5 Ways to Improve Televised Poker Part 4: The Rail

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  • Published November 13th, 2012 in Poker

In the past few years we have seen televised poker overhauled, with ESPN and the World Series of Poker moving to live broadcasting, and other outlets also using the Internet to show live final-table streams. We have also seen hole-cards hidden until the conclusion of the hand (something I have long called for) giving the viewer a more “play-along” feel to the broadcast.

However, with these advancements there have also been some new issues that have reared their heads, most notably the slow, boring, pace of live poker. In this series I will look at five ways televised poker could be instantly improved, which in this installment will be some ideas for dealing with “The Rail”.

Here is a look at all five improvements I would put in place:

  • Commentary and Biographies
  • Incorporate a Shot Clock
  • Implement a Dress Code
  • Curtail “The Rail”
  • Overlay Pertinent Statistics

Even more so than in my dress code rant, this installment will probably have me looking like quite the buzzkill as I’m about to fire-off my opinions on the increasingly boisterous rails we see at major tournaments.

While I’m all for having fun and lending support to your friends and family, the chanting and yelling we hear from the “rails” at major tournaments is starting to get out of hand. Supporters don’t need to act like opera goers, but there should be some etiquette involved with sitting in the Penn & Teller theater for the final table of the WSOP Main Event.

Here are some of my suggestions:

  • Eliminate random yells and chants, especially during crucial decisions

Not only is this distracting, but it’s off-putting, and makes poker players seem like college kids at a party.

  • Cheering should be limited to after the hand, not when a player raises or over-shoves

If you are at a comedy show you don’t start clapping halfway through the joke, and even sporting events limit their PA to in between action, because it’s distracting. If you’re railing someone in a major tournament you should have the good sense to keep your cheers to after the hand is concluded.

A second point on this would be if a player worked out signals with his coach/rail that when they cheered they felt he should call or vice versa.

  • Players shouldn’t be allowed to wander over to the rail whenever they please; that’s what breaks are for

This isn’t as important to me as the other situations I listed above, but it can get fairly annoying (both as a player at the table and as a spectator) to have someone constantly out of their chair. Just sit down and play poker, if you need some pointers now that can’t wait until the next break you’re in serious trouble.

I’d also like to see this eliminated so players cannot take advantage of knowing other players’ hole-cards quite as quickly now that poker has moved to a live feed format.


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  • Posted in: Poker
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