EPT12 Prague: The eyes of the EPT that you never get to see
To those of you watching the action on #EPTLive it probably appears that everything is running like clockwork and that this live broadcasting game is pretty easy.
That's only because the team make it appear that way. There are many cogs within the system that all have to work together to keep the show on the road.
Three of those cogs have provided some of the most memorable moments of EPT footage down the years and they were the team who caught the exit of Niall Farrell earlier today, as the Scotsman's bid for back to back EPT titles ended in 40th place.
They're your eyes on the ground but you never see them and quite frankly they wouldn't have it any other way. If you did they wouldn't be doing their jobs properly. But David (cameraman), Steve (boom microphone operator) and Pete (floor producer) are always there, waiting to capture the action and bring it to your screen. They're very much a team, hunting in a pack.
They're rarely doing nothing, but a brief period of inaction comes to an end as they head off to table two for an all-in. David, who has been at every televised EPT, and is the only member of the crew with that distinction, takes up residency at one end of the table. The camera focuses in on David Abreu, who has three-bet all-in with A♦J♠ and been called by Thomas Butzhammer who holds pocket tens
Steve, who's been covering poker events since 2011, is towards the other end of the table with the microphone raised high (out of shot) and aimed squarely at the middle of the table. Pete, who got into covering poker on TV in 2006, after playing it on TV, is busy communicating with the producer and director upstairs. "I relay the information upstairs and they pass information down to us, it's a two way street," he says.
There's a brief pause and then the dealer is given the go ahead to run the community cards. The board runs out 5♣K♦J♦T♣3♠ and Abreu is on his way. The camera lingers though for a few more seconds before they're off to another table. The footage they've just captured will be weaved into the #EPTLive broadcast shortly.
This time they're hunting for the chip leaders. Pete's done a loop of the tables and it looks as if Marc McDonnell is the man they need to focus on. Pete talks into his microphone to let those upstairs in on the name of the chip leader whilst David and Steve head to the table to get the shot.
It's not just the Main Event they cover of course, the €10,000 High Roller began today and has just gone on a break. The three of them spot Jason Mercier and Roberto Romanello loitering with intent and decide to get a soundbite from Mercier.
They need to be quick though because the next all-in is never far away. As the final seconds of the level expire and the players head off on a break they are still working as there's one more all-in to capture. Dobromir Nikov had four-bet shoved for 415,000 (25 big blinds) and Ivan Deyra had made the obligatory call with pocket kings.
An A♥9♦2♥2♦Q♣ board later and Nikov was gone whilst Deyra was the new chip leader and this information was swiftly passed upstairs to be used in the broadcast. "When it happens, you've got to get it," says David. "You've got to stay aware. It's easy at this stage, it's harder when the tables are all over the place."
Such as during the bubble. It's the point in the tournament that's stressful for the players and for those capturing the moment for posterity it's no different. "The bubble is the most intense time," believes David. "It's the worst, but best part of the week," adds Pete. "It's a test."
Being a cameraman has parallels with a goal keeper in a team that usually dominates their matches. "It's a big chunk of nothing, to very intense moments," says David, "You've got to keep your eyes on the game."
Both Pete and David are adamant that you need to know poker well to be able to do this job. "I was there at the start and none of us knew poker, it was chaos," says David. "You've got to know where the action is, where the reaction is going to come from. You need to be where the action is and for that you need to know poker."
For Pete his job almost needs him to know what's going to happen before it does. "Sensing a big pot brewing is another skill you need. The stress comes from making sure you don't miss it."
And much like the players these guys face long working days away from home but unlike them they can't win life changing money, just earn the money that gives them a life. What's more not only do they know poker, they enjoy watching the game. I mean you'd be a bit bonkers spending all this time on it if you didn't. As Pete puts it. "I like the game, that's what keeps me going."
You can follow all the Main Event action on this page.
If you like moving pictures then you'll be happy to hear that #EPTLive coverage of the Main Event is still going strong. Watch that here.
And side event coverage - lots of it - can be found here. Whilst the results of the events that have already finished are being collated here.