LAS VEGAS -- Greg Merson and Ryan Riess sat across from each other at the ESPN featured table on Day 1A of the 2014 World Series of Poker Main Event.
On Day 1B, Huck Seed and Dan Harrington sat at the exact same table.
The odds that two Main Event champions would draw the same table on the first day of the tournament are pretty small. The odds that it would happen again the next day are microscopic. And the odds that, both times, the Main Event champions paired with each other won the tournament in back-back-to-back years (Merson and Riess won in 2012 and 2013, while Harrington and Seed won in 1995 and 1996)? I'm calling a conspiracy.
In all seriousness, though, my beef with what happened -- or better yet, what hasn't happened -- so far in the tournament has been the lack of TV cameras rolling. There have been players at the ESPN featured table (and secondary featured tables) every day except for Day 3, but the cameras won't start recording until Friday, the start of Day 4.
Televised poker appeals to a wide variety of viewers, who watch the game to see different things and for very different reasons. I consider myself among the 99th percentile of potential poker viewers -- that is, I'm fully educated on the game, and what I really want to see is intriguing play by top professionals.
Unfortunately, tournaments don't always lend themselves to that kind of televised poker experience. The Main Event has one of the best structures around, but by the time Day 4 hits, it isn’t nearly as deep as the early stages. Most of the lines players take -- though certainly not all -- are fairly standard. And the further the tournament goes, the shorter the stacks become relative to the blinds.
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.