As We See It

World Series of cheating?

The poker community isn’t happy about hole cameras.

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Players in the World Series of Poker are worried about the potential for cheating now that tables are equipped with “peeker” cameras that display face-down hands.
Illustration: Mart Klein

Break out your sunglasses, baseball caps and lucky card protectors; the World Series of Poker begins in two short weeks. Last year, ESPN waited until the Main Event field had narrowed to nine before beginning its broadcast; this year, ESPN is broadcasting on a 30-minute delay. This will make things more exciting for home viewers (no Internet spoilers!) but could also change contestants’ strategies. See, some WSOP tables have “hole cameras” built in. These cameras allow home viewers to see players’ facedown cards. That means players at “hole card” tables can have their friends stay home, watch the ESPN broadcast and report back via cell phone during tournament breaks on whether the other people at the table were bluffing in previous hands. Usually, TV poker tournament players wouldn’t get that kind of information until long after the tournament had ended and the broadcast aired. If players don’t like the new rule, there’s not much they can do about it. According to a WSOP press release, “Players may not impede the television production. They must cooperate fully, including wearing a microphone if asked and showing their hole cards to the peeker cameras. Failure to cooperate can result in forfeiture from the tournament.” So shuffle up and deal with it.

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