How Live Coverage is Redefining Poker Strategy

There was once a time when watching poker meant guessing what players were holding.

If a player made a big fold, or a strange bet, the viewer, and players, were left wondering what they might have had.

Then hole cards were introduced and more information was available to players than ever. 

But considering poker events generally aired months after they were played, this never directly affected the game itself. At least not the tournament that was being filmed at the time.

However, with the advent of live streams and even live television broadcasts, the media coverage is playing more of a role in poker than ever.

Brian Roberts
Brian Roberts

“You definitely have to check out your opponent’s hole cards when you can in those situations,” poker pro Brian Roberts of 2 Months 2 Million fame told us.

“Everybody does that. No one should lie about it!”

New Era of Poker Coverage

When televised poker first started including hole cards, there were many old school poker pros who thought it would ruin the game.

It seems they were more worried about divulging their secret strategies and likely couldn’t even fathom that you could know what an opponent had in that big pot just a few orbits prior.

Dan Heimiller
Dan Heimiller

“I had a situation at a WSOP final table that was streamed where my friends told me they were trying to text me player’s hands after I had played big pots,” Dan Heimiller reflected.

“Of course, it’s a little delayed, but if I had have seen those messages it would have been a big insight for that final table.”

“The flipside is that people are probably finding out what my hands are, so it would be nice if I found out their’s too.”

If Heimiller makes the final table of the $25,000 High Roller or the Main Event down at WSOP APAC, he will be faced with live streaming and a 30-minute delayed live broadcast on ESPN.

“I would obviously like to use that to my advantage, but the problem here in Australia is that my phone doesn’t work, so I can’t have people telling me opponent’s hole cards!”

There would be some who think this changes the game completely. In a sense it does. At a normal table on Day 2 of an event, there is no way to find out what your opponent folded.

More Information in Live Poker Than Ever

Then, at a final table that’s being broadcast with a slight delay, players suddenly have access to this extra information.

Australian WSOP bracelet winner Aaron Lim doesn’t think this is a problem though.

“I’m sure most players at a final table would check what their opponents had in past hands,” Lim said. “But In terms of someone getting an edge on someone else, it’s a fair field. Anyone can do it so it’s all even in that sense.”

Aaron Lim
Aaron Lim

There are some players who might let slightly delayed coverage of their hole cards affect them, but Roberts isn’t one of those players.

"If you are at a final table, stakes are usually too high to be worrying about the hole cards, thinking ‘I really don’t want people to see that I pull this move here’,” Roberts said.

"You just gotta play as good as possible. There are some people that might level themselves seeing all the hole cards. You just can't be a player with too many emotions and feelings. You just have to pretty much play like a robot.

If what Roberts is saying is true, then live poker with hole cards showing could be compared to online poker.

Players could have friends at home recording all the same information that an online HUD shows.

You could then be at a final table and have friends sending your opponent’s stats to you and use that information accordingly. 

Some player’s may not like it, others may love it. Regardless, that’s how poker is in 2014 and it’s not likely that will change any time soon.

The 2014 WSOP APAC Main Event and the $25K High Roller will be live streamed and air on ESPN with a 30-minute delay – the first time an event in Australia has featured this kind of live coverage. 

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