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Old 11-02-05, 10:13 AM
GrimJack GrimJack is offline
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Default Observations on the 2003 WSOP on ESPNClassic

I am going to post this on another site as well, but I know not everyone reads all the sites, and I thought it was a good topic of conversation for a poker group. Also I was wondering if anyone else noticed the same things I do...So if this is not permitted, please delete. It is a very long post, so be warned...

I have been watching as they have been re-airing the 2003 WSOP (the year Moneymaker won) on ESPN Classic. People might want to watch, because the episodes are a little different than I remember. Perhaps they have been re-edited? Or maybe I just didn't see the whole thing the first time around. Also ESPN has a way of editing if a show comes on following the end of a live covered event.

First, all the episodes are now 1 hour long. I believe they were 45 minutes or 50 minute episodes when they first ran. I remember thinking when I originally saw them that it was an odd program length. I did get Tivo for the first time that year and remember the odd duration shows in the otherwise perfectly aligned schedule. Someone mentioned that this was the first year poker became big and ESPN was going to add these as fillers when live sporting events ran over. Maybe, but either way, I have noticed a few other things of interest.

1) In the first episode of the 2003 series, you can clearly see Norm Chad sitting behind the rail from Doyle Brunson all the while he is supposedly in the booth doing live play by play. I always figured thw announcers were after-recorded, by the speed of how they talk and come up with witty commebts, but that is OK because a lot of sporting events like golf, NASCAR and the like are 'announced' after the fact. But here you have confirmation.

2) I always thought they gave Varkonyi too hard a time. Always refering to him with disdain as "last years fluke winner." Norm Chad's condescending and snippy comments, I always thought, were kind of uncalled for. He was almost joyous when Varkonyi busted out in 2003. But I can also see how historically, at least in 2003, it was unknown for a rank amateur to get in there and win over a professional player. For the times, I guess the comments made sense. But since 2003 saw Moneymaker win and the WPT has had more than a few rank amateurs win, history caught up and made Chad's comments even more blistering. In the first episode of the series, they went back and also added a lot of explanation to Chad's comments and softened them quite a bit. They now explain that it is uncommon for an amateur to win...and on and on, and soften up the dead money comments.

3) In the second episode, I remember the Phil Hellmuth/Sam Grizzle needling and them making some brief comment about them getting into a fist fight. This time they actually explained that it happened at the Horseshoe and Sam won despite Phil being a bigger guy. I would love to know more details about this.

4) In the second episode, they also capture the comments of the players when the broadcast booth hears Sam call Phil a "whiney b-s-a-d who catched cards" You can hear Chad's laugh a little louder and Lon McEachern say something like, "You have to be careful with how loud you laugh Norm" Since in the first episode you now clearly see Chad sitting behind Doyle and not in the booth, you have to wonder if this was added later as well.

5) Also in episode 2. There is a guy to the left of Phil (Phil's right) in an Old Navy T-Shirt and sunglasses. Is that a younger, thinner Greg Raymer? It sure looks like the Fossilman, sans the Fossil sunglasses. He hardly gets any face time. Definately the only times you see him without his glasses is when he is obscured by someone else in the shot.

So if anyone recorded the WSOP when it was originally aired a few years ago, I would be interested to see what has changed. I am sure that after it went into DVD distribution, it was re-edited, including "never seen before footage" and "additional deleted scenes," so it would almost certainly appear the same on the DVD, but I would like to know if I just completely missed this the 1-2 other times I have seen this series, and if it was really missing from when the series was originally aired on ESPN.

Anyway, it looks like there are still a few episodes to go on ESPN Classic, and if you can catch them, you might see some things you didn't see the first time around, even if you've already watched it once. I have read Moneymakers book in the interim, so I am interested to see when they start to feature him in the coverage. Up to this point they haven't.
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