So having watched the WSOP on ESPN for a good number of years now, it's extremely interesting to actually be a reporter at the tournament and watching the event be caught on tape. Since the Main Event started three days ago, about a dozen ESPN crews have been roaming the halls and crowding the tables. They're getting the footage that will one day be used on TV, and that I'll probably watch, just as I have for the past few years.
Seeing how poker is captured on tape is pretty interesting. It didn't really click for the first day of the Main Event that this was the important coverage that would soon be spliced together and shown on primetime. Sure, the majority of what is shown on TV is from the ESPN Featured Table - which by now I'm very used to seeing in action - but the crews that troll the 300 tables on the main floor are also responsible for a lot of what we see on TV, and how that is captured is pretty strange, yet impressive.
I suppose that if you've ever been on a reality TV show, being filmed for the WSOP isn't a very unique experience. There's a book microphone right above your head, a camera in your face, and you're expected to play world class poker, ham it up for the cameras, and all the while pretend that this is a completely normal thing for you. Some players - like Kenna James - seem to relish the spotlight. One moment he was singing in the middle of a hand, and once the cameras turned off he was skulking with his hand over his face.
James is often a character at the tables. I've never heard him sing, but the dude will often gab incessantly. Most players, however, are markedly more reserved. I watched crews stand fixed on both Jennifer Harman and Antonio Esfandiari, only to capture bitter silence. Even though they're the famous ones, there's nothing more un-fit for TV than dead air. With that in mind, the camera crews take full advantage of the fact that everyday there are over 2,000 unknown hopefuls who will do just about anything to have 15 seconds of fame.
If you want to get on TV, and your chip stack might not be attracting that much attention, there are a few things that increase your chances. Weird hats are helpful. Funny shirts are good. Funky sunglasses are pretty played out. Eye patches are a must. Basically, anything that makes you stand out in a crowd will work. But what the camera crews want to see more than anything is attitude. Copping a 'tude is a surefire way to get yourself on TV. Celebrate like a wide receiver or pout like a baby and an ESPN crew is sure to find you in a hurry.