WPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure: Behind the Scenes

In a previous life, I spent many years in the TV news industry. Story subjects were often dumbfounded with the amount of time and effort that goes into a two-minute piece. Moreover, they rarely could understand the amount of tape that ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor.

That said, it's a little easier for me to understand that the producers over at the World Poker Tour had to make some difficult decisions when they cut down the final table of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure to the two-hour broadcast. Fortunately, I was there for the whole thing.

So, what did you miss?

Mike and Vince: Not omniscient

After I described how close Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten were sitting to the players, quite a few readers of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure blog expressed a little concern that the hosts of the WPT would accidentally give away the players' secrets.

Before the show began, the ever-recognizable Linda Johnson explained to player Patrick "The Hawk" Hocking that while Mike and Vince sit close to the players, there was just one guy locked in a room somewhere on the property and he was the only one who can see the holecard cams. The perceived ominiscience of the hosts comes from some overdubbing done later in a studio. While Mike and Vince do some commentary from table-side, the majority of what you hear was actually recorded later in a studio.

Sure, it seems obvious, but some readers asked, so it seemeed worth repeating.

Wow, that guy will clap for anybody

You might note when you watch the WPT that when the camera pans to the crowd, the railbirds seem to be fickle or very generous with their applause. At one time, they are clapping for the guy in the one-seat. The next moment they are clapping for the guy in the six-seat.

As you might expect, it's all TV tricks. Before play at the final table begins, Linda Johnson warms up the crowd, taking them through a series of "oooohs," "ahhhhs," and wild clapping, which the cameras record. That way, when the WPT producers need a way to edit the final table down to two hours, they can cut to Pete from New York clapping for John Gale. Or clapping for Patrick Hocking. As long as he's clapping.

Happy birthday, Miami John

I was sad that the final edit cut out one of the nicest parts of the final table at the PCA. While not entirely spontaneous, the players all stood and sang "Happy Birthday" to Miami John Cernuto. Later, Johnson asked Cernuto how old he was.

"Thirty-nine," Miami John responded.

"Yeah, me, too," Linda scoffed.

It's not my fault!

Some readers can be quite demanding. I remember one reader firing off an ugly e-mail, telling me to get on with reporting the play at the final table, and stop writing about trivial matters. As it happened, just after we started final table play, the entire island suffered a massive power failure. In short, there was no play going on for some time while power was restored. During that time, Johnson entertained the crowd with trivia questions. For instance:

Q. You know kow what Mike Sexton did in the military?
A. He was a paratrooper.


One problem with having an outdoor final table in the land of the trade winds was the cards. By about 1pm on the final day of play, the wind had picked up so much that concealing the cards became an issue. At one point, the nine of spades just up and blew off the table. Hence, for most of the afternoon, the dealers were forced to deal like they do in France, sliding the cards off the top of the deck with the tips of their fingers, then sliding them individually to the players.

Grumpy Englishman?

For someone who just watched the final table as seen on TV, they might not have understood why John Gale raised pre-flop with J9o and then called Patrick Hocking's all-in bet with, "Patrick, I'm getting tired of you doing that." As far as you'd seen on TV, it was the firt time Hocking had pulled such a move. In fact, Gale raised a few times previously, only to be forced to lay down his hand to a re-raise. At least once before this moment, it had been at Hocking's hands. On TV, it might not have made much sense, but in context, it was a little easier to understand.

So, there's a few things that ended up on the cutting room floor.

For everything else, feel free to head over to the official PokerStars Caribbean Adventure blog.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in PokerStars news