How to spice up live tournament poker streams [Editorial]

How to spice up live tournament poker streams [Editorial]

Friday, 21 October 2011

Recently I wrote a piece praising the live streaming of poker tournaments; ESPN and the WSOP, PokerStars and the EPT and many other major live events are now taking the route of live broadcasting for final tables or even entire tournaments.

In the aforementioned article it was not so much the current live streams that I was getting excited over, rather the prospects a breakthrough in the popularity of this media could tap. I envisioned an in-studio presentation with pundits from online and live poker, cutting to key hands and not showing the eight-minute tanks facing a raise on the turn.

I touched briefly on the subject in the last article, but there are some things holding live poker broadcasting back. Firstly, security is an issue. In fact, it's less about security and more about the integrity of the game at this juncture. Take, for example, ESPN's decision to broadcast the impending WSOP Main Event final table on a 15-minute delay.

Fifteen minutes. With think-time, post-hand celebrations, TV production and the general pace of live poker, a quarter of an hour is a delay of one hand - if that. Now everyone is playing with hole cards face up. How do we sort this problem out; sequester the players and take all forms of communication from them? Each of them has 50 to 200 supporters in the stands, what prevents them from chanting "he had ace jack!!"

The issue of security with live broadcasting is obvious, though even a small 15-minute delay will prevent players being able to become live super users. In theory, the idea of cameras at every table for a live broadcast could work, but is it viable? It would take immense amounts of money and manpower in an industry that is short over $500m and floundering at the moment (thanks, Howard!)

The main issue with live tournament poker, though? It's just plain boring. Very few people want to watch poker, with or without hole cards, live. I don't want to watch Matt Giannetti think for seven minutes any more than I want to see an edited version of a tournament that boils down to constant all-ins.

That's my Devil's advocacy done for today; I actually think live poker broadcasting could go really far. It needs to be in-studio with clips, a "live highlights" show. Of course, who knows how anything poker-related will go nowadays? We'll have to wait and see.

Tags: Matt Perry, Editorial, live stream, WSOP Main Event, ESPN