The Prima Poker Tour 2005
Report by Barny
on Tuesday, 1 November 2005 at 4:44 pm
Over the past year I have got off to a lot of great starts in big events. In the EPT in Monte Carlo I was chip leader going into day two, in San Diego I lead the field for most of day one, and so on. I can't complain that I haven't had my chances.
Often when you start well and the wheel comes off, there is one big hand that you remember as the turning point. In Monte Carlo it was an unlucky river against Martin Wendt, in San Diego, the kings got there against my Aces. Normal stuff that happens to everyone. But in Dublin this week, it was a little bit different. The turning point came in a pot that I won.
It was early in the tournament and we still had around three quarters of the field, but I had got off to a flyer and with over 40K was probably chip leader. It seemed that all the big stacks were on my table with me. Perfect.
I was on the button in a re-raised pot holding AQ clubs and the flop came three rag clubs. The re-raiser led out rapidly for five thousand, a pot sized bet. I was obviously hoping he had a big hand, possibly kings. It's normal to slow-play in this situation but I felt that if I moved in instantly his momentum would carry him forward, and, perhaps reading me for the bare Ace he might call quickly. I shoved my stack across the line and he sat forward. I can't be sure but I, and others watching, felt I was about to get called. We'll never know because as that moment one of the TV crew who was watching and obviously believed he was about to shove his chips in, said ' Stop! Don't do anything yet. We'll get the camera.' The player froze and waited.
A minute or two later, with the camera in his face and the adrenaline replaced by the cold dread of defeat, he sat back and calmly tried to put me on a hand. A call would cost him his remaining twenty grand. 'I don't think you'd do that with the Ace of clubs'. He said. 'You could have trips.'
After a long time, he mucked his overpair and the disappointed film crew shuffled off to get yet more footage that will never be aired.
He went on to win a couple of small pots off me and I never won another significant coup. An hour or two later I re-raised the chip leader all-in pre-flop with kings and after a lot of thought he called me with A,10. I knew what was coming and I got my coat.
I'm pretty sure the player I had the flush against was David Pomroy who ended the day as chip leader and went on to finish third. I certainly have no complaints about him; he played well and deserved his success. And I of all people would be a hypocritical to complain about the presence of cameras at poker tournaments; I benefit directly, both as a sponsored player and as a commentator, and since even before Late Night Poker I have advocated the idea of poker as a televised sport.
Most players however, get no direct benefit from the TV cameras and the film crews must learn to understand that in allowing them to film us the very least we can expect in return is that they do nothing to alter, influence or interfere with the game.
No-one understands this better than John Duthie who was mortified when I told him my story. I have no doubt that he is doing everything possible to prevent such problems, and to be fair I know of no other such incident on the European Poker Tour. But at other events, without an experienced player like John at the helm, what chance do we have? We've all heard the stories from this year's WSOP. Players being shoved out of their seats by cameramen, players being told about opponents hands, and so on. And this in an event where nothing was added and a great deal was taken away.
I don't personally know which of the stories were true, I get on on well with the ESPN crew and I'm sure that these things would have been down to ignorance or pressure of work rather than any callous disregard for the players. I do know this though: Every player is required to sign a contract agreeing to their image being used in any way the TV company see fit and undertaking to indemnify the company against any loss caused by the player breaching certain clauses in the contract. If you don't sign it you can't play.
Perhaps it is time we asked that something be added to those contracts setting out the responsibilities of the organisors, sponsors, and production companies as well. We are entitled to expect for example a totally random draw, an agreed maximum number of players per table, no revealing of privileged information -such as hole cards- , limitations on the alteration of advertised structures and of course, no obstruction of or interference with the players by the film crew that might effect the course of the game. What would happen if a cameraman ran onto the pitch during a football match? Presumably if a team were adversely effected they would have some redress.
Years ago I was talking to Barry Hearn and he told me that he was thinking of filming the final of the Poker Million in the Isle of Mann, including hole cards, and broadcasting it live. I offered the opinion that players should be told of this before the event began as some might not want to enter if they knew their hole cards would be shown in the final. 'Barny' he said. 'This is television. If I ask them to roller skate naked across the poker table, they'll do it!'
In the event, players were told in advance and Barry Hearne proved to be ahead of his time. Players do not now bat an eyelid at the idea of their cards being shown. We do have to make some adjustments for TV, but there are limits.
Of course, if the TV company or the sponsors are putting up the prize money, it's a different story. I'm off to Ceasers this week for the $2,000,000 Tournament of Champions, and I'm bringing my roller skates. Just in case.