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Poker Stats to Improve Televised Poker
Poker has gone really big on TV since 2003. But the version of poker we see on TV is skewed.
What we see on poker TV doesn’t much resemble what we’re used to from our own games. In fact, it’s a completely different animal.
TV shows have a limited time slot, plus they need to fit in the commercials. If you can only show seven or eight hands from a long tournament, of course it’s going to be big all in confrontations, well known players being eliminated after a bad beat and quite possibly the last hand of the event.
Viewers get to see absolutely nothing of the in-between hands that go raise-reraise-fold or check-bet-fold or bet-call, bet-call, bet-call.
Viewers don’t have access to the large amount of previous action that is vital to understand the decisions being made all the time.
Right now, pot control isn’t being popularized. Building stack is not a concept that works well in short episodes. Balance your three bets and you’ll be cut out of the TV hands.
How can you change this and give viewers access to the bigger picture? The true picture of poker?
Live streams are perfect – for nerds
One possibility is the live streams that are offered in connection with some live events. For poker aficionados, this is great, great poker TV even though you don’t get to see the hole cards.
But for the general public this won’t work at all. It would be like watching these mysterious three-day cricket matches. You have no idea what these guys are doing out here all that time, not to mention the people in the stands.
When ESPN shows the WSOP Main Event over 38 episodes or so, that’s obviously an effort to cover more than the wildest action. And still, not really. Fact is, the main event is so huge that you still can’t cover any one player for a long, unbroken streak of hands.
So what’s to do? Use the poker stats!
Poker stats are the missing piece
With today’s technology you could record everything that goes on at the tables. Each and every bet, every call, every fold. The amounts and percentages of all calls and all plays.
You could show the viewers all kinds of stats about the players at the table. How many hands has this player played so far, how many has that other player raised out of the position he’s in? The third player, how often has she flat called a pre-flop raise in late position?
How often does the original bettor continue bet on the flop? How often does the opponent re-raise or fold after a continuation bet?
By showing players’ VPIP/PFR, percentage of hands won without showdown and so on, you’d move some weight away from the lottery like all-in situations to the studied, long term strategy that lies beneath all that.
Statistics very natural in poker
Other TV sports make a big thing of the various game statistics, why not poker? After all, poker players are notorious number crunchers.
No other gamers that I know of have the kind of scientific tools at hand when playing as do poker players.
Poker TV would still mostly show all in confrontations and big pots, due to the time restraints. But if you garnish the exposition with in-depth stats and a cunning analysis of these, viewers would get that other dimension of poker that’s gone missing in today’s televised poker.
Then people back home would realize Texas Holdem is a fine, fine strategy game.