Coming Down from the WSOP

The Poker Beat

by , Jul 29, 2010 | 8:06 pm

Getting caught up and back in the swing of things — slowly but surely — so what better way than to listen to the most recent episode of The Poker Beat?

The Poker Beat: July 22, 2010

Rookie twitterer @GaryWise1 took his turn in Capt. Huff’s chair as @BJNemeth and @JessWelman panel-bantered about:

  • The pre-markup hearing in DC with Annie Duke
  • Make-up of the 2010 November Nine
  • The value, if any, of poker agents — and how the WSOP accommodates them during the main event
  • BJ’s philosophical non-dilemma over coverage of Matt Affleck’s emotional bustout *
  • The difference between poker media and poker journalism
  • The Year of Mizrachi and the accidental WTF? of the current WSOP Player of the Year scoring system
  • Annette Obrestad’s B- performance
  • The 3-headed Monster of Team WSOP without @JeffreyPollack
  • WSOP numbers and final table times

* great explanation, BJ. But question … Is there any discernable line where the “field of play” in poker begins, and ends?

Other episode-relevant links:

The Redemption of Matt Affleck by Gary Wise
The Long, Lonely Walk of Matt Affleck by Howard Swains (with photos by Joe Giron)

Next ep coming tomorrow. Play along in the PokerRoad forums.

8 Comments to “Coming Down from the WSOP ”

  1. BJ Nemeth

    “* great explanation, BJ. But question … Is there any discernable line where the “field of play” in poker begins, and ends?”

    It’s something that I handle on a case-by-case basis. But here are some general guidelines that I follow:

    1. When a player leaves the tournament area, there has to be a compelling reason to take a photo, or a situation where the player expects it. For example, it’s fair game to photograph a player who is signing autographs for a group of fans, or walking in the hallway in the Rio near the WSOP. But not when they are having dinner.

    2. Family members of players should only be photographed if they implicitly expect to be photographed. If they are in the stands of a final table, or standing on the rail, they are fair game. But if a player is in the hall of the Rio with their family, for example, that is off limits unless they tell me otherwise or clearly indicate (via body language or whatever) that it’s okay. If a family member specifically requests not to be photographed, I’ll do my best to honor that. (I couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t be visible in the background, but I wouldn’t feature them in any photos.)

    3. Unless a photo is tremendously newsworthy, I’ll usually delete it at a player’s request for any good reason — even if they just consider it to be an unflattering photo. During the WSOP, I got some great photos of a notable player and a notable industry person having an impromptu meeting at a poker table during a break. I took photos from a distance so as not to disturb them, but when they were finished, I went up to them and showed them the photos. They thought the photos were fine, but might lead to incorrect rumors and speculation, and requested that I don’t post them. I deleted those photos off my camera immediately. It’s unfortunate, because they were great photos and the meeting wasn’t anything secret or surprising, but I have no regrets for deleting them.

    4. Here’s a comparable situation to the Matt Affleck bustout. When Phil Hellmuth busted out of the WPT Bay 101 on a bad beat back in March he curled up in a ball on the stage with his head down. (FYI, I was doing hand-for-hand coverage so couldn’t take photos, so everything from this point is theoretical.) I would have had no problem taking photos of him in that state, which to me is comparable to Matt Affleck leaning over face down on the table for 10-15 seconds after his bustout. However, if Hellmuth walked to an area where the audience couldn’t see him to vent, yell, cry, or compose himself, I wouldn’t follow. (Matt Affleck didn’t have that option, because the WSOP setup is dramatically different from the WPT’s setup.)

    5. If there is a situation where someone has a medical situation in the tournament area (like Miami John or Eskimo Clark have in the past few years), I will start shooting photos. Mainly, I’ll be interested in showing the entire situation, and no closeups of the person having problems. I’ll shoot like crazy because it’s a fast-moving situation, but I wouldn’t use any photos that showed the person in distress. It’s a case-by-case basis, and a lot depends on the actual photo. But I wouldn’t show the person unconscious on the ground. I might show a paramedic helping them out of the tournament area if the person looked alright in the photo. (Similar to a football player being helped off the field.) If there was no “good” photo like that, I would try to run a photo of the gathered crowd or something similar. There are a lot of ways to tell that story in a photograph without unduly embarrassing the person.

    Generally, when I am in a tournament area taking photos, I try to be as sneaky as possible, because I want natural poses and don’t want to disturb the players. If I am outside the tournament area, I try to be as obvious as possible, so the player KNOWS that their picture is being taken.

    I have been fortunate in my career as a photographer that none of my employers have ever “forced” me to take a photo that I wasn’t comfortable with. There were 1 or 2 times when I was asked to take a photo, but when I explained why I’d rather not shoot that particular moment, they retracted the request. (Each time because they agreed with my reasoning.)


    ^^^^^’s why I not only admire your work!

