Weekly Poker Update: April 26, 2021

Weekly Poker Update April 26, 2021

The biggest modern spike in interest in the world of poker undoubtedly came at the start of the 21st century, and a big part of that was the televised World Series of Poker productions on ESPN.

Since then, the network and the event have been inseparable, joining together for many forgettable moments over the past few decades. But that’s about to change thanks to this past week’s announcement that the event is now moving to CBS and its family of networks.

Hence, it is the end of an era in real money poker.


While some purists chafed at the heavily-edited, almost reality-show manipulation of the events that the “Sports Leader” presented, it can’t be denied that casual fans were brought in by the bushelful.

ESPN skillfully turned the WSOP into a drama, complete with heroes and villains, human interest stories, and upsets.

Apparently, it was time for a change in televised live poker. The timing was good, as this year’s event—although pushed back to September—is a return to the live action that was largely shelved a year ago. There will be a lot of questions asked from then to now about what’s to come, however.

First of all, it’s doubtful that we’ll see any WSOP action on the main CBS channel, but instead on CBS Sports Network. That means that the exposure will be somewhat limited to niche fans.

But it’s also most likely that the presence on the CBSN platform means much more programming devoted to the WSOP, perhaps to non-Main Event satellites and even perhaps to non-Hold’em battles, than ESPN had the space to give.

Presentation Is Everything

Another interesting question that remains to be seen is how the action is presented. For a long time, many hardcore players have clamored for the action to be shown as closely to how it actually transpires.

In other words, don’t just show the big hands, show the grind. This is what many casual fans overlook when it comes to the mental toughness of the players.

But you also have to consider that those same casual fans watching televised poker might not be too excited sitting through fold after fold until something happens. And there isn’t likely going to be a scenario where CBSN or one of its outlets just lets things unfold for hours on end like a live stream.

Lon McEachern and Norman Chad

There is a middle ground there somewhere; hopefully, CBSN and the other connected broadcast outlets can find it.

One thing that has to happen or else a risk could be run that fans and players mutiny: Lon McEachern and Norman Chad, longtime stewards of ESPN’s broadcasts, need to be a part of this. Chad missed last year’s event with illness.

As we said, very few details were announced other than the network switch. In the coming months, we should know a lot more about how the WSOP on CBSN is going to look. It won’t really be till lights, camera, action that we know exactly how this transformation is going to turn out for poker fans who love watching the biggest event in the sport each year.

Poker Coaching Comes Into the Spotlight

One of the interesting developments in the world of poker in recent years has been the rise in exposure of the poker coach. An article this week in CardPlayer.com about MJ Gonzales, who gained some renown recently due to his work with Daniel Negreanu, threw a spotlight on it.

Negreanu’s surprisingly stout effort against Doug Polk in their head-to-head matchup earlies this year was credited to some extent to Gonzales’ tutelage.

It’s an interesting phenomenon that most casual fans of the game might not even realize exists. When they see pros on television in action, making decisions on the fly about hands, they could possibly think that it’s automatic.

Perhaps they just believe that the experience these players have gained from years playing the game make everything automatic for them.

Maybe there was a time when that was the case. But like so much else in the modern world, analytics has moved into the world of poker in a major way. As a result, players need to sometimes step back for a bit and tune up their game, and that’s where coaches like Gonzales come into play.

Even the Pros Can Use Help Sometimes

In the case of Negreanu, he was much more comfortable playing tournament style Hold’em than the multihand, online head-to-head action he had to endure with Polk.

Although Polk still won by a sizable margin, the general consensus was that Negreanu acquitted himself very well against an opponent with a sizable edge. Even as one of the most decorated pros of all time, Kid Poker knew he needed to get some assistance.

Knowing that pros are willing to get help for their games, it is something that recreational, amateur, or even budding pro poker players should take to heart. Some might think that they can get away with knowing which hole-card combinations are worth betting to start and then going by feel from there.

Pro Poker Player MJ Gonzales

But the coaching that the pros receive, and the work that they do on their own, reduces their possibilities of making ill-advised mistakes a great deal.

In addition, the coaching can help players focus on what is going on in a hand around them without having to worry about statistics and likelihoods. By knowing the analytics of each hand, players can essentially have decisions made for them simply because of the circumstances of pot size, stack size, other players’ cards, etc.

Having all that information already locked away in the brain means that it’s much easier for adjustments to be made.

It’s not to say that the top pros don’t have ability in the game that can’t be coached. But it’s a good lesson that there is enough of a market for coaches like Gonzales that he doesn’t even need to play to make a major living.

If the pros are seeking help for their games, you shouldn’t be afraid to do so either.