We asked two legendary poker players if they think televised poker is good for the game? “People have learned about me from watching poker on TV, but I’ve also learned about myself”

Full Tilt pros Eli Elezra and Erik Seidel line up to argue their side of the fence


In the old days nobody appreciated me playing poker. It looked bad and people thought the game was for guys without class. But since playing on TV I’ve become a star. Now I’m viewed in the same light as an attorney or physician. After I won my first tournament on TV, my life changed; I became a known face. And I’ve travelled to 20 countries I would never have normally visited – beautiful places like New Zealand and Australia.

TV also brings a lot of new faces into the poker rooms. People watch the shows and get inspired. There are so many fish, so many wannabes, so many who strive to be players. That brings more money to the table and increases the dead money in tournaments.

I’ve been on High Stakes Poker a lot and I’m presented as a big bluffer on the show. So now people love to go after me and I just have to wait patiently and trap. It takes more work for me to find my spots and capitalise on my image. But it’s nice to have opponents calling me when I’ve got good hands.

People have learned about me from watching poker on TV, but I’ve also learned about myself. I record the shows, spot my tells and fix them. During the first year or two of High Stakes Sammy Farha was the big bluffer and the big bull. But by year three I was able to push in $150k on a bluff against him. People ask me how I can do that. It’s from watching poker on TV.


Poker is a game of information. Play on television and you give out free information. I know that whenever I play in a televised tournament, I wonder whether or not I want to make a particular play and have everybody see it. It’s going to limit the play’s effectiveness in the future. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I know that I’ve spent years developing my strategies, and now people can sit at home, watch TV and figure them out. Partly as a result of this, the entire world has got better at poker. And that makes my job harder.

The other thing I don’t like is that TV has created an imbalance. People who do nothing but play well are thought of entirely differently from the ‘entertainers’. The attention-whores raise their profiles so high that really good players, like Allen Cunningham, get lost in the shuffle.
Now you have people creating ridiculous clown acts and drawing the camera’s attention. People are willing to sacrifice integrity for fame. Hevad Khan is a good example of that: he made the final table, jumped all over the place, acted like a monkey, and got signed to a site. He benefited from acting like a goofball. Then you have a guy like Joe Cassidy. He plays well and acts like a gentleman but remains unrecognised. All of that is generated by TV, and it offends my sensibilities.

If you want to improve your poker game then try reading a FREE DIGITAL copy of PokerPlayer magazine HERE

Pin It

Comments are closed.