EPT8 Campione: EPT Live's James Hartigan looks on

ept-thumb-promo.jpgThe EPT has been ground-breaking in many ways but, in terms of spectators, none more so than with the live stream. Other tours and events have followed in its footsteps but the James Hartigan-fronted show continues to be the best around. EPT Live Lite, as introduced at Deauville earlier this season, is a streamlined affair and will start blasting out across the internet in the lead up to tomorrow's final table.

I found Hartigan on the rail watching the action, a tall grim reaper whose arrival seemed to herald a short period of play which saw seven players tumble in less than an hour. We could have done with him last night.

The commentator held no notebook but seemed to be taking mental notes, which was the obvious explanation I could muster for the pained expression he was carrying. Or perhaps it originated from the tight buffeting of the local press who rushed from one table to the other as if chasing the ball at a tennis match. It seemed a good time to distract him: So, who's your hot tip at the moment?

Speaking in his presenting voice (which is also his day to day voice, as if the switch got stuck some years ago), Hartigan said: "Fabrice Soulier on the evidence that a) he has a lot of chips, b) he's been here before deep in tournaments and he knows what he's doing and c) he's running like God, or rather like his fellow countryman, ElkY."

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Fabrice Soulier caught in the moment of chipping up

Has anyone else caught your eye?

"At the moment I'm impressed how Soulier and (Koen) De Visscher have built their stacks over the day. Both seem to be playing well and running good."

It's odd to see Hartigan on the floor of the poker tournament, he's normally cooped up in a (semi) soundproof booth anchored by a headset to a desk which he must share with various Team Pros and assorted tiramisu-loving mad men. Is this how he prepares for broadcasts? Taking in the atmosphere, watching some of the players getting involved?

"It's actually really tough to do a final table when you haven't done the day before*. You come into it cold and you have eight players, most of whom you haven't seen play before or know their back stories, which is why I'll big up my co-host (blogger Marc Convey) who it will be good to work with.He's been here since the beginning and has watched every day of the tournament.

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Convey (background) watches the action

"That's why I'm out here railing the action to get to know the players, to get to know the personalities. That's the best preparation, I think, just to get to know them as human beings. My first point of research is always to go to the PokerStars Blog though," said Hartigan.

That's the correct thing to say, James. You can follow both and catch up on the last few day's play at EPT Live and the PokerStars Blog.

*Most EPT streams start on this day of the tournament, following the progress of the final 24 down to the eight final tablists.

Tournament snapshot
Level 24: blinds 12,000-24,000, ante 3,000
Players: 9 of 570
Average stack: 1,900,000
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Rick Dacey
@PokerStars in Campione