Interview with the Andy Bloch(Page 2 of 2)
You paid your way through Harvard Law with gambling winnings - how did other students and professors react to that?
"People knew about it. I put it on my law school application because I had to explain what I was doing for a couple years that I wasn't working or going to school. So, I definitely explained the whole blackjack thing there. In my first year of law school, Mohegan Sun opened up, and that was a big weekend for us. I took a limo from law school with a couple of my friends to the casino. I was probably one of the most well-known people in my class. They might not know who I was, but they knew about 'the gambler.' The movie 'Rounders' came out, and all my friends were like, 'Hey - that's you! They stole your story.' Because Matt Damon's character is in law school, and he drops out to pursue his poker career. I was kinda the opposite - I put my poker career on hold to go to law school."
Then you graduated and didn't practice law.
"I never actually practiced other than defending myself. I did appeal a case where I was arrested in D.C. at an anti-war protest a few years ago. I challenged my conviction for that and won my appeal. So, there's actually a case: Bloch vs. District of Columbia."
Speaking of legal issues, what's your take on the World Poker Tour contract debate?
"There's a group of players, myself included, who don't play in any World Poker Tour events because of the release they make all the players sign. Basically the release says they can do anything they want with the player's likeness, name or image to promote any kind of product. Over the past couple months, they've made a few changes to that, but in my mind, the changes haven't gone far enough. The bulk of the rights, the WPT still wants to keep. The players aren't saying, 'We don't want the WPT to make money.' That's not the question. The issue is we don't want the WPT to make money and compete with us without paying us. They're not even giving us an option to say, 'We'd rather not be in your DVD because we have our own DVD.' Right now, you win a World Poker Tour event, you're all excited, and what's the first thing that happens? They stick a beer in your hand and say, 'Let's toast Budweiser.' And they don't compensate you for that."
What other action are you taking besides sitting out?
"There's been some negation with the WPT, and we're continuing to work on that. I think it's too early to tell, but eventually the WPT will have to address these issues."
What about the huge numbers at this year's WSOP? Do you welcome the money, or are things getting a little out of hand?
"The Series is going to be bigger than it was last year, but last year it was a quantum leap from the year before. This year, it's more of a natural progression. But, all the web sites and other people realize what happened last year, so there's going to be a response to that. I think what you'll see this year is more of an idea of what will happen in the future, rather than the transition of the past two years. I think Harrah's needs to figure out what they want to do with the World Series. Do they want to keep it as a $10,000 buy-in? This year they're going to have a $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, which will be the biggest buy-in ever in the World Series. That may become a more prestigious event to win than the main event, if only because the field is of higher caliber on average. The $50,000 buy-in is going to weed out a lot of the amateurs, and unlike the main event - where a lot of people qualify online - there aren't going to be a lot of people qualifying for the H.O.R.S.E. event online.
What changes do you think the future holds for the WSOP?
"It remains to be seen what's going to happen to the World Series over the next couple years. I have my ideas about what Harrah's should do. I think they should split up the event and have Day 1 and Day 2 all around the country throughout the year. Then, in Vegas, it starts on Day 3. That way, people are playing in the main event - they're not playing in the World Series of Poker Circuit events - they're playing in the World Series of Poker. They can play locally at whatever their closest Harrah's casino is, whether it's Atlantic City, Southern California, New Orleans, Indiana - wherever. Then they can reconvene and play it as a super satellite where everybody starts with the same amount of chips or let the chips carry over or do some sort of combination."
Do you think it's harder for new pros to emerge these days?
"I definitely got lucky that I was involved in poker when the World Poker Tour started and that I made a couple final tables then. It's a lot harder now unless you win the main event of the World Series. If you win one WPT event, it's not going to make you a huge star. If you want to be a star, you can work on it and get yourself known, but you'll have to make multiple events. If you're a twenty-something, it'll probably help, rather than being older. Someone brand new that comes along who's 80 years old would be a sensation, but a very brief one. ESPN is going to do a little segment on you, but Doyle Brunson wasn't built in a day."
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