"2008 World Series Of Poker"
NOVEMBER 9 "The Preview Show"
It is human drama at its finest! Such was the approach of ESPN’s telecast of the November Nine!
At the top of the show was a deep voice with gold picture frames around the participants, bordered by stars that said: “They are known as The November
Nine, and tonight their lives will change forever! The stakes are at their highest on poker’s biggest stage, where one mistake, one missed opportunity….
could cost you $9,000,000 in cash. Who will win the most coveted jewel in the game?” With this compelling narrative the editing was terrific with the Las
Vegas Strip, the Final Table, and the prestigious WSOP gold bracelet flashing in and out with great graphics.
The announcing team of Lon McEachern and Norman Chad opened the show to set the stage. These two have chemistry working together on ESPN all
year long on each and every episode. About two years ago at the WSOP I got the opportunity to talk to each one, and they couldn’t have been more
personable. Each expressed their admiration for the job Mike Sexton does for the World Poker Tour, and have noticed the chemistry Mike and Vince Van
Patton exude working together. Lon and Norman have their own unique style of calling WSOP poker tournaments, and their approach is always entertaining
for the audience. You might be hard pressed to name another two person team of announcers other than these two teams, who have been leading the way
for several years now. Remember though, Mike and Vince have always had a few months of editing time to put the show together, while in the 2008 Main
Event final table……. both Lon and Norman, as well as the entire ESPN staff, would be hard pressed around the clock from Nov 9th through Nov. 11th to put
on a historical presentation of what happened to the November Nine. This marathon effort needs to be appreciated by the poker industry and all of its fans,
as it ended up in same day coverage once down to the last two players.
Since this article is about that special one hour lead-in to the historical two hour coverage of the 2008 WSOP Main Event, let us pick it up with Lon and
Norman giving the audience the chip counts of the November Nine before play resumed after a four month wait: Lon begins the telecast with “Hello
everyone…I’m Lon McEachern along with Norman Chad and welcome to the World Series of Poker in the final table preview show. It was back in early July
when nearly 7,000 players took to the felt in the 2008 Main Event. Now Norman……almost four months later, we’re down to a mere nine.” Norman
responds, “And that means our finalists will have had a 117 days to over think and stress out over this final table.” Lon says “Over this next hour we will be
meeting with some of poker’s biggest stars to learn more about the November Nine, but first let’s take a look at the current chip count and Norman it is
headed by Dennis Philips.”
he outstanding coverage ESPN did in covering the November Nine the hour
before the two hour telecast of the 2008 WSOP Main Event is worthy to re-
examine. If you were at a Casino the dialogue was either muted or hard to
hear if a party was going on.
For me, I was announcing a WSOP Circuit Final Table at Harvey’s Casino in
Lake Tahoe, and only got glimpses of this special hour introduction of the nine
players on several big TV screens, as the sound was muted to preserve the
rooms other tournament being played at the time. The 2008 Main Event Final
Table would follow on ESPN in a two hour historical broadcast billed as same
day coverage for the last two players remaining.
Later, when I returned from Lake Tahoe I sat down and watched the recorded
one hour preview ESPN presented that gave an inside look at the nine finalists
and poker history highlights along the way. I enjoyed it immensely and found
myself watching the one hour preview show several times. I personally always
enjoy that part of the Olympics where the inside story of the great athletes and
the obstacles they had to overcome to get there are highlighted.
