The tables are turned this week on Poker After Dark as one of my favorite poker games takes place – one featuring those from the poker media. With legendary presenters Kara Scott and Ali Nejad, the commentator on these classic Poker After Dark episodes, there was always going to be drama. What’s great is that there’s an unexpected twist too – for Nejad himself to commentate on! We’re into Season 6 of this fantastic series, and with all seven seasons available at the click of a button via PokerGO, I’m hyped for what’s to come each week!
I’ve worked in poker for eight years now, and as you can imagine, have played quite a few of the media tournaments that often book-end poker festivals. They’re usually a ludicrous, yet fun mix of top pros and people who not only cover poker all day, but often commentate on it. The professionals are frequently happy to get busted as soon as possible, whereas for some of the media team, they’ve had to watch players make decisions all week that – in their head at least – they’d do differently. As a consequence, there’s a wildly different spirit to playing in such tournaments from the players.
One such media tournament took place in Ireland in 2012, and it was my first tournament that I’d covered. Somehow I had ended up presenting coverage of one of the biggest tournaments to hit Ireland in some years. There was a big guarantee, loads of famous players and plenty of Irish Open winners and luminaries from years gone by. Once the media tournament rolled around, everyone on the reporting side of things was asked in no uncertain terms to put their name down. There had been a group of tables reserved for the occasion and not taking part wasn’t an option. At the same time as us all being informed we were playing unless we’d like the order of our legs rearranged, some pros who’d busted the tournament earlier in the day were corralled.
I can only imagine the frame of mind someone is in after having missed out on a potentially vital five-figure sum of money, but I’m pretty certain that Jake Cody didn’t fancy being pulled away from his mates and a specially organised beer-and-pool tent which it was rumoured the youngster had insisted on being part of his rider. Those of you know Jake will likely suspect this wasn’t the case at all – as far as I know, he’s never ‘demanded’ anything, but players were bouncing straight from the poker to the pool table, playing for money. I saw a terrific game between Cody’s best mate Matt Perrins and snooker legend Ken Doherty which got so loud that players in the Main Event the other side of the enormous marquee couldn’t hear the player next to them announcing ‘all-in’.
When Cody was asked to take part in the media tournament with a bounty of $500 and a brand-new computer game console on his head just a few minutes after busting the Main, his interior voice may well have reached for four-letter words. Ever the gent, the consummate pro graciously said he’d love to and sat down in a 40-player tournament, at an eight-handed table.
I was at the same table.
I wanted to get hold of that added money and wouldn’t have minded the game console. But what I really wanted to do was knock out Cody, not least because I knew he’d probably be happiest if he could get back to the pool table without missing his turn. He’s one of the players I’ve met the most in poker and every time I’ve met him, I’ve enjoyed his company. It’s hard to. He has magnetism and charm about him which he’s almost completely unaware of. If he tried to be funny, if he acted cool, he’d probably fail miserably, but the way he doesn’t is precisely what makes him a great person to be around. I’ve seen Cody passionately explain how to play poker to a complete novice for nothing other than to put a smile on their face. I’ve also seen him playing his heart out at the table, desperate to win, yet happy to talk about anything and everything. He’s a big fan, so I know he’d see it as a compliment, but the guy is like a Disney character. He’s too wholesome for you ever to feel bad about winning. Even gambling $60,000 on the spin of a roulette wheel last year didn’t tarnish his reputation.
It was only a couple of hands in that I had my chance. Cody, in early position, raised big. I had AK-suited in middle position and had the easy re-raise all-in. I knew he’d call with worse, as he did with the off-suit J-Q (it’s a good-looking hand). But so too did two other players, the last with pocket sevens. If you can believe it, I paired both my ace and king yet still lost to the sevens. An elderly Irishman had some free money and a games console to put on eBay. Cody was happiest of all, beaming at the run-out which had made it almost impossible for him to survive.
How hard do the pros play against those in the poker media? Do they judge their play? You can see for yourself by watching this week’s classic Poker After Dark hand. As for Ali Nejad, he will have to get back to doing what he does best, which is bring next week’s Throwback Hand to such dramatic life. Subscribe now on PokerGO and you can watch every episode from every season of Poker After Dark and loads of other programmes, such as our exclusive PokerGO documentaries and the most recent World Series of Poker recaps. Players of any level will benefit, even those behind the camera or microphone.