As anyone who has taken a peek at the webcast knows, there have been some technical difficulties with the presentation. The audio has been about 15-20 minutes ahead of the video and the onscreen graphics describing the hands are not always matching up, either. I am sure they will get these issues resolved eventually, but for now these difficulties are making it hard to stick with the show for very long.
The various elements of the webcast falling out of sync got me thinking momentarily about each of those elements individually, perhaps more so than I would have otherwise. I was thinking about the importance of seeing the hole cards and how that affects one’s enjoyment when watching others play poker. I also was considering separately the value of commentary, hearing table talk, and other aspects of the show.
Meanwhile I had the PGA Championship playing on the television, too, which I also was following only in a vague way, looking up now and then to see a shot and learn how certain players were doing thus far today in the tournament’s second round. Obviously the production and presentation of that broadcast was much better handled for the TNT network, although like I say I was only really following it intermittently and without any serious concentration.
I guess you could call my viewing of both events “passive” insofar as I was watching without any serious rooting interest or even curiosity about results. The coincidence of having both on at once reminded me a little of a post I wrote a little over a year ago about how golf somehow attracts my interest as a spectator even though I don’t play the game.
That post was written while watching the Masters that spring and was titled “A Tradition That’s Totally Way, Way Different From All the Other Ones.” I contrasted golf’s success at attracting non-golfers to watch with the special challenge poker faces when it comes to getting non-poker players to find a reason to be interested in watching others play.
In the end I concluded the two weren’t really so comparable -- not just “apples and oranges,” but “apples and orangutans” -- the main difference being, I decided, that when it comes to poker nearly everyone who finds the game interesting to watch plays the game in some fashion, whereas such is not the case for golf.
Without online poker for the last two-plus years, I now most often speak of myself as someone who “used to play” poker. Sure, I played this summer in Vegas and will play again in the future when given the opportunity, but for the most part I’m not identifying myself as an active player these days. And I’m starting to recognize that because of that my interest in watching others play via a webcast or on television has been severely limited.
It’s much different watching poker as a reporter, where I’m locked into what’s happening in a much more direct way. As a non-playing spectator -- or a non-active player who is watching -- I feel kind of “out of sync” with the game in a way that significantly affects my interest level. Perhaps it has something to do with not really identifying with or feeling invested in the players’ decisions or the outcomes, because I don’t really see myself playing hands and facing similar decisions myself anytime soon.