Both the poker industry and Ron McEachon’s career have had ups and downs over the years, but both are as powerful as ever, with ESPN launching the 2016 Poker World Series this week.
McEachern, along with his inimitable TV partner Norman Chad, has become an integral part of ESPN’s WSOP coverage for the past 13 years. This is something the 59-year-old never imagined when he was working as a freelance performer in 2002.
“No, I never expected it to be this big. In fact, I was just happy at the time that I was going to get a steady paycheck over the next few months,” Mackin said in Casino City. “It’s funny, but when I look back, my career disappeared as I became a poker player. It was crazy, but I’m not going to trade my life for anyone else.”
McEarn grew up in a broadcasting family. Both his father and older brother were in business, and it was something that appealed to him at a very young age. After graduating from the University of California Santa Barbara in 1980, he worked as a local sports anchor in San Francisco, then began freelance work for ESPN, and did several unconventional activities such as bowling, X-Games, World Cup skiing, billiards, the U.S. Scrabble Open, and kickboxing. When the work started to dry out, he worked as a mortgage holder for Washington Mutual in Sunnyvale, California, to help pay for the family including his wife, Carol, and two children.
However, in 2002, ESPN asked him to work with Gabe Kaplan, a man of color, to cover the WSOP for two hours. In 2003, Chad replaced Kaplan and an amateur named Chris Moneymaker turned the poker world upside down by winning the WSOP main event in dramatic fashion. The “poker boom” exploded, and McEachurn has not left his seat in the ESPN WSOP booth since.
“I was very satisfied,” he said. “In 2002, I didn’t know much about poker. I sometimes played nickel-five card games at my friends’ houses, but it was about that. So it was fun to see poker develop and to play a small part of it as a broadcaster.” 파워볼게임
As part of his learning process, McIcheron has also developed into a poker player, and he is a regular at cash games and tournaments as he travels the country. He is the official poker ambassador at the Stones gambling house in Citrus Heights, California, where he has to play several times a week for the role. He said the game has improved dramatically over the years, to the point where he last proposed an anti-up world championship event at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort last month.
McEan, who is also an avid golfer with 12 handicaps, said he is routinely noticed at the table by other players, which can sometimes attract unwanted or unwarranted attention.
“Yes, people recognize me, and they want to join hands with me so that I can tell you they pulled me out or scooped up a big pot,” laughed McIchin, who enjoys Omaha High Row in addition to No Limits. “Sometimes when I’m sitting down, someone says, ‘Hey, this isn’t fair, you’re a professional.’ And I have to explain to them that I’m not a professional, and I’m actually far from it.
“I usually get more credit than I deserve as a player. I want to know how I can use all my attention to my advantage.”
The evolution of poker has changed the way ESPN has handled its coverage. Not only will WSOP be seen going to the Nov. 9 concept for the 2008 main event finals table, but now the station presents the last table live to prime-time TV viewers in addition to the regular slate of previously recorded daytime shows (with a 30-minute delay per game rule).
The 2016 schedule begins Tuesday night on ESPN2 with coverage of the WSOP Global Casino Championship Final Table at the Harrus Cherokee Casino Resort in North Carolina. The first of 14 main event shows will begin on Sunday, September 11, wrapping up with a three-day live final table broadcast live from Sunday, October 30, to Tuesday, November 1, at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, where time will be available on both ESPN and ESPN2. On ESPN, a two-hour final table encore is scheduled for Sunday, November 20, at 9 p.m.
MacEarn said that compared to the recorded show, both preparation and execution for the live show were significantly different.
“They both have very satisfying elements,” explained the ubiquitous McIcheran, who wanders the floor, takes notes, gathers information, and talks at the WSOP in Las Vegas during the summer with Chad. “When I’m preparing for a live show, there’s so many things I need to prepare and I’m ready to work on. It’s scary on one level, and it’s a little bit invigorating on another level.
“Preparing for a taped show is like getting a lot of homework done in college. My first inclination is I can’t believe I have this much going on ahead of me, but I really enjoy it year by year. I love research. I love finding chunks and I love the learning process.”
McEan added that adding Antonio Espandiari to the booth during the live broadcast was a huge benefit.
“He’s so enlightening,” he said. “He understands how to show that information to our audience, guides us through the whole process, and makes it edible for someone who may not have a desire for poker. Sometimes Norman and I just like to sit down and let him go. He’s just as good at it.”
ESPN finished production of the Global Casino Championship television broadcast last Tuesday night, and as of the end of last week, it had four main event final tables in cans.
As for the Main Event coverage, McEachern thinks this year’s Nov. 9 class is as talented as any group in the past, and this will lead to some interesting episodes, like the one set for the final.
“We’ve developed some strong storylines,” he said. “We’ve had a very strong field this year, highlighting a lot of high-profile and interesting pros, and just as attractive as the lesser-known but not as well-known. Our job is to lay the groundwork for the final and bring it to life on Nov. 9 as we get closer and closer, and so far I think we’ve done a good job of doing that.”