Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Love Poker? Me, Too

ESPN's The Poker EdgeRight near the end of my sojourn at the World Series of Poker this summer, I got the chance to meet Andrew Feldman, host of ESPN’s The Poker Edge podcast and the editor, columnist, producer, and tourney director for the ESPN Poker Club.

Basically Feldman manages everything that we see and hear over on the poker section of the ESPN page, where he does a terrific job providing all sorts of interesting content. A nice guy and definitely one of those folks who is doing a lot for those of us who love playing and following poker.

Feldman produced podcasts every day throughout the two weeks of the Main Event. I’m still catching up on these -- I was a bit too busy during the Series to listen every day -- but I think I can safely go ahead and recommend them all to you if you haven’t heard ’em. In particular, let me recommend the very last one (dated 7/16/09), recorded during the couple of hours following the conclusion of play last Wednesday night.

That 7/16 show includes some smart commentary from Feldman and Lance Bradley (of Bluff Magazine) regarding some of the play from the final day/night, as well as some interesting speculation about what might happen in November. Fun stuff, and for me kind of reawakens the adrenaline and excitement of being there that last night.

The episode includes a number of short interviews with several of the players who made it to the November Nine, namely Phil Ivey, Kevin Schaffel, Steve Begleiter, Joseph Cada, and Eric Buchman. Additionally, Feldman talks to Mike Matusow about the play during the last days of the Main Event, Ivey’s ability to survive a tough Day 8, and Matusow’s friend Jeff Shulman. There’s also a brief conversation with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack about various topics, including Shulman’s announcement that if he were to win the Main Event bracelet he plans to “throw it in the garbage.” (Will probably write something about that tomorrow, I think.)

The interview with Ivey is especially intriguing, with lots of good questions and Ivey being particularly open and even quite funny with his responses. He talks about how he survived that last day, a little about the other players, and speculates that having to wait four months to play the sucker out is -- all things considered -- a disadvantage to him.

He’s also asked about how he was running back over to the Bellagio to play in the “Big Game” every night after the Main Event had ended for the day -- indeed, he’d be back over there on Wednesday, too -- and his response was both succinct and highly revealing.

“I love to play poker, you know?” said Ivey. “I got into a profession that I love to do. So after the night’s over I just rush over to Bobby’s Room and play some more.”

You can hear a voice saying “that’s really cool” amid the noise as the next question is being asked. It is cool. I mean, we’re all certainly excited about the fact that one of the best players in the world has made it to the final table of the Main Event. But Ivey isn’t just a great player -- he also loves the game. And while most of us probably have a hard time “identifying” with Ivey as a player or gambler or perhaps in other ways, we can certainly all identify with that love for poker.

Interestingly enough, a couple of the other players interviewed (Schaffel, Cada) actually talk about how they plan to play either very little or not at all as they wait for November to come. That’s understandable, too, given how exhausting and mentally taxing the previous two weeks had been for them.

In any case, check out the episode and live (or relive) some of the excitement from that frenzied finish. And start getting hyped for November, too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confusing: there's another Andrew Feldman, British guy, in poker. And a google search turned up what I think is a third poker player with that name!

7/22/2009 10:56 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Yep, two different guys -- neither of whom should be further confused with Peter Feldman ("Nordberg"), whom I believe is the most accomplished of the Feldmans in terms of poker tourney winnings, at present, anyway.

7/22/2009 11:15 AM  

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