Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Game Show Rant, WWdN, and Andy Bloch

The WPT's replacement of Courtney Friel for Sabina Gadecki has me wondering why. Not why one or the other. But why either. Why must we continue with this game show paradigm rather than the sports paradigm? Why do we continue with Vanna White instead of a knowledgeable sideline interviewer?

In football you have your play-by-play and color commentators. You also have an aspiring sports reporter covering the sidelines. The "sideliners" are knowledgeable about the game and are obviously working the fluff beat to sharpen their chops and resume until they can break into one of the top spots...not trying to parlay it into a Playboy spread.

If we want to have poker treated like a major sport, we have to cover it like a major sport - instead of covering like the Wheel of Fortune with cards.

I actually thought Shana Hiatt did as good a job as one could do with the game show model. She bonded with the players and came to understand the tournament environment - that connection came across in her interviews. But in this game show paradigm, I think Shana will stand out as an anomaly and not the norm. I wish Sabina the best and hope she comes to love and respect this game as much as we do. But the real problem is not with the spokesmodel, it's with the model itself. That concludes today's rant.

Taking up Hoyaza's suggestion, I played the WWdN (Wil Wheaton dot Net) tourney on PokerStars last night. I didn't bubble. I finished one off the bubble (ha!). But it was good advice none the less. I got to bond with some of my favorite bloggers - some who I have bonded with over drinks in person and some that I have only come to know from their blogs. Players either at my table or lurking the table were Maudie, Gracie, Mookie, Derek, Pauly, G-Rob and Hoyaza. I had a great time and will definitely play more WWdNs in the future. I think this is one more way to meet bloggers - and give them my money.

I've also decided to take my brother's advice and join him for a little low-limit Vegas action next week. I've been to Vegas a lot this year, but really haven't played much. So I think I'll do as my wise brother suggests - get into some cash games and low buy-in tournaments. If the look, feel, and sound of white chips can't dash my malaise, I don't know what will.

Andy Bloch will be joining Lou Krieger and I (er...me) on Hold'em Radio tomorrow night. He's got a new blackjack DVD coming out, so of course we're going to pimp...er...discuss that. As Andy was one of the early participants of rgp and now hangs with his Full Tilt buds, I'm curious about how important he feels exchanging ideas with others is to one's game. For a brutally independent game, this one seems to thrive (like most things) with collaborative knowledge. I'm also looking forward to his discussion of the WPT waiver situation. So I think it will be pretty cool.

P.S. Poland and South Africa have joined the international blog viewers.


Blogger Chad said...

I agree about Shana's ability to convincingly relate to the players. She was good at it. Courtney Friel, not so much.

VVP:"Let's go to Courtney Friel, where she's standing by to interview our sixth place finisher."

Courtney:"So, what's it feel like? You know, to miss out all those millions of dollars like that, and on such a horrendous beat, too. I bet it feels...not good, huh?"

8:44 AM  
Blogger mookie99 said...

Enjoyed playing at your table last night, although it was a brief stay.

You should come join us in The Mookie tournament tonight, alot of the same bloggers and other Austin players.

9:19 AM  
Blogger BJ Nemeth said...

I think the WPT hostess serves an important role, that of the cheerleader. Perhaps this is why Shana was more successful; she came across as someone who was rooting for the players, while Courtney wanted to be a pretty journalist.

I remember the first PPT (Professional Poker Tour) final table that I covered, which was nearly identical to the WPT. (For those who don't know, they are both produced by the same company.) The two commentators were different (Mark Seif and Matt Corboy instead of Vince & Mike), and the set was a little different, but the whole production had a different vibe. And then I realized that there was no hostess to keep things light.

That was back in the Shana days, and before Seif won two bracelets at the 2005 WSOP. But the lack of a hostess could be felt.

My favorite poker TV show right now is High-Stakes Poker, which doesn't have a hostess. (Although there are a few shots of the gorgeous cocktail waitresses.) But that's not a winner-take-all format, and cheerleading would feel a little out of place. They also have Gabe Kaplan, who is the best poker commentator out there -- funny and light, but deeply knowledgeable about the poker.

Moral of BJ's long post: I disagree that the idea of a hostess is holding poker back from other mainstream sports. If poker has any problem in this area, it's the "poker media," which has yet to fully mature. (It's not even close.)

As big as poker is right now, the poker media is lagging far behind. And you can't blame Shana/Courtney/Sabina for that.

10:36 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Interesting that you compare the WPT "sideline" reporter with other sports. Two years ago, Playboy model Lisa Guerrero was the MNF sideline reporter. That's probably the most-extreme example.

Many women in sports journalism got their start on the sidelines and many have lacked initial credibility.

10:51 AM  
Blogger cc said...

I was wondering the same thing regarding Friel getting replaced. Shana is near and dear to most players, but I actually think Friel has more solid TV/journalistic background and capabilities. The question is for WPT do we need her bouncing around in a bikini or low-cut dress? I don't think it's necessary actually; I'd prefer to have a lady as a peer to the other two but able to bring different things to the broadcasts. But the WPT is fairly slanted when it comes to ladies anyways. Think back on every female final table or the ladies shows: always we get to see the mom and wife who also plays (think back on Clonie as an example). I haven't seen any footage of these guys at their kids school or soccer games. WPT had set the standard, but I agree that High Stakes has now the superior talking heads with Kaplan as by far the best, and the horrible final table structure erodes the legitmacy of the play.

I've obviously got too much time on my hands. Sorry for all that.

12:27 PM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

HA! Dissed Hoyazo by not linking to his blog and only his blog.. I think I like you.. lol.

2:35 PM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

Does Miz Poland play Omaha 8 or better?

As Chad and BJ point out, the best TV/media coverage of poker comes from those who are knowledgable about the game.

If the new "hostess" comes off as aloof when the players are discussing the game she'll lose the "pokery" luster that Shana displayed.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Hmmmm. Apparently Waffles is having trouble reading the first lines of your blog posts in addition to staying off tilt against me in late-night blogger tournaments as well....

8:28 AM  
Blogger drewspop said...

I got sucked out on early in the WWdN this week, but nonetheless, started at your table. Welcome to the tourney. I second the pimp for Mookie's tourney, also a lot of fun.

Have a good weekend.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Steve Brecher said...

"will be joining Lou Krieger and I"

OK, you scoundrel, what have you done with Amy?

6:30 AM  
Blogger amy said...

Hey mookie, I'll definately check out one of your tournaments soon.

And drewspop, I remember you (and unfortunately the suckout) well. Hopefully we'll both last a little longer next time.

And FINALLY Steve Brecher finds the blog! I've been posting grammatical errors and misspelled words as bait for weeks now, knowing you wouldn't be able to resist. You, Strunk, and White are correct. And I obviously need more coffee on the mornings that I post.


7:02 AM  
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10:14 PM  

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