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WSOP Coverage Debate and Debates

Aug 11, 2007
Author: Catrina Rudd

Who has the opportunity to cover the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour? Theoretically, anyone who is permitted a press pass and travels with a laptop and wireless card. Then who gets unregulated access to the events? Currently, that depends on who pays the most.


Card Player Media is without a doubt still stinging after a public lashing from pro poker player and PokerNews owner Tony G for purportedly pilfering exclusive chip counts from his site at this year's WSOP. It appears PokerNews is the latest media organization to purchase freedom of the press by means of signing a contract with the World Poker Tour to supply exclusive coverage of the Season 6 tournaments.


It's hardly terra incognita for the poker media giant Card Player had made a similar deal with the World Series of Poker in 2006. For that they received such privileges as exclusive access to hand reportage at a tournament's 15-table mark and audio rights. The details on the new WORLD POKER TOUR deal have yet to be revealed, but in a news release, Card Player Media CEO Barry Shulman said the new contract would enlarge coverage of WORLD POKER TOUR events.

A portion of the contract details that have been released are the exclusive rights to up-to-the-minute chip counts and hand-by-hand coverage of every single Season 6 WORLD POKER TOUR tournament. Any other interested media organizations will receive the information in summarized news feeds from the WORLD POKER TOUR on the hour.


The deal was enough to set WORLD POKER TOUR CEO Steven Lipscomb spinning about how limiting media access will benefit the company as it attempts to reach new markets worldwide."(W)e wanted to further develop our Live Updates online reporting capabilities so we can continue delivering the most robust tournament news and information to our fans," he said in the press release.

Though it can't be argued that limiting press rights in an entertainment industry such as online poker is akin to putting boundaries on the news media, the announcement is troubling, by and large for all other media sources, however it is also an obstacle for people who like to get their tournament information through multiple sources.

Overall, diversity is healthy equally for the customer and the corporation. One powerful and recognized competitive team would be The New York Times, an internationally recognized newspaper, and the Post. With only one or the other, many people would find no interest in the newspaper at all, but together they reach a broad wide-ranging audience. Competition is key to ensuring quality of reporting, what is the motivation for a company who seeks exclusive rights to produce high quality work? More often than not, one organization fails to perform as well as many could.

Buying and selling exclusive media access does not guarantee the most knowledgeable staff and could mean excluding people whose flair, skill and understanding of the game could draw a larger or more enthusiastic audience. It can be said that Jeffrey Pollack and Steve Lipscomb are simply seeking their personal benefit at the cost of poker's growing popularity. There is no persuasive argument suggesting how limiting media access to poker tournaments will be advantageous for the game. This demonstrates it's not about what's good for poker; it's just a means to make money.

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