Rehashing the hole-card debate in poker

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  • Published July 25th, 2011 in Poker, WSOP

After watching yet another live stream of a poker tournament, I’ve decided to rehash an earlier argument I made on my blog in November of 2010, where I wrote:

“#1: Poker is much better WITHOUT the hole-card cam! Actually I think the hole-card cam has its place, and that place is after the hand is concluded. I would love to see a poker telecast switch to a format where we do not see a player’s hole-cards until the hand is over. This would give us the mystery, and play-along value, of not knowing the hand, and at the same time remove the buzz-kill aspect of never knowing if your read was right or not.”

A year later, after watching virtually the entire 12-hour stream of the $50k Players Championship, as well as the Main Event live feed, I not only agree with my previous position, I hole-heartedly agree with it!

Not only would limiting the use of the hole-card cam to after the hand be more suspenseful for the average poker fan, but it would make the telecasts infinitely more interesting for serious poker players and poker enthusiasts. I could literally watch poker tournaments where hole-cards are only revealed at the conclusion of the hand, and I think casual fans would soon come around to the format as well.

Basically, hidden hole cards until the conclusion of the hand still allows the casual viewers at home to “play along”, while allowing more seasoned viewers the opportunity to think through the hands -For instance, back in the day, poker without hole-cards of any sort was like watching Jeopardy and not getting the correct answer if nobody answered correctly: Poker with hole cards throughout is like watching Jeopardy and getting the answer up-front: While poker with hole cards revealed at the end of the hand is like Jeopardy!

Another issue people cite is the length of a poker tournament, but if you stop and think about other long, slow-paced, sports: Golf, Bowling, Marathons, Cycling, NASCAR, etc. the fact that the sport is slow-paced isn’t a detriment, in fact it makes it easier to sit through 6-hours of coverage, since you can get up and not worry about missing any action if you leave for 30-minutes!

I think live streaming poker is the perfect Saturday afternoon broadcast. Poker is never going to compete with the major sports, but it does have a place on a slightly smaller network. And who knows, in a few years it may supplant golf as the sport to watch on a slow sports’ weekend.

As a final thought, as the format grows, networks could have 10+ tables to choose from, and could always show a completed hand at any point –much like they do in Golf coverage where they “go back” to show footage of an impressive or important shot.

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  • Posted in: Poker, WSOP
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