Anyone who has attended a WPT final table that was scheduled to be televised probably will be familiar with everything I’m sharing here. That is to say, it isn’t as though anything I noticed as someone there reporting on the event is that different from what anyone else in attendance gets to see, too.
In fact, for poker fans who happen to be where a WPT televised final table is taking place, I recommend checking it out. The entire day I was thinking of a good friend of mine who loves to watch poker on TV -- still (!) -- and who is always asking me about players he sees. I realized how much of a kick he’d get out of seeing one of these shows being created.
I knew before that Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten were present at these final tables, but I hadn’t necessarily realized how they actually are commentating quite a bit as the hands go by. I know they’ll go back and do more in post-production, but I hadn’t necessarily appreciated from watching the WPT on television that some or even most of what we hear from those two comes during the actual playing of the final table.
Meanwhile, Lynn Gilmartin is now doing the anchoring for the WPT shows, and she, too, was shooting a lot of her segments as the final table was being played.
I’ve known Lynn for a while now thanks to her long association with PokerNews and PokerStars, and so am well familiar with how great she is in front of the camera. In fact, I’ve joined her a few times for brief vids from the LAPT -- here’s one from last year -- on which the contrast between our relative levels of ease only further underscores her skills.
Watching both reminded me of sitting in the press box at the WSOP while Kara Scott would shoot segments and marveling at how cool they all are, often able to move through the segments in one take and sound great doing it.
As someone who has spent a lot of time standing in front of classrooms full of students, I’m not necessarily shy about talking to groups. But the challenges faced and conquered by these folks whose jobs put them in front of the camera still impresses me, and I can’t imagine how much work it would take to get to the point they seem to be.
The play moved rather quickly without a lot of delays for setting up for certain shots or for other production-related reasons. I suppose that defied my expectations a little, too, after having worked a lot of events on other tours where there would be frequent stoppages of play related to the broadcasts being shot or streamed. By contrast, they kept things moving pretty quickly throughout yesterday, no doubt in part because of a desire not to keep the extensive crew working longer than necessary.
All of it kind of took me back to the days of being a big “poker fan” -- i.e., a decade ago when I was right there with everyone else discovering the WPT on television for the first time and becoming instantly fascinated with the show, the game, and the people who were part of it.
I know the WPT doesn’t quite occupy the central place in poker’s subculture today as it did back then. But it is still an important part of the overall scene and I think still brings a lot that’s good for the game as a whole when it comes to promoting the game to a wider audience. And they continue to put on a good show that ultimately seems more than anything to underscore that sense that poker really can be a fun time.