BLOG – The Dichotomy of Televised Poker

BLOG – The Dichotomy of Televised Poker

Thursday, 7 October 2010

As you should be aware I was doing exclusive live reporting for the UKIPT Champion of Champions tournament earlier this week and thus witnessed first-hand (after railing the EPT London final table too) the meteoric rise of David Vamplew from NL400 nobody to world and UK champion of everything poker, ever. Well, not quite, but still – a good week for the Scot.

It made me realise just how vast the gap is between preferences of the poker community with regards to televised events. I, and I suspect most other big poker fans (by which I mean people that play; by which I mean people actually aware of the concept of position and pot odds and don’t just play a home game once a week) prefer the likes of High Stakes Poker to ESPN’s WSOP broadcast.

Why? Because, for me, tournament poker in the late stages of an event – especially the way they edit it – is the equivalent of reducing football to two men either end of a pitch taking turns attempting to boot the ball a hundred yards into the goal. Sure, all-ins and big suckouts might make for good TV but you’re reducing poker to a near all luck standpoint and you can’t see any actual plays.

Take, now, High Stakes Poker in which the best players in the world buy in for real cash and play with deep stacks in a high stakes game. You get to see 4-bet bluffs; river check-raises, three street calldowns with bottom pair. You just can’t get that in a tournament.

The UKIPT Champion of Champions event seemed to try to cater for both – the 250BB starting stacks and low blinds were a blessing, though not for me as I rarely saw a turn or river and had to watch a lot of non-showdown pots. Anyway, that was good – I liked it, deep stacks and good structure.
Then it all went mental. The blind levels were 30 minutes which meant we had two hours of deepstacked poker before an hour of madness where stacks were suddenly short and... well, the amount of times I ran off to type up an elimination and upload it, only to come back and find another player had hit the rail. It was crazy.

So maybe that’s the answer? Show a lot of deep play, then lots of all-ins? I’m up for compromise.

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