Monday, March 16, 2015

Welcome to the Chip Race

When I was an international ultrarunner, there were two things that me and my fellow ultra runners tended to bitch about when we got together. The first was the lack of general media coverage of our sport. We had world record holders, world and European champions, winners of "majors" like the North Pole marathon and the New York ultra: yet to judge by the (non) coverage we got from national TV radio and press, you'd never know. Our second pet peeve was lack of Government support and funding.

Looking back, I can see that the two were pretty clearly linked (the Government probably saw no reason they should fund something so few people cared about), and I can't help but wonder who was to blame for the first peeve. As runners we tended to take it as a dereliction of duty by the national media not to cover a sport where we as a nation punched way above our weight, but the flip side is perhaps as runners the onus was on us to get them interested. Many of the runners who bitched the most about lack of coverage turned into bitchy prima donnas that were difficult to interview as soon as a reporter did take an interest. It's true that a lot of the time the reporter had a sensationalist "Here's a nutcase who runs around in circles for 24 hours" agenda in mind, but rather than try to educate them, many runners just retreated into a defensive shell.

Poker is a lot more popular in Ireland than ultra running will ever be, yet comparatively it suffers from a similar lack of coverage by the mainstream media. RTE has never really covered poker properly beyond a derisory fly through the bar at Irish Open every year and a sloppily produced (very) late night series that died a death a few years ago. The mainstream press coverage is bitty at best and rarely extends past the fill in name and number template (player X won amount Y). There is no specialist media here, so the coverage we do get tends to be limited to UK based publications and TV shows that take a kindly interest, seeing us as a kind of extension of their own scene. As my first girlfriend Julie (who was English) used to say only half jokingly, the English find it easy enough to warm to the Irish (more so than, say, the French or the Germans) because "you speak the language kind of, you have the same sense of humour sort of, and on a good day Hell if you put your best Aran jumper on you could almost pass for English".

As Irish poker players, it seems to me we have a choice if we feel we deserve more media attention (it is worth noting many don't and would prefer to hide in a cave rather than talk to a journalist). We can either bitch about it, or we can try to do something about it.

This week, in conjunction with David Lappin and Daragh Davey, I will be attempting to do something about it, in the form of a new podcast we are launching called "The Chip Race". The aim is to shine a spotlight on Irish poker beyond the few top players with a sufficient international profile to attract the global media, and to give a fuller picture of the Irish and UK poker scene beyond the big names and big scores. The approach is lighter than most existing poker podcasts and aimed at a more general audience. As such, I'm pretty thrilled our first major guest is Tom Kitt, as there are few nicer or more entertaining guys around than Tom. The podcast is produced by Ocean Blue studios who already do a couple of successful podcasts for cricket (the Slog Sweep) and rugby (Down The Blind Side), and is very much David's baby. He's the one who has put in the bulk of the work pre production. He's also the one I'll be attempting to shovel all the blame on if it doesn't work out for us :)

Given that my last blog was mostly a brag about my fourth Triple Crown, there was a serious danger there would be a sense of deja vu as I came close to another one last week. After winning the 50 rebuy on Party on Wednesday, I won Friday's Hot 30 on French Stars, followed by the Sunday Phoenix on Paddy Power. However, it turned out that given the current woes of the Euro, the Hot 30 prize pool was about a hundred bucks short of the $10k minimum required, so no 5th Triple Crown for me. I did have a couple of more nights to try to get a qualifying third win but despite a couple of FTs couldn't close it out. Ah well, can't win em all I guess (or win a Triple Crown every week).

Related reading:

- Interview with Danny Maxwell for IPB on the Chip Race
- A couple of strategy pieces on whether speech play and showing cards at the table, parts one and two



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