Here are some of the things that I was unaware of before the 2012 WSOP Main Event final table began, and some of the things I have come to realize as the final table unfolded over the course of Monday and Tuesday night.
Greg Merson is a really good poker player
I was aware of Greg Merson’s cash-game reputation after his win in the 6-Max event just before the Main Event got underway, but what I’ve seen of him now makes me think that Merson is just a really good poker player. If you need some stats before you buy what I’m selling here is Merson’s 2012 WSOP resume:
• $10k 6-Max NLHE Champion
• WSOP Main Event Champion
• 2012 WSOP Player of the Year
• 5 overall cashes including a third final table (where he finished 5th) at the 2012 WSOP
• Nearly $10 million in winnings at the 2012 WSOP
The Marathon final table seemed bad but may actually be good for poker
When I woke up on Wednesday and realized the final three were ALL still playing, I immediately thought that this was going to be the death-blow for poker on ESPN. But the more I thought about the more I realized that people waking up and putting on Sports Center, and instead of Steve Levy and Linda Cohn finding poker, may have been the best thing that ever happened! No matter how disinterested you are in poker, the sight of $8.5 million on a table while two players are at the tail-end of a 12-hour session probably sucked-in a lot of viewers… viewers who would never tune in to ESPN’s WSOP coverage on a Tuesday night.
Slow, deliberate play may kill televised poker
As much as I don’t like arguing for players to do something that is clearly negative EV for the sake of the TV cameras, the incredibly slow, deliberate play of some players is going to kill any chance poker has of going to the next level with the new “live” coverage with hole cards.
I’m not saying we need nine Rob Salaburu’s out there, but players using a similar speed to Greg Merson as opposed to Jesse Sylvia would be welcome.
The commentary team needs to utilize Olivier Busquet more
As much as I love the chemistry between Lon McEachern, Norman Chad, and Antonio Esfandiari, and applaud ESPN for adding Antonio over the past two years, the highlights of the commentary for me was when they also utilized a fourth talent, Olivier Busquet.
Busquet brings the purely analytical side of things to the commentary, and as an “At the top of his game” current player he does a great job of reading hands, bet-sizing, and so on. The four of them worked well together and with the amount of dead-air during a “live” televised poker hand there is definitely a spot for the fourth commentator.
Lon should call the action, Antonio can be the “pro”, Norman can be the “color guy”, and Busquet can be the sideline reporter of sorts (with a bigger role due to the slow nature of poker), called on to discuss specific scenarios.