I’d been playing poker for over five years before I stepped foot in the Commerce. As much as I had heard about the legendary card room, I was still awed by its majesty. It was a temple built to please the poker gods – and all those who came to worship at its tables.
I hadn’t planned on covering the 2007 LAPC. But a week before the event, I got a call asking if I could be out there to discuss the possibility of doing Mike’s book. I basically sold myself cheap, getting on the PokerNews team for the price of the air fare. It would be many months later before an agreement was reached for the book – lawyers – but the seeds were sown in LA.
I loved the Commerce, but I clearly wasn’t the only one. I’ve never taken so many pictures of players smiling. They all just loved being there. It was like they were home. And now it’s the new home of Tournament Director Matt Savage. Somehow it all fits. Matt is a poker player’s TD and I can’t think of a room that will appreciate his skill and philosophy more than the Commerce.
I remember talking with the WPT about potentially covering their 2008 tournament at the Beau Rivage. I thought I could put together a couple of nice articles promoting the rebirth of the Beau Rivage post Katrina, while promoting the WPT’s event. They were very polite, but explained that there would be no work space available to the outside media and I would be allowed access to the tournament room for 15 minutes, when and if an escort was available. I passed.
The following February, I got a nice invite from the Commerce to come out and play in their media event before the LAPC Championship. I almost had to laugh. What was the point of hosting a media event if the WPT didn’t want outside media coverage? But I guess I’ve always viewed the exclusive media coverage model, for all sports, as short-sighted. As poker’s candle starts to burn dimmer, you’d think sponsors and hosts would like a little mainstream light shining on the game. But it is what it is.
So as the LAPC gears up, with preliminary events kicking off next week, I want to wish Matt and the Commerce the best of luck. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say something is “good for poker” – but this clearly is.
Player photos all taken at the 2007 LAPC: Chau Giang, Vanessa Rousso, Jason “strassa2” Strasser, Allen Cuningham, Todd Brunson, and “Bodog Ari” Engel.