EPT Barcelona: Perils of the press

September 04, 2009

In one corner of the casino a small cinema shows a series of short films, each involving a ball rolling around a roulette wheel and landing on a number. One person in the audience tends to like the ending, but rarely the next. In the other corner of the casino is the gradually diminishing tournament area, packed with press and TV cameras with little room to move, stand or see. Whether it’s roulette or the EPT action, you can find it somewhere on the big screen. That hasn’t stopped over a hundred railbirds and the members of the media trying to get as close to the action as they can.

One table getting this treatment is that of Luca Pagano. The Team PokerStars Pro is used to the attention, shaking hands mid-play with a couple of TV guys on a reconnaissance mission as another camera is rooted in the ground nearby, the lens focusing in close on the Italian. It’s all part of the modern game.

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Some players are happy to oblige

Not that it suits everyone. One player gets out of his seat, looks down on a short member of the press and asks why he is standing behind him, always in the same place, “why not there, there or there? Not inside my head!” he pleads, pointing in all directions, before the press man apologises and sheepishly moves on, a photographer unable to speak English taking his spot immediately.

To survive in the tournament environment these photographers have to balance getting good shots with the private space of the player. While the likes of Neil Stoddart provide perfect images often without the player without even noticing, some have dodgy internal radars that don’t warn them when they’ve crossed the line. A sophisticated degree of stealth is essential.

It’s been known for a camera to be thrust between the heads of two players to get a shot of someone on the opposite side of the table, firing off the flash, irritating everyone. Then the most memorable; the image of a player all-in, standing and leaning forward on the table, a small pocket camera emerging from between his arms, a heroic reckless snapper creeping around his feet, oblivious to the rules of engagement.

Some players like the attention; others prefer to avoid the limelight entirely. Work out which ones are which and everything will be fine.

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