Give it Up to ESPN and Harrah’s

I seriously doubt that most of you truly understand what it took to get this event on TV in less than 24 hours. This is no small feat, it’s incredible and the entire production crew should be very proud of what they accomplished. With over 200 hands to choose from they needed to put together the best show they could using maybe 20 or so of the most exciting hands. They had to edit the show, Norm and Lon had to do the commentary… and no one really slept. These guys worked around the clock to make the deadline and get the show on ESPN. It’s just mind boggling when you have a little understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. The amount of work and dedication it took to make the final show as good as it was is beyond description. Luckily the WSOP has the absolute best crew in the business, hands down.
I hung out with the crew last night and had a lot of fun with them. They all needed, and deserved a few drinks after what they had to go through! Hats off to Ty Stewart also for having the vision for the delayed final table. There were a lot of skeptics early on, but there is no question that the delay created an atmosphere never before seen in a poker tournament. I’m talking a jam packed theater to watch… poker? It was insane. As poker players one of the things we are really, really good at it is complaining. Whether it’s food, waiting in lines, dealers, structures, or what have you, poker players are a finicky bunch. Thanks to the creation of a Players Advisory Council, the brainchild of Jeffrey Pollack, our complaints are always heard and things are done about it. Each of the past three years I think we have seen an improved experience at the WSOP and we owe a lot of that to Jeffrey Pollack and his staff. Jack Effel, the tournament director, genuinely cares too. Each year, months before the WSOP is even set to begin, he is already working on the schedule, the structures, and all sorts of mundane work in preparation for the WSOP. He’s done a tremendous job as tournament director and we are lucky to have him. For all the things wrong in the country at the moment with the economy, and the perceived decline in poker interest, the WSOP main event showed the world that poker is still very hot and extremely popular. Congratulations to all the final nine, you guys were part of history. Speaking of history, a special congratulations to Peter Eastgate for becoming the youngest main event champion in history. He played excellent poker, essentially taking the small ball approach to the extreme. He stayed patient, and waited for his opponents to hang themselves. Going in to the final table I predicted that Demidov and Eastgate would go heads up and it was an exciting match to watch with two contrasting styles.
At one point it looked like Demidov was gaining momentum and was going to claw his way back, but then an ill timed bluff took the wind out of his sail. Congrats to Ivan as well, though, for a great showing both in the main event as well as the main event at the WSOPE. This guy is for real and was a credit to his country, handling himself like a true gentleman every step of the way, in victory and in defeat.
So that’s that. The World Series of poker is officially over for 2008. It was such an incredible year all around and I can’t wait to get started again in 2009!