I’m the Third Best Poker Photog Ever?

I’ve blogged before about how my life has a history of silly run-ins with celebrities and the notorious.  Between film school, a brief stint in Hollywood, and close interactions with the “poker famous”, I’ve amassed several hours of dinner conversation topics, including my run-in with West Side Story’s Richard Beymer or being a seat filler at the SAG Awards.  These stories aren’t so much accomplishments as they are just entertaining, which is why I always laugh when my friend Josh spurns my good fortune, as if it is only through my own hard work and dedication that I once had a meaningful conversation with Seth Green in a food court at the mall.

Really, most of these interactions are a little mix of being in the right place at the right time and a smidgen of hard work in that I was afforded the opportunity to be there in the first  place.

Such is the case in the story of this photo, which I snapped at a WSOP in either 2008 or 2009:

At the time, Brett Collson and I took this picture not because we wanted to get a big scoop or were concerned about traffic, but simply because we wanted visual evidence this had happened.  We basically wanted to prove our eyes weren’t deceiving us.  At the time, Twitter wasn’t big, so the photo didn’t really take off. It was only months after the fact that TwoPlusTwo and Twitter started to circulate the image along with stories of Phil Ivey (pictured, in case you are not familiar with the biggest name in poker) and his opulence.

I didn’t really think much of that photo in the years since taking it, so much so that I actually had to confirm with Brett the other day that I was, in fact, the one who did.  

Even funnier, the reason it came up is because it got mentioned in the awesome countdown series Wicked Chops Poker is doing with great poker photographs.  In the original post, they mentioned they couldn’t track down who took the photo, which makes sense, as PocketFives Live no longer exists as a website, so there is no archive where this picture lives.  Plus, many poker folks probably don’t remember I spent my first two WSOPs in 2008 and 2009 working for the small boutique site.

While it is flattering to have a photo included in the list, this is a prime example of funny dinner table conversation as opposed to an actual accomplishment.  Sure, it is nifty to say, “I took the third best picture in poker media history”, but it isn’t because it is stunningly composed. It is just that I was in the right place at the right time and happened to find something funny.  If it had been a year later, it would’ve been all over Twitter and there wouldn’t be just one photo of Ivey, it would have been a whole meme with an array of pics and angles.  In other words, when it came to the money shot, I just got lucky.  That is really how all of tournament reporting works though.  The ones who get the good hands roam the floor, looking for opportunities, trying to set up a situation where they get lucky and catch something good.  

Maybe that is my takeaway from this little walk down memory lane.  The skill set of a tournament reporter is pretty random, but one thing I got pretty good at wasn’t taking pictures, it was setting myself up to be there for the good stuff, whether it be because I put in the hours, learned where to look, or refused to settle for anything I didn’t want to read about myself.

I like that I helped contribute this little piece of poker history to the community, but I certainly hope that when my career contributions gets evaluated, this one makes the list, but isn’t the only entry.  That being said though, the fact I will be forever associated with something as mythic as Phil Ivey in his prime is certainly an ace up my sleeve for those dinner conversations where people want to hear my most poker-y of poker stories.

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