Monday, 30th January 2023 08:09
Home / Poker / PCA/PSPC live stream: How the prodigious production is put together

PokerStars Blog is currently stationed at the Baha Mar Resort in the Bahamas where the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) is taking place, followed by the much-anticipated return of the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) next week. You’ll be happy to hear there’s going to be a PCA/PSPC live stream throughout both events.

Streaming begins tomorrow (January 25) with Day 2 of the $10,300 PCA Main Event, and that means efforts to get the stage, screens, lights, cameras et al ready for the 12:30 pm broadcast time are being significantly ramped up.

While hundreds of players stroll in and out of the enormous poker room, hundreds of TV crew members are working diligently to get everything set up in time. 

The pressure is on – particularly considering the enormity of the PSPC’s return – and it sure does get hot under those lights.

The good news is that the PokerStars TV team are the absolute best in the business. 

But just how many people does it take to put this spectacular show together? How far back did planning begin? How does the set find its way to the Bahamas? And how long does it take to put it all together?

Today we spent some time peeking behind the curtain to find out exactly what goes into running a production of such magnitude.

WHEN DID PLANNING BEGIN?

It all started 14 months ago, long before the event was publicly announced in April 2022. 

“Planning for the PCA/PSPC 2023 began back in November 2021,” says James Hartigan, the voice of PokerStars and the company’s Head of Editorial Content. “Those initial meetings included budgeting, forecasting what we’re going to make, hiring crew staff, etc.”

NUMBER OF TV CREW: 130 PEOPLE

Originally set to take place in Barcelona in 2020 before the pandemic turned plans upside down, the decision was made to send the PSPC back to the Bahamas where it broke records four years ago.

The only difference would be that this time, the festival would be taking place at a brand new venue. After 16 years at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, the PCA/PSPC 2023 moved to the fresh surroundings of the Baha Mar Resort, which only opened its doors in April 2017.

That meant an unfamiliar conference centre to host the poker and TV production. The crew–led by Associate Director of Creative and Content, Francine Watson–visited the Baha Mar Resort in February 2022 to scout the location and ensure it had everything PokerStars needed to put on the event, including enough space for a large TV stage and enough backstage areas for the 130 production staff to work their magic.

And for the next year, they got to work.

PSPC live stream

It takes 130 crew members to put together the PCA/PSPC live stream, from camera crew and editors to stage builders

TIME IT TAKES TO GET THE TV SET TO THE BAHAMAS: 3 MONTHS

The impressive TV set began its journey from the UK–where it was built–to the Bahamas all the way back in mid-November, 2022. 

It travels by sea freight, the only mode of transport suitable for such a gargantuan amount of gear.

The set being used here in the Bahamas is “Set A”, the larger of the two PokerStars TV sets and the one you’ll have seen at both EPT Monte Carlo and EPT Barcelona last year. “Set B” is used for events with smaller venues, such as EPT London back in October.

Now let’s fast forward to January 2023. 


MORE ABOUT THE PCA/PSPC:

COVERAGE HUB I RESULTS I PCA STATS I WHEN TO WATCH


TOTAL SET-UP TIME: ~90 HOURS

Stage builders for the TV crew are among the first PokerStars staff to arrive in the Bahamas, along with the events team and IT team. They’re the first here to greet the set upon its arrival, and the last to leave, lugging 16 gigantic containers one at a time out of the venue and back on the boat.

It’s estimated to take around 90 hours to get the custom-built set up and running in time for the maiden stream. Multiply that by the 130 crew members and that’s 11,700 hours of work across the entire team.

It takes around 90 hours to build the PokerStars stage

While the stage-building crew toil away, you’d be forgiven for thinking that hosts Hartigan and Joe Stapleton are off sunning themselves by the pool. But you’d be wrong.

Hartigan and Stapes have been busy filming fun footage that will air in between poker action when the production gets turned into TV shows, which go into post-production later this year.

“Yep, the comedy skits are returning…for better or worse,” says Hartigan. “There might be a sneak peek of them on the PCA/PSPC live streams too. There will certainly be a chance to see what happened when Joe and I decided to do flamingo yoga.”

Those skits then need to be edited, branded and sound mixed before they’re ready to air.

All footage is edited onsite ready for post-production

THE ANNOUNCER’S DESK

Due to the significance of the PCA/PSPC, this festival includes something that other PokerStars live events don’t: an announcers desk on which Hartigan and Stapes can bring the audience up to speed on events on and off the tables, alongside the commentary team and any special guests.

“The desk is there for the pre and post-game, like a broadcaster’s desk you’d see at an e-sports event, for example,” Hartigan says.

“We always open the show running through the facts and figures, but it’s much nicer to actually have a conversation between me, Joe and the commentary team, talking about the stories so far. It’s much better to see that than just having graphics onscreen. It’s an added extra for this event because it’s just so big and it’s such a great poker room to showcase.”

PSPC live stream

Crew set up the announcer’s desk at the PCA/PSPC

Every morning the TV department heads sit down for a meeting with the stream directors, editors, photographers, social media team, tournament directors, and your beloved PokerStars Blog writers, to hash out plans for the day.

The objective for everyone is simple: provide the best coverage of the festival possible.

NUMBER OF BROADCAST HOURS: ~100 HOURS

Hartigan estimates there will be 100 broadcast hours throughout the festival.

“And that’s just for the PCA/PSPC live stream,” he adds. “There are 18-20 TV shows produced from this one event, so that’s another 18-20 hours of content that comes off the back of that.”

For the TV team to accomplish the objective, there’s not only the feature table to worry about but also the secondary feature table and roaming camera crews who capture the action at the outer tables. 

PSPC live stream

The secondary feature table allows the team to provide more extensive coverage

When a tournament gets down to its business end, PokerStars doesn’t want viewers to miss a second of it. And thanks to the efforts of the TV team, they don’t.

“The whole thing is incredibly tough and very hard work, but obviously, it’s rewarding once it has finished,” says Hartigan. “For everyone working on this, nothing beats the thrill of live TV. Being in the moment. Being on air. Reacting to every situation.”

And all you have to do to enjoy it is click a few buttons.


You can watch every hair-raising moment from the PCA/PSPC live stream on either the PokerStars Twitch channel or PokerStars YouTube channel.

FULL PCA/PSPC LIVE STREAM SCHEDULE:

Wednesday, January 25th

PCA: $10K MAIN EVENT – DAY 2
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Thursday, January 26th

PCA: $10K MAIN EVENT – DAY 3
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Friday, January 27th

PCA: $10K MAIN EVENT – DAY 4
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Saturday, January 28th

PCA: $10K MAIN EVENT – DAY 5
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Sunday, January 29th

PCA: $10K MAIN EVENT – FINAL TABLE
13:00 ET (19:00 CET)

Monday, January 30th

PSPC – DAY 1
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Tuesday, January 31st

PSPC – DAY 2
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Wednesday, February 1st

PSPC – DAY 3
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Thursday, February 2nd

PSPC – DAY 4
12:30 ET (18:30 CET)

Friday, February 3rd

PSPC – FINAL TABLE
13:00 ET (19:00 CET)

Guiding you through the action will be commentators James HartiganJoe StapletonNick WalshMaria HoGriffin Benger and Scott Baumstein

Live streams with French, Spanish, Portuguese and German commentary will also be available.

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