PCA 2012: Getting the picture

PCA-2010-thumbnail.jpg"My God!" someone exclaims. "I've never seen anyone's fingers work so fast."

Neil Stoddart and his assistant Kim Curtin have taken over the stage of the 2012 PCA main event. Every few seconds, a strobe flashes while Stoddart and Curtin measure the lights. This final table will not start until they have the shot. They have to work fast.

"I think we can build around Faraz," Stoddart muses as chip leader Faraz Jaka allows himself to be pulled to the front of the table.

From there, Stoddart composes the shot like Jackson Pollack. The people are his paint, and he tosses them together in a way that looks random but comes out looking like art.

"Excellent from the back row," Stoddart says to the players. "Mediocre on the front row."

This is not meant as a rejoinder. It's a joke meant to get the front row more in the mood. This is a shot that will live on in poker history. It has to be right.


Neil Stoddart working on the EPT in a rare moment of horsing around (note the light meters in his hand with the trophy)

Meanwhile, Joe Giron is darting between tables, crouching on the rail, and at times literally running across the room. Giron makes up the other half of the PokerStars Blog photography staff and today is on duty for the High Roller and World Cup of Poker. After a career in photojournalism with some of America's biggest newspapers, Giron shifted to shooting just about every rock band and musician you've ever heard of. The bulk of his work came as the traveling photographer for metal great Pantera. Since 2005, Giron has worked in the poker industry and traveled all over the world capturing some of the most iconic moments of the game. Where many people who call themselves photographers shoot 40 snaps in a row in hopes of nailing one that looks right, Giron is a sniper from the days when digital images weren't free and film was expensive. He can get the shot with a single tap of his finger.


Giron (front) with Kim Curtin and the writers from Team PokerStars Blog as we help Stoddart test his lights for a portrait shoot (we're sober, by the way)

Together Giron and Stoddart work to make sure every important moment of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is recorded for history. They are the undisputed kings of poker photography. Their work is in demand anywhere poker tournaments happen. For the past several years, both men have been the chief photographers for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. If you saw a good photo from the PCA over the last few years, it almost certainly has Giron and Stoddart's fingers on it.

Back at the main event stage today, everyone is ready to get on with the business of making money.

"Last two," Stoddart calls. "Make your mother proud."

There's a double click, a double strobe, and then there's the shot of the final table. Satisfied, Stoddart lets the players go on about seeing who will win the $2 million today.