|Chad Norman with his TV partner Lon McEachem
ESPN then cut to a panel of four, which included their two commentators talking with two of our best pros in the business: Phil Hellmuth and Daniel
Negreanu. Let’s pick up the broadcast from this point, as Lon McEachern leads off with: “We mentioned the long layoff for the November Nine. The Final
Table also has a new location this year in the spectacular Penn & Teller Theatre. Will those factors affect play at the Final Table? We brought in a couple
of poker experts to talk about that: 11 time bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu, who won his 4th bracelet at this year’s World Series. Lon
says, “Phil…..we’re going to start with you. You’re in the world’s biggest poker tournament…..getting near the end….they say time out. Come back in 4
months….How do you deal with that? Phil responds, “Well, I mean I love it. I think it is great for poker. I think it is great for the poker players. The guys who
made it down there have been able to sign these incredible deals….six figure deals, where people are getting paid $250,000 or more to wear a logo. They
are going on talk shows. They are getting recognition all over the world. Some of the players….it’s interesting…. Some are falling out of form and some are
peeking, so it favored some – hurt others.” Chad Norman then asked Daniel Negreanu, “Daniel, some of the players say they are going to shift their style at
this Final Table. Why change what has been working so well?” Daniel answered, “Well, the thing is everyone is going to be able to see the way that they
were playing on the ESPN shows, so you’re going to have to (change styles). A lot of the plays you might have gotten away with. Now they are going to be
out there for everyone to see. For example, if Deminov was caught bluffing on television all the time, he is going to have to change his game and play
accordingly. Every one of these guys are going to have to study, and if they don’t they are being foolish. The one thing I will say about this Final Table that
will be different than any other is the fact that the level of play should be more sophisticated than any final table in history, because all of these guys have
had 4 months to prepare for exactly what they need to do. Everyone should be fresh, prepared, and ready to play.” Norman Chad looks at Phil Hellmuth
now and asks “Speaking of preparation Phil, let me put you in the mind of Dennis Phillips for a moment. He is the chip leader. He is an amateur. What is he
going to do…what is he thinking?” Phil was quick to respond, “Well, I know he is getting lessons from one of the players out there right now and that was a
good move. But what he supposed to be thinking is I have a massive chip lead. I need to make the final three players. Last year we saw an implosion of
record proportion when the chip leader just went crazy and blew all of his chips with second pair and a draw. It was ridiculous and it was horrible! I mean
anyone with any experience wouldn’t have done that, and so he has to make sure he is not that guy in 2008! (In 2007, Phil Hellmuth was referring to Philip
The expert analysis by Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu in the opening panel discussion on ESPN was excellent. Lon McEachern took us next to the first
memorable moment in WSOP history that was featured on the ESPN preview show. Lon said, “The winner of this year’s event will walk away with over
$9,000,000, a hefty payday, but not the biggest in WSOP history. That came in 2006 when Jamie Gold won $12,000,000, and that is the subject of our first
When we pick up our story in Part 2 we will start with Jamie Gold capturing the title in 2007, and the whirlwind of interviews the 2008 chip leader enjoyed and
some of his experiences he found himself in, as the 2008 WSOP Main Event chip leader. We will follow the things the other final table participants did while
going through that four month waiting period as well. There was one particular interesting hand Scott Montgomery found himself involved in with 21 players
left that changed the dynamics of who made the 2008 Final Table. This was the hand Michelle Tiffany called the clock on one of the players that caused a
bit of controversy. Stay tuned for Part 2…………
The Cab Is Parked,
|(Left) The NOVEMBER NINE, followed by professional poker players & espn commentators Daniel Negreanu & Phil Hellmuth JR.
This article though is about the November Nine as presented by ESPN several times, including the hour before the two hour broadcast of the 2008 Final
Table. We will review the background of the players, the comments by the expert pros, the analysis of the ESPN commentators, some of the memorable
highlights from the past that were highlighted, key hands by a few of the players that helped them make this historic Final Table, and some of the interesting
things that happened to the November Nine during their 4 month wait to play it out.
To continue our recap of ESPN’s preview coverage Norman commented, “The truckee manager, Dennis Phillips, finds himself in the driver’s seat with
$26,000,000 in chips, but the young guns are lurking: Ivan Deminov, Scott Montgomery, and 22 year old Peter Eastgate, who is looking to become the
youngest Main Event Champion ever!” Lon added, “Ian Schwartz and Darus Suharto are in the middle of the pack with David “Chino” Rheem in 7th and
Craig Marquis in 8th place. Kelly Kim is in 9th place with the short stack and you can watch the Final Table unfold tonight at 9:00 PM EST on ESPN
|THIS WEEKS POKER TRIVIA QUESTION # 20
(the answer will be given next week in our Poker Trivia Page)
Today we know Peter Eastgate is the youngest player to ever win the WSOP Main Event at age 22. He surpassed 23 year old Phil Hellmuth
when he won the 1989 WSOP. This week's trivia question is: Who was the youngest to win the WSOP Main Event before Phil, and what age
was he when he won the Main Event Title?