ESPN secures a lot of drama for the final table broadcast

ESPN got its wish when the World Series of Poker main event final table played out dramatically. However, during the longest final table in WSOP history, excessive extraordinary hand gestures made Jamie Horowitz and his team’s job much more difficult.

“We definitely had a lot of work to do,” said ESPN’s chief producer, who oversaw the final table’s “Same Day Coverage” for the second year in a row. “It’s a challenge to accomplish what we just did, believe in me, and it’s been hard to leave out some of what we did. But that’s the nature of the beast. Whatever you do on TV, you always find yourself leaving items on the floor that you wished you could fit in. Unfortunately, however, we didn’t have a show for five hours.”

The last table broadcast, which aired on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET, lasted two hours of ½ this year rather than the usual two hours, a move ESPN said was aimed at accommodating more hands, particularly in the head-up segment.

“The extra time made a difference for us,” Horowitz said. “It gave us some flexibility. And I think we made good use of the extra time.” 경마

Overall, ESPN showed 32 hands out of 364 games over two days. Seven of the hands shown were head-ups between eventual champion Joe Cada and runner-up Dabin Moon. Last year, ESPN showed only two hands out of the head-up parts of the game.

Narrowing the stadium from nine to two and then taking a break between head-ups also changed the schedule this year. Horowitz said he canned the first hour of the show until the break ended, but continued editing until Tuesday afternoon to finish the entire show.

“We were against it, but that’s how poker editing works,” he said. “Honestly, if they had told us we were free until next Wednesday, we would still have edited until the last minute. You can always make it better.”

Horowitz said the trickiest part of producing the show was the balance between capturing Phil Ivy and telling the story of Davin and Joe Kada.

“There was a lot of interest in Phil Ivy, so we felt we had to fully explore her story,” Horowitz said. “But at the same time, we had to prepare for a pregame between Dabin and Kada. It wasn’t easy to do, but I think we understood it well.”

Ivy really was a big hit on the television show. In fact, the show’s nearly entire introduction, which was edited by Dylan Boucherle, the lead editor of the project, focused on Ivy’s attempts to become undoubtedly the greatest player in the game. And even though Ivy was in seventh place, he didn’t get knocked out until the second hour of the television show.

“Every time we picked a place to remove Ivy, someone would say, ‘Hey, how’s this hand? We have to show those hands,'” Horowitz explained. “Ivy was a very important part of the story. We just felt like we had to put as many of his hands as we could.”

Shortly before Ivey was eliminated, Cada underperformed with fewer than 3 million chips. His ascent, which led the chip with five large blinds, required around eight hours, 154 hands in real time, but ESPN had to build a story line rather quickly. Cada apparently had to make some quick efforts to get back into the race and was fortunate to be able to hold onto the card with two dramatic hands. Horowitz acknowledged that while he and his fellow producers always try to show good combinations of hands that show players’ skills and luck, doing so can be difficult.

“I don’t want to just show my lucky hands, but still, the hands that make the most dramatic and the best TV are those hands,” he said. “Joe definitely had to play great poker to position himself to win it. We tried to draw that much. But when you have a hand with a giant pot and a guy hits a card in a river, you can’t keep it in your pocket. It’s got to be in there for sure.”

Ratings for the last-table television show are down slightly from last year. The show averaged 1.8 million to 1.8 million viewers, down from 1.9 viewers on its last show in 2008. However, WSOP ratings are up 8% overall this year. And in major demographics of men between the ages of 25 and 54, ratings are up as much as 13%. Horowitz credits TV shows with some minor tweaks, such as music choices or focusing on telling more stories about players far from the reel. Another change he feels has helped with ratings is that he aired six more main event shows than the previous year.

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