Not Quite the Michael Buffer of Poker

by , Mar 2, 2008 | 4:38 pm

Jordan Siegel NBC heads-up

NBC Heads-Up Championship announcer Jordan Siegel, who may or may not have won the gig in a $1,000 Bellagio tourney.

The NBC heads-up announcer whom I was criticizing the other day for not acknowledging runner-runner possibilities and generally lacking a little excitement in his live play-by-play is Jordan Siegel, a semi-accomplished player in his own right, who seems to be runnin’ pretty good recently, too.

We’ll see if we can’t get a photo up here before it’s too late to be relevant so you know who I am talking about. I think he has been on TV once before.

Seriously, I wasn’t trying to pick too hard — a gig is a gig and we all want to do well, especially when the HD cameras are rolling — but this event, for all the excitement around it, is reportedly struggling in the eyes of NBC. And that has me thinkin’-bout soccer, which any real fan can tell you hasn’t quite taken off in America not because the sport isn’t exciting enough, but because the broadcasters and commentators don’t know how to cover it like not-basketball, or in this case not-golf.

ALT HED: I Hope He’s Not Related to Bugsy


7 Comments to “Not Quite the Michael Buffer of Poker”


  1. Kevin Mathers
    says:

    Any comments about this: (From Pokerlistings):

    The media section for this event is tucked away behind the last row of audience seating, making it nearly impossible to see any of the hands. Up until this point we’ve been relying on the tournament announcer and, up until this point, he’s done a relatively good job.

    Apparently he’s decided the final match just isn’t important enough to announce so there’s basically an audience full of people and us media sitting here watching without the faintest clue as to what’s transpiring on the felt. He’s currently sitting in a chair five feet from the final table, not announcing.


  2. Kevin Mathers
    says:

    Guess I got my answer, from CardPlayer:

    Our announcer is now back. He had to stay off the set during the filming of a promo piece nearby. At least now we can see what is going on.


  3. DanM
    says:

    I feel bad about this post now. The hedline especially … it’s not really Siegel’s role to be a John Madden. I fact, I just changed it … Still, we poker people have high expectations. I give him a C+, which is slightly better than average. We’ll see how it all comes out in the editing.

    You know who actually does a really good job of this sort of announcing? Phil Hellmuth. Seriously, I’ve seen him do it at a handful of charity events, and he makes it all really fun and exciting for the audience — and informative all the while. That’s why I think this job is kinda important … because they want to make poker a live spectator sport, but in a lot of situations there’s really not much to see (or hear for that matter) … so it falls on the annoouncer to keep the live audience engaged, as much as the viewers at home.


  4. Bober Poker
    says:

    Jordan Siegel knows how to capture the audience…NBC has found a true talent and a future star…


  5. jordan
    says:

    never responded to a blog before but here goes.. couple of responses for you on your article, as well as answers to some of your questions and those of your fellow bloggers (ps next time you can just ask me, Im not very hard to approach). Let me start by saying I have two jobs in the tournament, one is to inform the audience what is going on, but the more important job is to inform the producers whats going on and control the pace of the action in up to 8 matches at once. I would like nothing more than to crack jokes and entertain the audience all day and night, however what I’m paid by NBC for is to serve as not only an MC but their eyes and ears on the set. Stall the dealers during multiple all ins, stall the players from revealing their cards and hands while we wait to preserve some drama for television, and things like that. I was in the television business for ten years as an on air sportscaster, and I can feel the pain of those on media row who are relying on me to provide info and feel as though they are not getting enough. I will try to be more aware of that in the future. However on many occassions I would be told in my ear to stop talking because other things were going on around the set that required a quiet set, even if I was in the middle of a call. Remember this is a made for tv event, for the millions of network viewers, even if its at the expense of the few hundred in the crowd,the few in the media, or whats best for my image.

    Starting at the top, not listing the runner runner possibilities, it’s not that i didnt see them all (im not perfect however and am capable of missing one once in a while) my poker knowledge is quite extensive, but with producers talking in my ear, cueing the dealers, cueing the players, and most importantly not having my mike bleed over the “made for tv” audio of the players, there often just isnt an appropriate amount of time to list all outs. Its more important not to miscall what actually does fall and who it helps and all on the fly without feeling the wrath of a player whom i miscalled, many of whom I am friends with. As for the excitement and personality, I would love to infuse more of that, however again the show is for an NBC television audience, and too much interaction on my part with with players who are miked for TV will make for too much unusable audio for the broadcast and was something I was told not to do. On a similar note making too many comments about the suits of the cards or how quick or slow a player has acted or the pot size or odds before the hand is complete while providing more info for the crowd may be seen as influencing the action, a huge no-no since I may or may not have seen the players hole cards.

    As for sitting down during the finals, while tired i was just as interested as anyone else in the poker room if not more, the simple truth is there were many times during each segment (like the first five minutes of each bracket for example) where I am required to be offset and quiet for crowd tone recordings, stand-ups, interviews, and certain camera moves. Once the matches went from eight at a time down to four then two then one it was necessary to come on and off the set as not to “hover” over the action and broadcast. This was especially true in the finals when i was told to switch between sitting off set and walking on set. I tried to get in place for all major pots, but believe me when I tell you it wasnt me being lazy, just doing my job, sorry if it made you guys doing yours more difficult, that wasn’t my intention. Oh well they say any publicity is good publicity, thanks for the action…


  6. DanM
    says:

    Jordan, thanks for the insight into how it all works when a semi-major TV production meets a different kinda poker tournament.

    Any bloggers who skewered you are total a-holes just jealous of your success. So don’t let them bring you down.

    Upon reading your explanations of what was going on in your ear, it makes me realize that some of the “problems” have nothing to do with you, but with TV networks and their 2005-06 perception of what makes good poker on TV. You know, maybe what a show like the NHUPC could benefit from isn’t so much a Michael Buffer but rather a Bob Barker.

    BTW, has anyone ever told you you look like a young Peter Tamarkin?


  7. Tom Schneider
    says:

    Hey Jordan,

    It’s nice of you to go slumming at Pokerati. Dan tries everything to get top players and celebreties to visit his site. Dan is just jealous of your ability to get an announcing job on a show that is actually going to be seen on T.V.

    It’s funny to get criticism from people who don’t know anything about what they criticize. I get it all the time in poker, however, I’m not nice enough to explain why I do the things I do.

    Thanks for infoming Dan how to do announcing in case his big break with the Poker Bowl comes through.

    Oh and by the way, Jordan, tell uncle Bugsy I say hi.