Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Watching 2011 WSOP Main Event on ESPN

Shamus watches the WSOPDialed up ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP again yesterday. Last night saw the first of many weeks’ worth of Main Event coverage to lead us up to November, beginning this year with Day 3 rather than bothering with showing anything other than brief shots from the four Day 1s and two Day 2s.

I personally would like to have seen at least some coverage of the first two days, if only to give the sense of a more comprehensive chronicle of the tournament as a whole. Of course, I realize that some folks didn’t care for the many minor subplots and characters often highlighted during the hours devoted to Days 1 and 2. In fact, looking back I see I myself wrote last August that “these Day 1 flights are okay, but not terribly riveting.” (Last year there was an hour each given to the four Day 1s, then two hours each to Day 2a and 2b.) So while I didn’t necessarily want to see Days 1 and 2 passed over entirely, I can understand the decision to do so.

My understanding is there will be four hours (two weeks) devoted to each of Days 3-8 going forward. As I say, they did include a few brief glimpses from the earlier days, including that routine with Phil Hellmuth walking in with a microphone on Day 1c. I happened to have been situated there at the secondary feature table that day, and so wrote up a little something about all of the takes it took to get that bit right.

Again, as I’ve noted before, I didn’t get a chance to see the live coverage back in July, which I’m sure is probably affecting both how some are watching the edited stuff as well as some of the decisions the producers are making regarding what they are choosing to show now.

Speaking of, for those of you who watched -- did it seem like a lot of players got pocket aces last night? Felt like at least a third of the hands shown, perhaps more, involved players with A-A. Would be curious to see just how many were.

Shaun Deeb and Max HeinzelmannOf course, a few of those hands with pocket aces provided some real drama, the most obviously coming in that crazy Max Heinzelmann-Shaun Deeb hand that came up near the end of what was shown last night. During the WSOP I was submitting some “WSOP Hand of the Day” reports over on Betfair poker, and that one -- in which Heinzelmann six-bet shoved A-6 into Deeb’s A-A -- was the easy choice for my Day 3 HOTD.

There were other semi-interesting moments, as far as the poker went. I enjoyed the hand early on in which Jean-Robert Bellande got river-bluffed by Sarah Bilney (if I remember her name correctly). Before that came that Brad Garrett double-up -- in which we caught a glimpse of our buddy Kevmath standing nearby -- was interesting as well, given how Garrett so cruelly slowrolled his opponent.

Overall, though, the whole show felt a little chaotic, even with the focus primarily being upon the two feature tables. I mentioned something along these lines last week, but there’s a difference with the overall look of the show this year that is kind of making it difficult for me to engage as thoroughly. I think it has to do not only with how it is being edited and packaged, but the shots and even the quality of the video recording.

Many shots, even at the feature tables, seem to have players in the foreground obstructing our view of those involved in the hands. And I think there’s something different about the way the shows are being recorded -- frame rate? -- that is lending them a look that more resembles what I can only describe as what you’d get with a camcorder as opposed to the “film”-like look we’ve seen in the past. (Perhaps someone with knowledge regarding commonly-employed options for video these days could describe the difference more clearly and accurately than I can.)

Again, as I said last week, I realize ESPN employed a different production team this time around and I don’t really want to be too critical. I’ve tended to enjoy pretty much all aspects of ESPN’s WSOP coverage in the past, and so realize that I’m probably going to need time to get used to any differences, both in the way the show looks and how it is put together.

Strangely enough, these edited shows really seem more like a live show than did past coverage. Which may well be intended, I don’t know. Those of you who are watching, what are your thoughts?

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Blogger Drizztdj said...

I do agree it seemed "jagged" if that's the right word for it.

In parts it seemed like the camera/focus hopped around too much like "notable chip counts" popped up randomly. If you're going to show that, maybe a shot of the players in that box so the audience puts a face with the player?

8/17/2011 5:24 PM  

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