Who would watch a poker show with no hole cards? Me and every poker player I know.

Totally loved the WSOP first-ever slight delay stream of the entire Main Event. I don’t think I’ll ever want to see a game with hole cards again. What fun to test my skill of reading the bet amount and other tells to put a player on a hand, then see at showdown how good I am.  I do think, however, that the WSOP missed a few opportunities that, as a marketing exec, I can’t help but point out.

Basic marketing 101: Know your audience.  I  don’t think anyone who isn’t familiar with poker is going to choose a 6 hour multi-part extravaganza shown without hole cards for entertainment.  (Remember, showing what the players had is what gave televised poker its start.) Yet the show seemed to be geared to the total novice.  We who would watch this event know what blinds are, we know what a three bet is, we even know what a C-bet is.  And  I’d much rather hear what’s going on at the table then hearing about what Johnny Chan did 10 years ago, or how many bracelets Hellmuth has.  I think McEachern was just too afraid of dead air and of boring us watching players do nothing, which really was the good part…seeing  the flow of the game.” Nothing happened, then I lost” is something Jimmy Fricke tweeted, and that’s what’s fun to see. I think Lon and Norman together with Kara are the best poker announcers/interviewer going, and I’m only suggesting that for this type of an event, maybe a little less announcing and more table coverage is okay. We’re poker players. We don’t get bored watching people think.

I was so frustrated wanting to hear the table banter, only to have Lon and Antonio gushing about this being the life-changing WSOP Main Event. We get it.  Once, when it was down to 10 players and the game was in “raise, everyone fold” mode, the raiser said, “Ill show”, and the coverage didn’t even catch the hand being shown being too busy reminding us that this was the Main Event. The exception to this non-stop commentating was when Olivier Busquet was on.  He would even say , “let’s watch the hand, then we’ll talk”. He knew why we were watching. Even he was interested. And his comments were a strategy course geared to the audience. He gave me a lot to think about.

Not that the WSOP is one of my 5 readers, but if they were, some advice:  Twitter presents a terrific opportunity to do free and immediately what companies pay upwards of 20K to do and it takes weeks:  ask people to let you know what they think? Who was their favorite commentator team? What was their favorite part of the show.   Get feedback. The WSOP could get immediate results and adjust accordingly, even mid-way through the series if they wanted to, but definitely for next year.  If you do this WSOP execs, just send me a free entry for next year: jann@brandbooster.com

A great first presentation and I look forward to an even better show next year.

Pros and poseurs on the WSOP.

Watching the recent televised WSOP event with Phil Hellmuth was enough to make me question playing poker at all. And Beth Shak didn’t help. She’s living proof that anyone can make a final table. It seems that the true ambassadors of poker these days are the really young players who show skill and polish way beyond their years.

Hellmuth :

His constantly running to Phil Ivey to make side bets that totaled over $80,000 focused on a scary part of the insatiable need gamblers have for action….and to lose. He and Ivey are like poster boys for Gamblers Anonymous.

Really, are Dan Shak and Phil Ivey so close. How much did that cost? (Or Johnny Chan and Jamie Gold for that matter.) This is a new form of hookerdom. Buy a pro for the night.

Hellmuth is a boring guy. Why in the world do producers continue to give him air time?. Most viewers come to watch poker, and when he’s on that’s hard to do. What am I missing here? We know…he’s won bracelets, but there are many better players that make for better viewing and certainly showcase a more interesting part of the game. Producers: Give us a break. Don’t insult our intelligence. We like poker, not listening to people we wouldn’t even have lunch with.

Beth Shak :

Did she ever actually think about a hand..you know, analyze it. Like, what might my opponent have?. Watching her said, poker’s basically a mindless game. Hey, I can do that. I’ll get a hat.

Did she have a clue about how to bet? She couldn’t seem to figure that out. Instead she had the basic move recommended for all amateurs when they don’t know what to do i.e. “I’m all in” with the threatening hand wave. Lot’s of posing, but not much playing. She even bought some friends to bring and paid top dollar for the right to high five them I’m sure.

Why wasn’t she penalized for acting like a 12 year old and yelling “I’ve got them” to her husband while another player was in the hand trying to decide whether or not to call? She was embarrassing to watch and set a bad example for how to behave, but she got away with it.

The good examples at the table were the young guys who outplayed the bracelet winner and tolerated the wannabe. At least Norman and Lon were informative and entertaining as usual.