Last night during a break I did happen to wander over to the Pavilion to watch a little of Event No. 57 final table, the $10,000 short-handed NLHE event that had that super-rowdy British rail supporting Christopher Brammer until he was bounced in fifth place.
I saw the crowd gathered on the Pavilion stage, the biggest I’ve seen since I’ve been here. And yes they were loud, which added to the excitement of that final table, although might’ve been a bit distracting to some of the players, not to mention those playing elsewhere at the many other tables in the cavernous Pavilion.
The booze was flowing, the (sometimes hilariously profane) chants were plentiful, and the overall mood suggested the crowd was watching a wrestling match, not a few dudes playing cards.
Got home early enough last night to tune in a little to the live stream as well -- before Brammer busted -- and hear the commentary there. I also followed some of the talk on Twitter about crowds and cheering at final tables in poker, with some speaking in favor of it while others objected.
Poker is a game that interestingly mixes intellect and emotion. It certainly requires concentration, something much easier to achieve in a quiet setting. But it also produces lots of emotion, too, both for players and those watching (especially if they have a rooting interest).
I probably lean toward thinking the players making it to the end of an event deserve some space to think and perform their best. That said, I always prefer covering final tables when there are supporters present who are lending some extra added excitement to the proceedings, justly marking the occasion as significant.
“Cheering is allowed and encouraged” is a line often said by the tourney director “Red Bull” Robbie Thompson, usually when a final table crowd has become overly sedate. (He also always adds that heckling is out of bounds.)
Cheering should most certainly be encouraged, I think, although there’s probably a line in there somewhere beyond which the rail shouldn’t cross. What do you think?