Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not Watching Poker

Have to admit I’ve more or less drifted away from following the 2014 World Series of Poker coverage on ESPN this month. Going up against Sunday Night Football has lost them one viewer in this household, and while I DVR’d the sucker the first couple of weeks I haven’t been moved even to do that lately.

Not picking up things until Day 4 made for some added awkwardness narrative-wise when it came to telling the story of what happened this summer. There were some okay moments and an interesting hand or two involving Phil Ivey during those first two hours, but as I’ve said here before about these edited shows, knowing outcomes (e.g., Ivey’s pre-deep run bustout) considerably lessens what is already small amount of suspense in evidence.

I thought about this method of showing a poker tournament months after it actually occurs when reading this funny article from The Onion earlier today -- “LeBron James Relieved to Finish Filming NBA Season.”

The inordinate focus on amateur player Curtis Rystadt and his relentless antics on Day 5 were a big turnoff for me as well (literally). Exhibiting all sorts of poor etiquette and cringe-worthy behavior -- none of it terribly representative of how the great majority of players act at the WSOP -- Rystadt was made the center of attention during that week’s shows.

However, it almost felt exploitative for ESPN to devote so much attention to a relative unknown who like an unwitting reality show participant probably wasn’t fully aware how he’d be received. (Here’s a quick example of Rystadt’s performance, if you happened not to have been watching.)

So I’m not really watching, and in fact this year I may well miss out on the final table, too, as it looks like I’m scheduled for a tourney trip during those days. Speaking of the November Nine, Chris Tessaro has a new column for All In punningly titled “Waited Down” in which he’s revisiting the delayed final table idea -- now in its seventh year, if you can believe it -- and wondering if the WSOP and ESPN might consider altering its approach going forward.

There’s much I still like about the shows -- including Norman Chad, Lon McEachern, and Kara Scott -- but like Chris I’m finding the current approach to the coverage to be far removed from the immediacy and excitement of what tournament poker actually can be. And with NBA starting up and that other World Series going the distance, it’s making it even harder for this sports fan to tune in to watch the card playing.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

ESPN likes stuff like the Rystadt antics, so I wonder how much they encourage it. He's likely a nice guy, but obviously looked like a DB on TV.

10/29/2014 11:32 AM  

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