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Players Criticize World Series of Poker Coverage

Heads-Up Battle the Focus of Complaints

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Peter Eastgate won the main event, but most fans didn't really see how he did it.At 17 hours, it was the longest final table in World Series of Poker history. Thanks to some seamless editing, it was fit neatly into a two-hour time block for ESPN.

Depending on whom you ask, the 2008 main event final table was either a massive failure or a huge success. Or you could ask the outspoken poker pro Mike Matusow, and he’ll tell you it was both.

“If I was a fan, it’d be a big letdown,” Matusow told Card Player TV. “As far as that, I think it was a failure. As far as Harrah’s and ESPN, I think it was a major success.”

There’s no denying that it was a ratings success. The four-month delay of the final table, so that the audience could watch the “near-live” action without knowing who won, attracted 46 percent more viewers than in 2007. But that didn’t prevent the criticism that followed.

When asked about their thoughts regarding the final table, nearly every professional poker player critiqued the coverage in a politically correct way. They made sure to highlight the good before they pointed out the bad.

2000 World Champion Chris “Jesus” Ferguson said he appreciated that ESPN showed so much of the prior action that it took to get to the final table. 2008 WSOP Player of the Year Erick Lindgren said that ESPN “did the best with their situation.” Even Matusow acknowledged the impressive production work that it took to get it on the air, saying it was “nothing short of a miracle.”

But then they pointed out the bad.

Viewers didn't get to see how Ivan Demidov clawed back heads up to retake the lead.“They just never showed any hands,” said Matusow. “They just showed everyone’s bust-out hand.”

Of the 274 hands that were played at the final table, ESPN aired 23 of them. But the heads-up coverage between the eventual champion Peter Eastgate and the runner-up Ivan Demidov was the catalyst for most of the criticism. Over the course of four hours, there were 105 hands played between the final two players. ESPN showed just two hands, in five minutes of air time.
   
“The one glaring omission was that the heads up lasted two hands on television,” said Ferguson. “It really didn’t show the entire battle between these two great players.”

And there was a battle. Eastgate started out with an 80.3 million-50.6 million chip advantage over Demidov, only to watch the Russian claw his way back to take the lead. However, the cool 22-year-old Dane didn’t panic, instead allowing the aggressive Demidov to bluff over his chips in a series of mistakes.

Both Matusow and Ferguson suggest showing more heads-up action in the future.

“It’s a shame the rest of the American public didn’t get to see that,” said Matusow. “It would’ve been so sick to watch.”

 
 
 
 

Comments

RickyB215
over 8 years ago

Agree on the heads-up aspect... ESPN could have milked another 60 minute show (at least) by ending the two-hour final table coverage with two players remaining & then had a heads-up only episode to determine the champion... would have made for great TV & would have give the casual fan more insight into heads-up play - as opposed to the AK v QQ showdowns they're used to seeing.

 
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WongBWMAGIC
over 8 years ago

I agree. The heads-up match was small ball at the finest! So, showing 2 hands is really doing that portion of the coverage a disservice.

My opinion... learn from the WPT... since they show some great heads up matches. Also, be flexible in terms of show hours. 2 hours is perfect for 6 handed play on the WPT (though some great tourneys probably deserves more... like the one Jonathan Little just won). If I were the producers, I would plan for 3 hours and be flexible for 4 hours. After all, people generally play tighter on a full table and looser as players getting eliminated.

 
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ZionKid
over 8 years ago

WOW is CP so far behind or what... We discussed this the night the article on the ratings was posted in the comments section below the article... Two weeks later CP writes an article on it... How sad... get with it editorial staff... this is ridiculous... See original comments here...

http:// www.cardplayer.com/poker-news/article/5499/ratings-rebound-for-2008-world-series-of-poker

(remove space between :// & www.)

 
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PokerJoeK
over 8 years ago

Showing ONLY 2 hands of heads-up play was a DISGRACE!!!

I will not waste my time next year!!!

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 8 years ago

ESPN still has the film and they're still on the air. I hate to repeat myself, but why don't they make a 'Final Table with Eastgate and Demidov' episode that includes ebb, flow, and commentary? We get that their English isn't perfect, but it's more understandable than most. We want our heads up coverage!

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 8 years ago

I'm talking about Lon's and Norm's English btw.

 
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ZionKid
over 8 years ago

POSTED BY: SevenKidsPoppy
POSTED ON: Nov 29, 2008
I'm talking about Lon's and Norm's English btw.

BUMP

+1 to that

 
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miketherake
over 8 years ago

ESPN wake up...you have the option to edit additional footage the fans are willing to pay.....please send me 5% commision for this advice....give them more shows....

