Top 2010 Poker Player Stories – #24 Scott Clements and Adam Levy
The viewership numbers on the World Series of Poker Main Event telecast this year were down considerably. I wrote an article on some thoughts I had about how to pick up the numbers earlier (found here). The post was basically my response after having read the Wicked Chops Poker blog on the topic (found here) and thinking about some of the improvements that could be made. One of the main reasons that people highlight as being disinterested in the WSOP on TV is that the stories of the players at the final table are just not that interesting. The argument is basically that “The story is the same every year. It’s a 20-something-year-old online kid that we’ve never heard of who gets lucky to be at the final table, and then wins million of dollars.” Well, if there were recognizable names, would that make people watch? I believe that it would certainly help. People like watching stories that they’re familiar with and can relate to. And when it comes to great stories, TV really missed an opportunity to tell the great stories of Scott Clements and Adam Levy.
Scott Clements is a 2 time WSOP Bracelet winner, and the holder of 2 WPT Championship Titles. With more than $4.4 million in career tournament poker winnings, he was one of the most recognizable pros left as play wound on from Day 4 of the WSOP Main Event all the way to his eventual finish in 18th. He was involved in quite a few large pots, and saw some incredible swings in his chips, but mostly he just gathered them. He played brilliant poker for 8 days, and was rewarded by the staff at 441 Productions (the company which broadcasts the WSOP on ESPN) by a few fleeting moments on air and reduced to an afterthought for the telecast. It was a complete travesty that he didn’t get more camera time or a profile on the show.
Adam Levy is another one of the more recognizable pro’s on the circuit who made a deep run in the Main Event, and yet he also saw little to no television time. I remember there being a specific telecast that had 2 one-hour episodes shown back to back at a point late in the tournament where Adam was holding onto a large chip stack, and he was on screen for a micro-second with the camera’s showing his elbow as he sat next to a player involved in a televised hand. This was his entire appearance on the broadcast. Despite having never final tabled a WSOP event before, Levy is the farthest thing from a no-name or a hack. “Roothlus” got his name in the poker industry by crushing tournaments online, but he has a ton of live scores including more than $1.5 million in career earnings. And while there was so much material available for the telecast that didn’t get shown, it has to be pointed out that ESPN really missed the boat by not giving Levy more camera time. It would have been great to have watched a profile on Levy with the hand he played Queen-Ten against Phil Hellmuth in probably the most animated Hellmuth blow up in WSOP history. Instead, we only got to see Adam holding his head in disgust in a hand that he wasn’t even in. He was on the air showing the emotions that everyone experienced when Duhamel made a terrible call to win that giant pot against Matt Affleck which busted Affleck in 15th place. But he wasn’t on TV in a hand again until they decided to show his unfortunate bust when he happened to run into Aces to finish in perhaps the most unheralded 12th place finish for a big name pro in WSOP history.
For whatever reason, the producers of the WSOP broadcast felt that the recognizable names just weren’t television worthy, electing to go a different direction with their story telling. Levy’s 12th place finish and Clements’ 18th place finish, while incredible as they were, became afterthoughts in the TV story because they just didn’t receive the camera time that they were owed.
ESPN’s Norman Chad was on the ESPN Poker Edge Podcast in an interview with Andrew Feldman where he explained the situation saying that “One of the problems of the production which I’m constantly apologizing for, is there is a limited amount of time, and we follow a lot of stories, and certain people get left out. Two of the best players left in that room when you’re down under 100 players, down under 50 players, were Scott Clements and Adam Levy. And it was almost that they weren’t there on our telecast. And I can only apologize to them individually. It’s just the way that it comes down. It’s hard to explain. The producers make decisions on what they’re following and then when it gets late in the game, if they haven’t followed somebody yet, chances are that they’re not going to follow them at the end, particularly if they don’t make the final table. So Scott got short changed in terms of time, and Adam Levy got short changed in terms of time.”
I think that the production team has to take a look at the fact that there are a number of other stories in the WSOP which would be more appealing to the masses to tell than the ones that that they chose to highlight this year. I also think that they need to do a better job of highlighting the stories of the people who make the November 9. Do I think that highlighting Levy or Clements would have moved the needle that much more? Perhaps not considering that neither made the final table. But in an interview that I had with Levy on our TPT Live Show we chatted with Adam about the surprise exclusion of both he and Clements in this year’s telecast. In short, Adam said that “It sucks.” And he’s absolutely right. I truly believe that ESPN and 441 Productions needs to do a better job of getting viewers interested in these types of players if they want their telecasts to get bigger ratings. Both Clements and Levy are really interesting people with outstanding stories, and a deep run like theirs should be televised for fans of the game to see. Instead, I think that Norman Chad describes it best by saying that they were a “casualty of the process.”
I ran into both Adam and Scott at the NAPT in Los Angeles at the Bicycle Casino. Adam came up to me and thanked me for the interview and offering him a platform to talk about the situation. He told me that he hadn’t had the opportunity to respond to the lack of coverage as of yet. Later in the conversation, Scott Clements also joined us and we chatted about how dismaying it was that the camera’s just went other directions and if they’d missed out on their only opportunity to get recognized on TV. The conversation went something like this:
Adam: “I don’t know that I’ll ever have the chance to get that deep in the Main Event ever again in my career”
Me: “Wait a minute here. Don’t sell yourself short. Let me ask, how many WSOP Main Events have you played in your career now?”
Me: “So in four Main Events, you have a 58th place finish and a 12th place finish?”
Adam: “Actually, I finished 48th in 2008, but yeah.”
Me: “So in 4 tries at the Main Event, you’ve cashed in the top 50 in half of them. And you don’t think you’ll have another shot at it?”
Scott: “Well, maybe you should just save the $10k next year and win it all in 2012.”
Both Adam and Scott went back to their tables and as I watched them walk away, and watched their play, I couldn’t help but think that as talented as both players are, that they will both have another shot at it. And when they do, I hope that the camera’s show it.