Over the last 10 years I have been fortunate enough to get paid for something that I enjoy while traveling the world. Poker and writing has become an integral part of my daily life. During the events I work at, poker enthusiasts from all over the world with different backgrounds and experience come together to compete at the tables for potentially life-changing money.
This also gives me the opportunity to share their story and more often than not, I would take the time to speak with some players that I have never met before. This kind of small talk is not just limited to what happens at the poker tables and can certainly create a bond over time throughout numerous other live poker events thereafter.
One of these conversations took place during the recently concluded World Series of Poker Circuit Main Event at the King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. One of the players from Denmark named Thomas was sitting by himself in the cash game area with a smile on the face, waiting for potential action to start. I had covered a few hands of him in the early and mid stages, then met him at the gym prior to Day 3 when we were both trying to build up momentum for a challenging day.
On the way out, I wished him good luck and he was first suspecting me to be a fellow poker player still in contention before I briefly explained my job duties. Thomas went on to reach the final two tables and busted in 13th place, right on the bubble for an additional ticket to the 2022 WSOP Europe Main Event worth €10,350. Most would have been rather depleted the following day still when our conversation took place but he was all smiles and explained he had won the initial entry through a satellite.
The topic then shifted to my job duties and Thomas remarked “that’s cool, you get paid to do this kind of stuff, I never knew that was a thing.” He also quickly recognized a flaw in the live reporting, since it’s impossible to catch all the action and table dynamics that lead to those hands the reporter(s) stumble upon into while pacing up and down in the tournament area.
We parted ways after 15 minutes as I had to get ready for the live-streamed final table but the conversation sparked the idea for this article.
Live Poker Reporting; To What End?
What exactly is the purpose of live reporting in poker? What goal does it ultimately have and who actually follows these updates? As someone who has been involved in the content creation from up close for several years, I wanted to portray my point of view on these questions below.
From a corporate point of view, the purpose and goal of live reporting seems rather simple. Growing of the brand awareness as a tool of marketing efforts has become common on the live poker circuit. With plenty of expenses on the side for staff, dealers, and venues, most live events don’t generate a fortune of profit with perhaps the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas as an exception.
Live reporting is just one of the potential avenues to grow the popularity of the sponsoring poker site or host casino. Live streams with commentary is another option that has gained a lot of traction throughout the last few years. Hiring a well-known news site to provide live updates during major festivals is only a relatively small expense but still not as common in the poker industry.
What about the Live Poker Reporter?
From the perspective of the person delivering the content itself, it’s rather obvious that this provides a source of income. Unlike 80-90% of the field, the live reporter is guaranteed to make a profit at the end of the tournament, but it certainly won’t make you rich. In my case, I can combine my passion for poker, event management and writing to showcase my talents under high-pressure circumstances.
Quite simply, to me it is more than just a job because I don’t mind the often unpredictable chaos, long working hours and required multi-tasking difficulties. Being challenged to reach and surpass your own limits is a pivotal aspect to growing and improving, which should be the ultimate goal for all ambitious people no matter in which job they are active in.
Live Reporting is a Poker Information Conduit
Onto the most important aspect of the live reporting, what exactly is the purpose and goal with regards to the action at the tables?
The main task at hand is to provide as much information as possible of what is happening throughout the entire duration of a tournament. Needless to say, this will always be incomplete as it takes a while to process and relay the information. Table dynamics that have built up over hours may be missing but updating chip counts regularly can partly make up for that.
The most crucial information such as number of entries and remaining players should be updated regularly. This may even give some undecided players the urge to join if an overlay is looming, while those still in contention may not have to glance over their shoulder on the info screen and just use their smart phone to find out. One particular case would be the payout structure, as players tend to base some of their decisions on upcoming pay jumps.
What to Include; What NOT to Include
All updates itself should not include any judgment on how the action played but just include the most crucial information such as the cards, positions, bet sizes and stack sizes. No assumptions should be made on potential action on a previous street even if it makes the most sense from a strategic point of view. However, the reporting should not shy away from mentioning good sportsmanship or bad behavior, as long as it focuses on the facts and correct quotes only.
Most of those following the updates are typically the participating players itself, as they also want to find out what is happening at the other tables. Some even share screenshots of their key hands in the reporting with friends and family, whether they are good or bad beats, great laydowns or difficult calls for their tournament life. Giving fans the ability to follow their “poker heroes” is certainly one of the key goals of live reporting.
Providing as many key hands as possible until the conclusion of a poker tournament requires a lot of dedication, efficient processing and the willingness to go the extra mile. During most international poker tournaments, the team of reporters typically consists of either just one or a handful of people for each outlet and, as such, by definition only a fraction of the hands played can be relayed until the final few tables.
Forming a coherent and consistent story from start to finish is the ultimate goal of live poker reporting, and this typically culminates in a wrap-up article at the end of a tournament day. I dare say that growing the game of poker and showcasing that it’s much more than a game of chance serves an honorable purpose, not just for live reporting but also everyone involved in the industry itself. We as live reporters contribute our part to that by delivering stories from the felt.