 
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drTJ23
over 8 years ago

why the hell not release additional episodes? It's not over for F sake! Just take the footage that's sitting around doing nothing and edit it into extensive episodes of the final table and especially the heads up battle. Make the heads up battle into four episodes alone. It seems so obvious. Great ratings, additional content for ESPN and their sponsors + you give poker fans what they want. Hopefully ESPN will figure out this simplest of simple ideas and create more episodes. They would have anyways except they couldn't get around the "live" nature of the event and had only 36 hours to edit the footage and allotted only 2 hours of air time. Let's go. Get going ESPN. Thanks.

 
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kroebuck67
over 8 years ago

I really wish the word "sick" would be dropped from poker players' vocabularies. I am sick of "sick".

 
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top2pear
over 8 years ago

Coverage was a jopke.

2 hands HU? WTF

 
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danrochin
over 8 years ago

What about an interview with the champ? No congrats or nothing. Wow

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 8 years ago

To grow a business or an industry, you have to take care of your loyal customers and win new customers. Top established pros, the casinos, the networks, and the sponsors are the captains of the poker industry. Who was this coverage for? The "loyal customers" who were following the action in person or online through the blogs, word-of-mouth, the live updates and WSOP audio feed already knew that Eastgate won. Having to wait a third of a year for the resolution of the final table was an irritant; there was nothing cool about it. By Tuesday night, we knew who won, and it didn't matter to us if we had to wait 17 hours or 17 days, really, to see what we already knew. The build-up was OK but the final delivery stunk, and it is such a copout to qualify any analysis by saying, "Given the short turnaround, ESPN did a great job." ESPN did a disappointing job. Their coverage is actually getting worse btw, not better. The picture might be in High Definition, but the thoughtfulness behind the production was decidedly No Definition because on the air we who were paying attention to the action saw FAR LESS than we already knew. The newbies who are impressed by drama and packaging had to have been disappointed as well by what even they would have recognized as noncoverage of heads-up. So, you got more viewers than last year. Guess what? You also got a lot more pissed off viewers than last year, too, more than ever before, and that is not going to grow the industry. What the knuckleheads did this year will sink next year's coverage, wait and see.

 
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SevenKidsPoppy
over 8 years ago

P.S. ESPN's, Harrah's, and Negreanu's experiment stirred up such interest in poker that for the first time the Borgata found itself $50K short of the guaranteed money for its September WPT event and got itself decommissioned from the WPT for the Borgata Winter Open, a.k.a. the Borgata Poker Classic. More players plus more viewers is a winning combination. If you don't have that, then you're just fooling yourselves. The answer is, first, to get Pres.-Elect Obama on board with respect to online poker. Then, all sites should feed more people into all major ($5K-&-above) events. This will generate more excitement and interest, too, because the more players you have, the more interested the relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers of players will become.

 
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benvegas
over 8 years ago

cardplayer is famous for news a month old. The only useful thing here is the tournament scheduler, and even then, it blows fucking goats.

 
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Baywolfe
over 8 years ago

It barely felt like a tournament final table at all. It barely felt like poker at all. When you think of how many hands you see in two hours of the World Poker Tour final table, this was a joke.

If they're going to insist on all the fancy production pieces and the asides from Lon and Norm, they need to make this a minimum of four hours.

 
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dz
over 8 years ago

Time, Money, players image, all part of a editited program. One that ESPN should be proud of. The work and dedication of its team to put together a TV show to excite the viewers.

Maybe next year we'll see a women win the title, until then my compliments.

 
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kikinjon
over 8 years ago

When I read the original press release about the "November" airing of the final table I could have sworn 9 players down to 2 would be the first night and the final table the second night. Even as I sat to watch the "first" night I was curious why my DVR did not record the second night of heads up.

I was fortunate enough to run the "flop cam" at the 2007 Borgata WPT event and got to see EVERY hand of the final table. I would be willing to bet good money the poker viewing public would not have been bored watching an extended heads up battle. ESPN would have had additional advertising revenues in addition to what they received to date. I for one enjoy watching good poker and as was stated in the article above it looks like we missed one hell of a heads up battle. The coverage made it look like Demidov was completely run over when in fact he made a nice run.

Oh well...

 
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bebop
over 8 years ago

ESPN's coverage of the WSOP has sucked from day one of year one. Not enough hands shown, meaningless bios of players we don't care about and two hopeless, clueless announcers. I am so sick of Norman Chad's Rodney Dangerfield wannabe schtick. Hire a pro to do expert commentary. Overall WSOP coverage is consistently the worst of any event shown on ESPN, world's Strongman included.

 
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PokerJoeK
over 8 years ago

$819 Billion Dollars for 4 million jobs is $204,750.00 per job, that is CRAZY! Even if the $819 Billion does(?) create 4 million jobs and even save 4 million more, that's still $102,375.00 per job and it's STILL CRAZY!!! The $819 will be close to $1.3 TRILLION after interest, so that's $162,500.00 per job for 8 million. PLEASE TELL ME WHERE I CAN GET ONE OF THESE $162,500.00 JOBS!!! --- The ONLY "Change" we got is a few of the people wasting the taxpayers money in Washington DC changed, NOTHING MORE!!!

 
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