Televised Poker

The whole poker community owes Late Night Poker a huge debt of gratitude. Thanks to this show, we now have a plethora of programmes on tournaments and poker “characters,” which in turn has led to the poker sponsorship that we’ve all been waiting for.

That’s great stuff … well, not all of it is.

Take Late Night Poker, for instance. That programme, revolutionary as it was, could have been a whole lot better. I did one of the commentaries with Jesse May, and as much as I enjoyed it, I was annoyed that the editing was so poor. One minute, we would all be looking at Player X, well endowed with a mountain of chips, and the very next frame, the same player would be nursing a miniscule stack. Where did all of his ammo go? Could I explain to the viewers that he’d suffered some bad beats? Nope — the powers that be didn’t care. Could we have heard more of what the players were saying to each other, as some of it was very funny and provocative? Nope — television likes long, silent, “dramatic” moments.

How about the Poker Million? The first series held in the Isle of Man was fantastic, probably because it was live and therefore had no editing to interfere with John Duthie’s magical performance. As for the following two series, well, I wonder if the office of fair trading would be interested in a programme with a title that bore about as much resemblance to its contents as Arnold Schwarzenegger does to Tobey Maguire. And how about cancelling one series just three weeks before filming? Many poker players were left fuming about their travel arrangements that then had to be scrapped.

On to the World Poker Championships, recently televised in Dublin’s fair city. This was the first European poker tournament that was shot “on location,” and because of that, there were many unexpected problems. It’s obviously a whole lot easier to film in a studio than in a Grade 2-listed Georgian town house with four flights of stairs. Cramming two poker tables, an audience, and a camera crew into such a confined space meant there were many delays. Filming two heats a day resulted in the cameramen working from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. the following day. They were not happy bunnies, nor were the players who expected to be starting at 3 p.m. …