PCA 2012: Lights, cameras and keep out of shot

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The Super High Roller began rolling yesterday in the plush confines of a private room, carpeted, cordoned off and with a well-stocked bar, the familiar din of conversation between 30 players used to taking each other on in the richest environments.

But today they switch to new environment, the television one, swapping shag pile for show business as the television cameras are fired up for the first time. Ironically this has the effect of speeding things up while slowing things down at the same time; as crew rush around to get everything working in unison, and then realise there was too much to get sorted before the scheduled start time and it was hopeless to even try.

Looking around though it's not hard to see how tough a job this is.

With the cameras rolling, and the vast army of technicians, engineers and crew behind the scenes, the stage is always busy, never less so that in the minutes prior to the start.

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Cameras in action

As a breed high stakes poker players don't really work to order. In their natural environment there is no need for a 9am start, nor polyester work shirts and homemade lunches. Instead they wander into the tournament room, a little lost looking, wearing flip flops, sucking on Jamba juice and talking to each other about a hand. It's a right that is automatically granted when you pay $100,000 to play.

Herding them is the responsibility of the floor manager, no easy task, especially with voices in your earphones making constant demands, all of which are time sensitive. It's why, when they ask you to get out of shot as you absent-mindedly walk on stage, you run out of shot. You do not walk.

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Sound men in action

The slow bit comes when play actually starts. With so many things to choreograph a TV crew will add minutes to each break. Then there are interviews to carry out, hands to record from every conceivable angle, easy to spot by the team of pike men, burly sound men able to hold aloft a microphone on a stick continuously for several minutes at a time; followed by their camera'd cousins who film it all.

Someday soon editors will put all this together seamlessly, and the show you'll see on television will betray none of the vigour that went into capturing it.

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Crew snapping into action

The end product is always worth it. The stage here looks fantastic, a mixture of purple and turquoise lighting that glows in the faces of the bank of spectators. All this needs now is a winner, and before that a final eight to return tomorrow. Of course then the environment will change again, as several hundred main event players take their seats for Day 1A.