The biggest offender of this is FSN's Poker Superstars Invitational II. Now, to be fair, FSN did a great job in assembling a cast of poker characters that is fun and intriguing to watch. What they did not do is give these poker combatants a chance to show off their superior skills. With quick levels and very short stacks, it isn't long before all of the skills these players possess are taken away, and they are only left with one move...all in.
The WPT does a decent job with a two-hour episode and only five players to eliminate. You get to see a series of hands where actual poker is played, and not just "I'm all in". The downside is that because the final table is shorthanded, it looks like the players just play any two cards and hope to get lucky. With all of the WPT events being three-five days in duration, the crew has plenty of time to gather enough footage to show what these players had to go through in order to reach the televised final table.
What we need is a poker show that shows the subtle intricacies of how to navigate through these monster tournaments, showing some hands where one player has courage to lay down a king high flush, because he knows it is no good, or how about a hand where a player shows enough heart to bluff on the River, after being called on both the Flop and the Turn. This is what it takes to make the TV table yet we never get to see any of it. Why is it that the only hands we ever get to see involve someone getting eliminated? How about showing the lucky River card that same guy caught on day one just to remain alive? Or how about the great call he made on day three with only ace high to win a monster pot? Don’t you think the public would appreciate this a whole lot more than just another “I’m all in”.
About the only show that does a good job of this is ESPN's Main Event coverage. It's a nine day long event, and ESPN shows us each and every day. They have a featured table, as well as cameras all over the room to show us how each of our favorite poker celebrates got eliminated. They also dedicated about a half hour of time to showing the dramatic moments, as we grew ever closer to the 560 lucky people who were fortunate to make the money. If every show did as good a job as ESPN is doing with its main event coverage, poker tournaments would only get bigger and better