Friday, July 05, 2013

2013 WSOP, Day 37: Look Away

Kind of up against it once again as I have little time to scribble here, being mostly preoccupied with getting back over to the Rio to help cover the third and final day of Event No. 59, the $2,500 2-7 Triple Draw event. Just 10 players are left, including six bracelet holders -- David “ODB” Baker, David Chiu, Scott Seiver, Michael Mizrachi, Daniel Negreanu, and Eli Elezra -- so it should make for an interesting final day with lots of different storylines in play.

If I had more time, I’d write a longer post addressing a particular challenge faced by tourney reporters, something that this particular event has reminded me of repeatedly. I’m referring to the importance of not looking at players’ hands while reporting, something that can be especially tricky at times when doing an event like the 2-7 Triple Draw.

I remember when I began reporting on tourneys and found myself standing by a table for the first time with a notepad and pen in hand. I was startled, I think, at how often players failed to conceal their hole cards, even in hold’em where there are just the two cards to keep hidden from view.

Most of us have experienced this phenomenon as players, probably, where we occasionally find ourselves sitting next to those who aren’t so careful about covering their cards. But the reporter standing nearby a table has what is often an even better angle for viewing such, especially in a game like Triple Draw in which players have five cards to consider, and in which they keep drawing more which requires them to consult their hands over and again.

Early on I trained myself to anticipate players’ squeezing of their cards and to look away, often turning to the side and/or peering upwards to study the ceiling. I obviously don’t need to know what anyone is holding when reporting a hand, nor would I want any player ever to think twice about those circling the tables as they play.

I’m remembering a moment during the 10-game event that I helped cover last week when I was standing near a table counting stacks after a hand had completed. I can’t remember which game was being dealt -- it might have been 2-7 triple draw, actually -- but I had lingered just a moment longer than usual to get a look at one player’s chips when he took a quick peek over his shoulder after noticing me in his peripheral vision.

At that, another player sitting across the table offered a wide grin and said “You better look out... that’s my guy!” The table laughed as he was obviously kidding. I smiled, too, but I also immediately walked away from the table, not wanting even to joke about such a thing.

Triple draw is an interesting game, though, in which players sometimes aren’t shy about even letting opponents know what they are holding as hands proceed. Hands are frequently held aloft as players inspect them and consider their options, meaning it requires an extra effort for those of us reporting not to look at the cards while still keeping an eye on the table in order to keep track of the betting and draws.

Like I say, if I had more time I might discuss this whole issue in greater depth, but I’ve got to go get ready. Gotta prepare a little more before I go watch more hands of poker being played. And not watch them, too.

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