Chip Stacks, Televised Events, and You (Part 2)

Jeff FreemanThere’s no doubt that ESPN’s coverage of “World Series of Poker” is fast-paced and exciting. The series punctuates big pots, big hands, and big money. Some of the best players in the world sit flanked by monster stacks of hard-earned chips.

Players looking to up their skills may not realize that a highlights-based show set to the soundtrack of thousands of chips is a dangerous place to look for poker advice.

A more in-depth show is usually the better bet (and certainly easier on the wallet).

NBC’s “Poker After Dark” focuses on a single table tournament. The tournament is broken down into a week-long series of one-hour episodes. Most importantly, the show rolls on every single hand in the tournament. It doesn’t matter if a big pot rests on the river card or if everyone folds around to the big blind.

To a reckless, action-hungry player with unrealistic expectations, it sounds pretty boring – but those are the kinds of players that don’t stick around very long!

To a player that understands patience and discipline are two of the most important attributes of a good poker player, watching a table surrounded by pros mixing it up in big brother style coverage is a great learning tool.

The single table tournament allows you to watch every hand develop throughout the tournament. You’re offered the opportunity to analyze the tournament as a whole, not just the hand.

Why did Daniel Negreanu fold pocket kings? How did Chris “Jesus” Ferguson take down a huge pot with garbage hole cards? What sent “Poker Brat” Phil Helmuth Jr. into another of his infamous tirades?

Poker strategy is a lot easier to figure out when you’ve been watching the tournament hand after hand after hand.

As in “World Series of Poker” coverage, viewers have the advantage of seeing each player’s hole cards. However, they’ve also got the added ability to use previous hand outcomes to help them decipher what happens in hands that follow.

Take enough mental notes (or use the rewind button often on your DVR) and it becomes easier to see why a player decided on one course of action over another.