Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Where's Nike? Where's Pepsi? Where's Apple?"...indeed.

I'm in such a hole at work, having taken seven days off to try my hand in Vegas at this year's World Series of Poker. I took my shot, but came up short this time. Each night, I review what I need to get taken care of and tick off the list as soon as I can each morning so I can check in to Twitter to find out what's new. It's hard out here for a pimp lawyer/delusional poker pro wanna-be. I keep thinking there's gotta be a market for a poker obsessed twitter-holic, but I think I missed the boat (besides, there's so many of us!) and unless (until) I fulfill my goal of being the first woman to win the WSOP Main Event, I just have to keep my chin up.
But let's look at the demographic that I'm a part of...a female, (well) over the age of 22 who can't really use her looks to get anywhere but who's trying hard not to go quietly into that good night, a mom, a regular joe with a decent job and a love of only the best music (not even debatable) - yep, the one who does most of the grocery and basic household shopping. Just yesterday I took the little one to Academy for new shoes. Sounds familiar, right?

That's why my ears really pricked up this morning when I heard Paul Harris make a comment on his Final Table Radio Show (link here, also a don't-miss listen for @KaraOTR fans).  First off, he said that women only made up 3.5% of this year's Main Event. Ugh. Then, when discussing beefy jerky and slippers (this year's big sponsors), Harris asked, "Where's Nike? Where's Pepsi? Where's Apple?"  And he's right. Where are they?

No one can say for sure what this year's attendance numbers would've been if there'd been no Black Friday (info re same here and here), but we do know that 75,672 entries in a total of 58 events was a record and that 6,865 entries into the Main Event was the third highest ever (@JessWelman is the go-to source for all "WSOP By The Numbers" info). And while they're all in Vegas, they really are a captive audience with (at least some) disposable income.

The more I write, the angrier I get. Who are the idiots holding up the purse strings to get online poker regulated? Why is the American Gaming Association (AGA) not in support of the Barton Bill? What lobbies are behind each that are just generally screwing up my (and your) right to play?  And what can a regular schmoe like me do about it (@PokerGrump wrote an interesting take here)?

I wish I had an answer for that. All I do know is that everywhere you look at the tables in the Rio, you see people who look like you. They're young, they're old, male and female, they're American, Italian, Swedish, Hungarian, Mexican, French, and every nationality under the sun. They're listening to music on an iPod, playing Angry Birds on an iPad, tweeting/texting on an iPhone, decked out fairly decently, and often in tennis shoes, and ordering a drink from a cocktail waitress.They're spending money and taking a shot. Some are beneficiaries of a tremendous pay-out, most count their pennies, or left over Rio chips, and make plans for next year.

Sitting at a Rio DeepStacks one night I listened as @JoeTall and two other pros scanned the room and marveled at the numbers. Joe Tall said it best, "yeah, poker's dead, alright."

Ain't that the truth...


  1. The American Gaming Association is not supporting the Barton bill because the PPA is. And they believe--with justification--that the PPA is tainted because they were largely funded by PokerStars and Full Tilt. So any bill that has PPA backing will not have AGA backing, unless it works the other way around, the AGA backs a bill first and then PPA gets on board.

  2. Anon - so for the good of the industry (and wallets?) these two entities couldn't get it together to work collectively and bring about much needed change? Do you have some resources you could point me to that would help me understand this better? Who benefits from their stalemate and what can players, vendors, etc, do about it, if anything? Which bill do you think is better, and why? ps - thanks for your comment!

  3. We are beginning the political funny season, so I don't expect anything to pass. Perhaps someone in Congress will bury online poker legislation in an omnibus bill and pray that no one reads it before it becomes law. It happened once before, right?

  4. I think that in order to grow female participation in poker generally and in tournaments specifically the culture of poker needs to change somewhat. Every day I see obnoxious hostile behavior from male players to players both female and male who they claim do not play as well as they do. I realize much of this stems from insecurity but making the atmosphere bad means that some people will not come back and grow as players.

    The passage of a poker bill requires the proper corporate special interests to ensure an almost monopoly like power structure so that they will be guaranteed to dominate the market. A fair bill would mean that Harrah's and Wynn would not been the main operators. There are also significant Indian interests who feel their casinos would be hurt (probably wrongly) and have been funneling huge amounts of dollars to fight these bills. Additionally the dying Horse Race industry led by the jerks at Twin Spires have also locked up a few key senators who continue to obstruct.

  5. Albus - I hope you're wrong, but with the issues facing the US these days, you're likely right - poker is surely not in the mix. Joe Barton's affiliation gives me hope, though, and that's about all we got. Ugh.

    Laoch, it is tough at the tables for women, but it's such a great game and such a wonderful outlet for anyone with a competitive drive (but you know this...). That's why I think the women you do see going deep (both Vanessas, for example) are just so so good. It does suck that there's that element of luck in poker, but sure does make it exciting. Did you see that hand (66s v QhJh)? She was 72% fave when she called. Ugh. As for the corporate special interests, double ugh. You're right and I hate it.


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