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Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins

Keith The Camel Hawkins

Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins Older Articles

Enough is Enough

By Keith 'The Camel' Hawkins / June 2005

Now my blood is really boiling. I have just finished Matt Matros's book "The Making of a Poker Player" which I spoke about last month. (I know, I know! I am a very slow reader. But Matros hasn't got any pictures in his book to make it easy reading).

The postscript details the authors run to the final table of the $25,000 WPT championship at the Bellagio in 2004. It is well worth the read. But, one paragraph really stood out:

"After sixty-eight hands of high pressure final table poker, the producers of the WPT came out to the table and told the three remaining players that we needed to be more talkative. It made for better TV. There was a $2 million difference between third place and first place, and now I had to worry about how much I was talking? It was one distraction too many. I am not making excuses-but I was annoyed. I should have been more focused. But this directive from the producers made something in my brain snap."

You what?

I can tell you I would be far more than simply annoyed. These three guys are playing for millions of dollars and the TV people are telling them to laugh and joke like they are playing £5 beginners comp at Luton. If I was playing against Martin de Knijff I would probably put on a mask and not murmur a word in the hopes of not revealing a tell to such a brilliant player. As for talking more, well, I would like to think I'd tell them where to stick their table chatter.

This is only the latest of a growing number of examples of how TV is interfering with poker.

Three instances immediately spring to mind:

  1. At the heads up Championship in Barcelona last year there were supposed to be only 2 blind levels in each round. Because the semi finals took so long and the camera crew wanted to go home they tried to raise the blinds for a third time in the Mortenson/Puras match in order to bring it to a swift conclusion.
  2. A player (who shall remain nameless) was very ill the night before his WPT final. He had a very high temperature and was vomiting regularly. He needed as long as possible in bed to recuperate to try and perform his best. Not only did the TV people force him to arrive two hours before the final began for interviews and make up but when filming began they refused to let him leave him the set and he suffered greatly under the heat and lights and played way below his best.
  3. There is a rumour that a canny player can take advantage of the cameras. He waits to look at his cards until all the other players have shown there's to the under table camera. By noticing which player the cameras are focussing on he deduces who has the best hand. Clever, but clearly wrong.

I am not denying TV has been good for poker. It has. But, poker must have been better for television. Why else would TV companies be rushing to show more and more poker tournaments?

Poker players provide the prize money, the action and the entertainment. If TV is adding nothing to the prize pool they should not be allowed to interfere with the integrity (or flow) of the game.

Indeed, I am beginning to believe that poker players should start boycott TV events which don't add money or allow sponsors logos. Until the TV moguls realise they have to give something back they will continue to abuse us in the way they are doing now.

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