Going over your resume we have to ask, when do you find time to use the restroom? It’s usually during breaks when we’re taping The Big Game. (laughs) Actually I’m thinking of attaching a colostomy bag to save time. (laughs) It’s been a little busy but it’s great work, and as long as my bosses aren’t listening I’ll admit I have the best job going.
How does commentating for poker differ from baseball and football for you? Poker is not a live event. We did a few of them on FSN and I think we realized it just doesn’t have the drama as when you’re doing edited down versions of the game. … It’s tedious work in the sense that the guys at the table, whether it’s Daniel (Negreanu) or Phil Hellmuth or Phil Laak or Tony G, any of those guys can shine at any time. They are the superstars and you want them to be heard above you. The key is dancing around the little conversations and the quips that they’ll say while at the table. It’s a trying voiceover session. Whereas when you’re doing baseball and football, it’s happening right in front of you. … You’re driving the action along with what’s happening on the field. That’s the biggest difference.
You’ve worked on a lot of poker shows, but how often do you get a chance to play? Well, I’m the father of two young boys, so once I put them down to bed I will occasionally dabble. (laughs) I’ll hop on to PokerStars and do my thing. I’m not going to give you my screen name because I am NOT good. (laughs) I want my kids to go to college; I want to keep that money; I don’t want you guys taking it all. (laughs)
The easy answer here is The Big Game, but what was your favorite poker show to host and why? The two I’ve done most recently have been great. The Big Game is actually my first experience at calling a cash game, which is so different from tournament poker. And I love the idea of a “Loose Cannon.” I love an amateur getting a chance to be staked $100K and perhaps change the way they live their life. I think that’s really cool. And that’s why I loved doing the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge. … Last year we had a guy who was a 9-11 hero … who won a million dollars. How can you not feel good about that?
Has being a poker commentator helped your poker game? I thought so until last night. (laughs) Then it was a struggle. Yes, I have gotten better. … I don’t have time to go play live, unfortunately, so when I play online some jokers are calling with some serious junk. And now I know why Phil Hellmuth goes cuckoo. (laughs) I’m like ‘You stuck around with that?’ (laughs) I get it, I understand it. It hurts when someone is calling me with 10-3 offsuit after I make a sizeable bet. Whatever! (laughs)
Why haven’t you signed with one of the online poker rooms to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event? It’s a good question. My guess is once they saw my poker skills that they would figure it would be the worst $10K they ever spent in their lives. (laughs) … As long as I don’t want to see one of those high-priced divorce lawyers coming my way I think I’ll sit this one out. But it’s a good question. (laughs)
Do you the need to be a poker expert to be a poker commentator? No. Do you have to have a good knowledge of what’s going on? My job is to call the play by play. So as long as I’m calling the right bets, raises, reraises, what’s out there on the board, that’s my job. The analyst has to know what they’re talking about.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on these shows; is there a moment that stands out? Well, the first week of The Big Game I thought Phil Hellmuth was either going to (a.) punch Tony G in the face or (b.) start crying. (laughs) It’s one thing to lose chips in a tournament. As we all know, Phil Hellmuth is not an expert cash-game player. It’s not his forte. The guy has 11 World Series of Poker bracelets for a reason. He’s arguably the best tournament player we’ve ever seen. But when it comes to cash games it’s a different story. Tony G, in the middle of the week, just started crushing him. Saying, ‘Phil, I can’t believe you’re playing those hands. It’s an embarrassment. You’re a professional!’ And Phil’s just sitting there; he looks like a sixth-grader curled up in his chair. And he’s going, ‘Tony, just shut up! You’re not even in this hand! Shut up, Tony!’ And these guys just kept going back and forth. It was a thing of beauty.
You mentioned the “Loose Cannon,” who is staked by Stars. How intimidated are these players? The first week Earnest Wiggins was intimidated. He got huge hands early on and did virtually nothing with them. … You can understand the nerves. Throw on top of it, probably never having been in a television setting before, it can be difficult. It’s a challenge.
When you took your first broadcasting job way back when, did you ever envision you’d someday be interviewing a priest on a show like Million Dollar Challenge? Oh yeah, of course I would have figured that. (laughs). I was disappointed during Weeks 2 and 3 we didn’t have a rabbi and the Dalai Lama. (laughs) That’s what we’re going to try to work into Season 2 when it comes back this fall. We want to cover the whole religious gamut.