Ryan Spittles: TV time!

Last month I told you all about my first trip to Las Vegas and I left the blog on the eve of my first guest appearance on Sky Poker TV.

It seems obvious to say, but nerves were a major issue! I was really pleased that I was on a show with Richard Orford and Tony ‘Tikay’ Kendall, not just because they are old hands at this, but I had also met them a few times at Sky Poker Tour events.

The date was set for the August 28 2011, and the plan was to talk through the hands taking place in two of the flagship tournaments on the site that night, as well as looking at some cash tables.

It was my first time doing anything like this, my only previous experience on TV was ringing into a competition CBBC when I was seven and getting stage fright. I didn’t say a word to Emma Forbes when I finally got through! 

My first impressions of the Sky complex near Heathrow was that it was HUGE. I got into makeup (as always very much needed) and then had a quick chat to the producer, Rich and Tikay about what to expect. Then we went into the studio, which was in one of the older parts of the complex and is now knocked down. It was tiny – like a messy old shed! Thankfully the show bosses have secured a much better and more modern new home since.

As soon as the show went live I didn’t really feel that nervous, but looking back I very clearly was as I couldn’t stop talking or playing with my hands! The time seemed to fly by and I realised how grateful I was to get paired with Rich and Tikay. They really are pros at presenting and they made me feel so much more comfortable being there.

When I got home the first thing I did was read the interactive live show thread that we have on SkyPoker.com for every live show, and it was such a huge confidence boost to read so many nice things being said by both random strangers and well known players from the site too. If you’re interested then here is the link – http://bit.ly/1ecOOIB

I really enjoyed my time on the show but in my head I thought that would be that and if I was lucky maybe I’d get asked back in six months or so. I was focusing on playing online cash games at the £50nl/£100nl levels with the occasional live tournament for Team Sky Poker (TSP). Even two and a half years ago the UK poker calendar was a lot different and big live events were more of a monthly affair rather than the weekly/fortnightly occurrence they are now.

The SPT Grand Final at Dusk Till Dawn was one of my TSP events and it was a great chance to catch up with some friends and have a bit of a laugh – plus the opportunity to take down the title and the money! It was also my first taste of being ‘recognised’ with a few people coming up to me and saying well done on the guest appearance a few weeks back.

While I was at the bar Claire (the head of the channel) asked for a quiet word. She told me that she had big plans for a change of direction for Sky Poker TV, and that the TSP guest host spots were a kind of audition for future analysts – myself and Redmond Lee being the front candidates. I hadn’t seen or spoken to anyone from the TV team (bar a few emails) since my appearance, so it all came as a huge, huge shock! Of course I said I was interested, in the back of my mind I was apprehensive but I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.

A couple of weeks later it was all confirmed and had a pretty informal meeting with Claire and Redmond in the Sky canteen where she took us all through our role, responsibilities and the actual contract itself. Everything was good and a couple of hours later I jumped right into another live show with Sarah Champion and Tikay, where I was given a talkback earpiece and control of the clicker which played the hand graphics.

Claire then got in touch with an offer of my first shows as the proper analyst, at the start of January on back to back nights. Originally I was pretty anxious and made an excuse but thankfully Claire told me to stop being so silly and she had booked me in anyway so I’d better be there! They went well and I was full of confidence.

The channel was going through a transformation process with a new format, different days to air, a brand new studio/set and of course four new analysts in myself, Redmond Lee, Stuart Rutter and the incredible Jen Mason (who joined a couple of months later). We had a few days of rehearsals to get used to the new set which was especially helpful to me being new. It was simple things like getting to know the team, believe it or not 15 backroom staff are needed for each show to go ahead!

If you haven’t seen Sky Poker TV yet then check it out live on Sky Channel 861 on Tuesday’s, Thursday’s and Sunday’s from 7pm. My next show is with Laura Cornelius on Sunday March 16, so feel free to email or tweet in any questions/comments!

Ryan Spittles is a professional poker player and an analyst on Sky Poker TV channel 861.

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