For a full write-up of the call (which lasted about 45 minutes), head to Betfair Poker where I’ve sorted out into topics most of the items that were discussed.
When my turn arose, I asked a couple of questions. The first was about the logo/patch situation. I mentioned in yesterday’s post how Full Tilt Poker has seven sponsored players among the November Nine, yet there is that WSOP rule regarding televised tables that limits sponsors to having just three players sport their logos.
I was curious about the issue because earlier in the week on “This Week in Poker” one of those seven players -- John Racener -- had indicated he was under the impression that all seven would be wearing Full Tilt patches. But Ty Stewart, VP of Harrah’s/WSOP, confirmed yesterday that the rule would certainly be enforced.
I noted yesterday how it seemed curious that even the players being sponsored by FTP didn’t know which three among them would be patched. On the same show, Victory Poker CEO Dan Fleyshman recognized Full Tilt Poker’s strategy here -- by not announcing early which three players will be representing the site, all seven players remain identified with Full Tilt Poker right up until the start of the final table.
I wonder, though, if this strategy might negatively affect the chances for the four players who will not be wearing FTP logos to score alternate deals?
I directed my second question to Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, the commentators for ESPN’s WSOP coverage. I asked them to talk about the fact that they’ve been doing this same gig for more than seven years now.
Since I didn’t cover that question over on Betfair, I thought I’d share their response here. McEachern was the first to answer.
“You know, honestly, as Norman has mentioned a number of times, it was his dream as a kid to sit around and watch people play poker,” McEachern cracked.
“That’s all of our dreams!” I said jokingly. “Yeah, exactly!” said McEachern with a laugh. Then came the real response.
“For myself,” said McEachern, “I was doing a lot of niche sports with ESPN for a number of years, and that was kind of my bailiwick to do some oddball sports. Baseball, football, basketball... that was all taken up. So when [the chance to cover the WSOP arose], I had the foothold. I was the only one at ESPN doing it.”
McEachern went on speak with humility about how the pair has yet to “screw it up” thus far, and in fact have “grown in the role” and gotten better as the years have passed.
This “right-place-right-time” theme was something Chad touched upon as well in his response.
“As far as the ‘poker boom’ goes and ESPN’s success with the World Series of Poker [is concerned], Lon and I are just passengers in the getaway car,” said Chad. “This all would have happened with or without us, and we just happened to be there and as Lon mentioned we haven’t screwed up.... We’ve somehow stayed there since it began in ’03, but it’s just happenstance. It was a piano falling out of the sky for me, and instead of crushing me it landed next to me. And I knew how to play the piano.”
I liked their responses, and especially Chad’s choice of metaphors. Made me think a lot about the good fortune I’ve enjoyed thus far writing about poker and the opportunities that have come my way. Also made me think a little about poker, too, and how luck so often plays an important role there.
Stewart then chimed in to add a few words of praise for McEachern and Chad, noting how in his opinion “their longevity is a testament to the fact that they’re the best and they’re true professionals.”
Stewart noted how he’d been with the WSOP for five years now, and how early on he “made the mistake” of checking out “Two Plus Two and some of those other crazy poker sites.” He saw how those sites do feature a lot of critical commentary on all things poker, but recognized that “people universally agree” that McEachern and Chad do a terrific job.
Of course, one doesn’t have to hunt around very long on Two Plus Two to find criticisms of ESPN and the commentators. But I think Stewart is basically right to point out that McEachern and Chad are liked by many, and on the whole do receive a lot more praise than censure. I know I am a fan of both, for sure.
Like I say, for more on the conference call, click on over to Betfair Poker.