Chip Stacks, Televised Events, and You (Part 1)

Jeff Freeman"Why isn't my chip stack near the size of the guys I see on TV? I'm not playing enough hands!"

(Bet, call, bet, call, bet... bust!)

New players often wonder why they're not pulling in the giant pots they see on television. Before you go blazing through your chip stack betting on cards better suited as beer coasters, it's important to consider what kind of program you're watching.

Though there's a wide range of hold 'em poker broadcasts, we'll concentrate on the differences between two: ESPN's coverage of the "World Series of Poker" and NBC's "Poker After Dark." In this article, we'll talk about the former.

While watching ESPN's coverage, keep in mind that they hire a production company to cover the "World Series of Poker." In a nutshell, a small army of production magicians cover the days-long event. They conjure an exciting series of one-hour shows for ESPN.

As such, a vast array of hands could unfold before you: premium versus premium, a big bluff, a huge lay down, you name it.

You're probably watching a hand in which someone is going to win a huge amount of chips with very strange cards. Is the player with a horrible set of hole cards not known for bluffing? Did he hit two great hands in a row? Does he think he's got everyone at the table scared of his unpredictable play?

Truth is, you'll never know. There's an incredible number of variables that help a player decide if he's going to play a hand or fold it.

Coverage of the Main Event is very fast and masterfully edited. Rather than cover hand after hand at one table, the show focuses on highlights of the event. When the final product comes together, viewers are watching the most entertaining hands of the event.

You can still learn a lot from ESPN's coverage: commentary during the games help you understand what's developing. Segments throughout the series give you a peek into the minds of your favorite pros.

Above all, keep in mind how quickly the show moves. Nothing is worse than obliterating your stack quicker than a commercial break!