2011 November Nine Broadcast Thoughts

Posted by James Guill on Nov 08, 2011 Posted in Op-Ed, WSOP News | No Comments »

Like many in the poker world on Sunday, I tuned in to the WSOP Main Event coverage on ESPN2.  I actually stayed with the broadcast for the entire day and into the late night here in Virginia, making it the longest I have watched poker in a very long time.  Below are some thoughts regarding the live broadcast.

Live Coverage Great for Poker Players – Horrible for Casual Fans

As a poker player, the live coverage on ESPN was great.  It became apparent within the first half hour that many of the kinks in the coverage over the summer had been worked out and what resulted was a free flow of information to viewers at home.

With maybe the exception of the second hand, I believe we saw hole cards for every hand played on TV.  That itself I found impressive.  I expected a few more missed hands just based on mental lapses, technical errors, etc.

The down side is that for many causal fans, this was like watching paint dry.  One fan outright told me that he cut it off after a single hand when he realized that cards were not going to be available during the hands.

Casual fans are not interested in trying to put players on hands.  They want to be able to see what the guy has from the beginning and during the hand because it makes it more exciting for them.  Those same fans could care less that the way poker was portrayed yesterday is how it really happens.

Lay Off of Phil Hellmuth

I really hated seeing all of the negative comments towards Phil Hellmuth’s commentary on the broadcast last night.  While it is true that Phil does not understand all the intricacies of the modern game, the man still has 11 bracelets.  People are forgetting that in many hands, he was spot on in regards of putting players on hands.

Yes, Phil plays tighter and many feels that his game has lagged behind in areas.  Still remember that the man has much more experience in big time tournament situations than anyone at the final table, or anyone at the broadcast.

Didn’t Have the Same Vibe

To me, the live broadcast yesterday didn’t have the same vibe as either the streams of past years or even the edited content.  I also feel that the crowds and rooting sections weren’t focused on nearly as much as they should have been.  Adding some color to the broadcasts would have definitely helped spice things up and made it more entertaining.

Overall, I think that the live broadcast of the Main Event has been a tremendous success.  As with every new experiment, there are growing pains and this will be no exception.  The quality has already improved from this summer and I expect it to improve as this concept continues.  For poker fans, this is the wave of the future.  Now maybe it is time to focus on ways to draw back casual fans or keep the ones that stick around more entertained.

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