Well, this is a little late. I’ve been meaning to make some comments about the recent WSOP Final Table, and ESPN’s coverage of it. Things have been kind of hectic, and I just didn’t get to it in a timely manner. Even though most everything that can be written about it has been written, I’d still like to make a few random, belated observations.
First, I really enjoyed ESPN’s coverage this year, although Norm Chad’s role was somewhat reduced. Since the telecast was so long, he probably had at least as many minutes “airtime” as in the past. However, I would have preferred Norm doing the “play-by-play” with Lon instead of various poker pros, mainly Antonio Esfandiari. Was it me, or was almost every prediction that Antonio made usually the exact opposite of what actually happened? For example, Antonio would say something like “he’s going to fold here”, and then the player in question would raise. Or, “I would raise now”, and then the player would call. This seemed to occur time-and-time again when Esfandiari was commentating.
Of course, ignoring the Canadian accent, who doesn’t enjoy Kara Scott’s interviews? And, I could care less who she’s interviewing.
My guess is that the non-poker players that just happened to watch the WSOP coverage because they were channel surfing, may have gotten a little bored with the “every hand” coverage, as opposed to the edited telecasts in the past that just mostly showed the “big” hands. I’ve talked with several of my poker playing friends, and it seems the consensus is that most of us, with a couple of exceptions, enjoyed the extensive coverage. It was a very useful learning experience to be able to see the player’s hole cards for every hand.
I think the single topic generating the most discussion was Ben Lamb’s all-in with King-Jack offsuit on the first hand of the “Final Three”, after Staszko re-raised him. Antonio said: “It’s unlikely he [Lamb] calls, and plays this pot out of position”. Then Lamb re-raised all-in; another Esfandiari “spot on” prediction. There’s already been A LOT written about it; so, the only thing I can add is “Wow”! I was rooting for Lamb, even though he seemed to have an aloof attitude. I know it’s difficult to get a true read about someone by just watching them on TV, but Lamb just seemed arrogant to me. There is a thread on the Chiptalk.net forums started by a guy that was actually an observer at the final table that somewhat confirms my view; see here: http://www.chiptalk.net/forum/casinos-card-rooms/76735-my-2011-wsop-final-table-thread-updated-pics-vids.html. There’s also a photo of Kara interviewing Pius Hines, and several comments agreeing with my previously stated opinion of her.
Since the “Final Three” went so long, and I had to go to work the next day, I set my DVR to record it, with the plan of watching the finish when I got home from work the next day. However, the most disappointing thing for me about the telecast was the fact that my DVR stopped recording before the event was over. Since it was a “live” telecast, I had the option to add time to the scheduled time for the show, which I did. But the maximum that I could add was three hours, and that wasn’t enough, as my recording ended 29 hands before it was actually over. I had to go to the WSOP website to find out that Pius Hines eventually outlasted Martin Staszko.
Maybe next year, I’ll be there in person.