
The road to Vegas begins in Barcelona less than two years ago and travels through a number of amazing destinations before ending up where we are now. I could talk about the time I played pool (and won) against two American poker pros in Malta. I could mention how amazing the steak was when I reported on the WSOPC in Marrakech. Or that time I was so starstruck ordering McDonalds whilst standing next to Dzmitry Urbanovich. But I’ll save those for another time. This story begins, as many do, with a man’s decision to have a beer.
Now I’m not saying I flew all the way to WSOPE Berlin just to speak to WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, but speak to him I did. On a tournament break I had slipped off to the bar to order a beer, and half-way through I spied him walking back up towards the tournament floor. Ever since I was a child, my mother has always taught me: “Don’t ask, don’t get.” Now was my chance. I drained the rest of my beer and set off as inconspicuously as I could power-walking through the Spielbank Berlin in an attempt to cut him off before he hit the stairs. Over the course of three flights of stairs, I managed to word-vomit out who I was and what I wanted to him, and I am thankful that he gave someone like me the time in what was obviously a busy environment for him.
As a direct result of that conversation, in early December last year I emailed WSOP Vice President Seth Palansky. The WSOP is seemingly not up to much in December as I received a reply within three hours, saying that he would forward my details to the person in charge of live reporting, adding that it was “Nice to see someone doing what they can to gain experience and get entrenched in an industry they have passion for.”
Fast forward to February and I’ve rushed back from a university lecture in time to hear my phone buzz, and see an unknown number flash up along with the words: “Las Vegas, NV, United States”. The phone interview was with Rob Kirschen, the WSOP’s Digital Content Manager. It went well until I confessed that I wasn’t entirely sure when my final year exams were. They hadn’t been scheduled yet; all I knew was that my exam term was between the 9th May and the 17th June. We agreed that I would let him know when the timetable was released. I kept saying to people, including my family, that if I needed to drop my pen on my final exam and pick up my suitcase and head to the airport, I would do it. In any case, imagine my joy last week when I received an email with the dates. My last exam?
The 27th May. Four days before the start of the 2016 WSOP. I quickly sent off an email to Rob and he said he’d get back to me the next week.
That was Friday and come Monday evening an email had appeared in my inbox.
“On behalf of the World Series of Poker I’d like to extend a formal offer for you to join our reporting team for 2016”
In conclusion, in little over two months I will be flying out to Vegas. With other essay deadlines looming, my final year dissertation still ongoing, and exams just around the corner it’s like that moment in Rounders. I want people to think that I’m working diligently, “but all I’m really thinkin’ about it Vegas and the fuckin’ Mirage.”