While I continue to follow a number of poker podcasts -- and now, online video shows like “This Week in Poker” -- there really are only a small number for which I try never to miss a show, and The Poker Beat was one of them. Indeed, it’s possible I might have been one of those who listened to all 95 episodes since the show’s debut back on January 29, 2009.
The Poker Beat was the latest poker podcasting effort of Scott Huff, primary host of the show and veteran of several previous poker podcasts including CardPlayer’s The Circuit, PokerWire Radio, and Big Poker Sundays. If I’m not mistaken, the first Circuit show dates back to late 2005, meaning Huff has been at this off-and-on (mostly on) for more than five years.
In other words -- I realize as I write this -- I’ve been listening to Huff’s podcasts a little longer than I’ve been keeping this blog (started in April 2006). Thus have I had several occasions here to respond to items discussed on his shows and commend his significant contributions to reporting on poker.
Unlike the previous shows, The Poker Beat was consciously modeled after those Sunday morning news programs that gather reporters to debate topics of the day. I think I remember Huff early on evoking ESPN’s “Around the Horn” as a possible analogue, too, which it indeed resembled (aside from the faux-game show stuff they incorporate into the ESPN show).
Huff’s “roundtable” most often consisted of poker media types like John Caldwell (a co-host for many of the shows), B.J. Nemeth, Gary Wise, Dan Michalski, and Jess Welman, with Joe Stapleton also contributing frequently with his “Tight Laydown,” a humorous postscript to the discussions in which he, too, commented on the week’s stories through a satirical lens. Other bloggers/reporters/media-types were invited into the discussions as well from time to time, too, including like Dr. Pauly, Amy Calistri, Matthew Parvis, among others.
Like I say, I don’t believe I missed an episode. Even if I was already very familiar with a news item being discussed -- perhaps having written on it myself or been present at the event under consideration -- I always looked forward to hearing what the group had to say. One big reason why I did was the relative independence (i.e., freedom from the influence of sponsors and other content-affecting forces) the show enjoyed when it came reporting.
As was the case on his previous shows -- and even “Poker2Nite,” the television show Huff co-hosted with Joe Sebok that was sponsored by UB -- The Poker Beat pretty much always featured a kind of editorial objectivity, at least relatively speaking. Some may want to disagree with me here, but the point I’m making is simply that while Huff certainly had his own opinions and predilections (as we all do), he never allowed his own P.O.V. to affect unduly the choice of topics discussed on The Poker Beat. And while his opinions on those topics were always his own (and thus, by definition, subjective), I never sensed they were shaped by sponsors or other external entities.
The same can be said for the panelists on the show, too, most of whom in fact also reported for other outlets that do depend on online poker sites and other sponsors that at times can affect coverage. However, on The Poker Beat it seemed (to me, at least) everyone spoke without constraint, with their opinions genuinely representing their own thoughts on the topics being considered.
Thus will the end of The Poker Beat leave a bit of a void in the world of so-called “poker media,” although there are other places where one can still find relatively unblinkered commentary and reporting on the poker world. The Two Plus Two Pokercast springs to mind (sponsored by PokerStars but nonetheless autonomous), as do some other sites and especially certain independently-produced blogs.
So thanks to Huff and all the others for two-plus years’ worth of The Poker Beat. And here’s hoping Huff returns -- as he intimated on that last episode he might -- with some other contribution to poker reporting in the not-too-distant future.