  3. Jimmy S

    I don’t get the Matt Affleck thing. He lost a hand. That sucks, but boo fucking hoo. Lots of players lose lots of hands late in tournaments. He doesn’t deserve any more credit or consideration or deference than any other player that lost a tough hand. It’s just a part of the game.

    If a player was in the World Series (of Baseball) and hit a long almost homerun that was miraculously caught by the center fielder over the wall, and that would have been the game winner, shouldn’t we show his reaction?

    There’s no crying in baseball, why is there crying in poker?

  4. Paul

    When you were there, and you were witnessing the situation first hand, it was impossible to not melt down WITH Affleck. It’s hard to explain, but there was this piece of me, and probably everyone that was just pulling for Matt to make a deep run. He was just well liked by everyone…one of the good guys and good feeling stories of the remaining players….someone that you could identify with, and his bustout was completely frustrating for everyone there in a moment that would have changed the entire landscape of the tournament for the good.

    Also, great podcast guys,and nice job of filling in by Gary. If you need a fill in host, let me know. I’ll charge the same rate as my other broadcast fee….maybe a 100% mark-up, which would still make it the same rate.

  5. Immortal Truth

    Respecting peoples privacy is understandable.

    Anything that happens in a public forum/area should be fair game. Reality is sometimes ugly.

    As for the “you had to be there” argument. Many of us can not be there – that is the purpose/interest. Part of the job is to make us understand, feel the frustration, and why it is good for the tournament.

  6. Paul

    Immortal, I agree with that. I think that the job that we had as media was to relay what we saw to those that didn’t. Matt Affleck’s story was one that I didn’t fully comprehend until after I left.

    Last year, Affleck went from Chip leader with about 180 left to out in about 80th. He was abusing the field, and then just spewed off a ton of chips, tilting till he went bust.

    This year, it was a different level of focus and determination. Matt is one of the “Good guys.” One of those stories and peronalities that ultimately you just find yourself rooting for. As the days went forward, and as he continued to not only survive, but thrive, it became evident that his chance at the November 9 was only a stepping stone to what could ultimately be a fairytale come true. He wanted to win. Not to say that the other guys in the field didn’t, but it was that “rooting” spirit that he had a manor of casting among those that surrounded him, that simply roped you into the possibility that it could happen, and it made you feel good.

    Duhamel really misplayed his JJ. When Affleck shipped in on the turn card, Duhamel tanked for what seemed like forever. It may have only been for 3 or 4 minutes, but in the span of 3 or 4 minutes of waiting for a decision, that’s a LONG LONG time. When he finally, sheepishly, said “Call,” Affleck turned his Aces over and was way ahead. I think that by the math, Duhamel was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% to win.

    A great comparable to last year would be the hand of Phil Ivey vs. Darvin Moon (AK vs. AQ). It wasn’t exactly the same scale, but it was closer to that than anything that I can think of. When the 8 fell the river, it was as if I relived the Q in the door all over again. My heart sank. I remember this feeling of “well, now who do we root for?”

    I’d never meet Matt Affleck before this World Series deep run. I didn’t even know that he’d run deep into last year until someone told me long after he’d gone broke. But when he wept into his ballcap, I got misty eyed. If he dodges 1 more card on that perilous river, he’s the chip leader. But alas, the poker gods wrote a different tale for Affleck…one that will make him wait till at least next year.

    I think it will make for FANTASTIC television when it airs. I can’t wait to see how ESPN captures the moment. I wonder if I’ll end up feeling the same way that I do now.


    I rarely disagree with BJ on Poker issue’s however on his opinion of not capturing Matt’s expression when he lost on the river, I have too.

    Sometimes being a photographer News Reporter or anyone who deals with the public on a daily basis decisions that have to be made are tough.

    One example that comes to mind is the award winning picture from Vietnam after a bomb had struck a small village and the little girl was running down the road naked and crying.

    I read somewhere th photographer/journalist was pained by that photo and almost never had it reproduced but it is one of the most gut wrenching photos to show how war truly affects not only the soldiers and their families but the people who live in the country.

    Also remember the ABC lead in on shows they would say “The thrill of Victory and the agony of defeat” they would show some tense moments in those pictures.

    I have had the priviledge of speaking to Matt at a few events and like a lot of the players out there today he is just a regular guy friendly, knowledgeable and approachable.

    This was part of history this moment at the poker table. Nothing like a world series baseball game or a Super Bowl or an Olympic event but this is the “Show” for Poker and all the players know this, so when a moment such as Matt’s comes up it is the duty of a GREAT photographer/journalist to capture the moment for the game and for the fans.

  8. DanM

    Ultimately I disagree with BJ (and Scott) here … but fortunately none of us need to be batting 1.000 in our journalistic pursuits. 92 percent is what I personally shoot for … and BJ is well within that range on his journo decisions.

    But I may continue to mock him: Ha ha, BJ, you pussy! Fugk feelings! They are for the weak! Forget trying to capture tears … you haven’t arrived until you’ve caused them!

    With that said, I think I really woulda liked to see a pic WITH the hat over the face. Think that coulda been a win-win.