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Poker on TV: Moving on From Late Night Poker

By on April 6, 2017

Featured: Charlie Carrel

Remember the days of Late Night Poker on British TV? Slick-looking characters battling for thousands of pounds in prize money once captivated TV audiences before the show ran its course. When the show originally aired in 1999, it focused on what many considered a niche game. Today, poker is very different, and so are the players rising to the top. In this piece, we look at how poker is now portrayed on TV and ask whether it could replace the hole left by Late Night Poker.

Anyone that saw the recent Channel 4 documentary called How’d You Get So Rich will have noticed a young man by the name of Charlie Carrel in the mix. Despite being “small fry” in comparison to some of the other uber-successful types that were featured on the show, Carrel stuck out for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, he was only 22 and he’d already made more than £3 million, which, by anyone’s standards, is impressive. Secondly, he made his money playing poker. Carrel reinforced throughout his appearance the fact that poker is a game where skilled players can win over time. Indeed, for his part, Carrel is a self-confessed maths geek and it’s his penchant for numbers that’s allowed him to rise up the ranks and become a star at such as young age.

Studious Attitudes Make Modern Poker Players Great

During the show, Kathryn Ryan spent time with Carrel as he went house hunting. With notoriety within his profession and a few million in the bank, the natural question (and the premise of the show) was: how did you get into this position? Carrel’s explanation was simple: hard work.

“For about eight months I was playing 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” he told Ryan.

Carrel is, in no uncertain terms, the “new breed” of poker player. According to online operator 888poker, there are five general poker types at any table: the fish, the shark, the maniac, the bully and the rock. Depending on your personality and playing style, a player will tend to follow one of these types. For example, Carrel would be classed as a shark as he uses mathematics and logic to set traps for his opponents and gradually pick them apart. Another player might be more of a bully and simply bet big and often in an effort to push opponents out of the pot.

With Carrel showing us the new face of poker, our thoughts turn back to Late Night Poker. As is often the case when we review popular shows of old, Late Night Poker conjures up some fond memories. Characters like Dave “Devilfish” Ulliott, Barny Boatman and visiting American Phil Hellmuth all helped to create an understated drama around the poker table. However, while those entertaining exchanges over a smoke-filled table were once the way poker used to be played, things are very different now.

Poker on TV Can Still Be Great, but It Will Be Different

Yes, the likes of Hellmuth are still competing at the highest level and using a combination of wit, psychology and guile to win, but it’s the younger players that are now on top. Players like Carrel are showing that poker isn’t about throwing bets around and hoping to get lucky. Does this mean we won’t ever see the likes of Late Night Poker on our screens again?

Possibly, but that doesn’t mean the drama has died. Today, poker shows are more geared towards the cerebral side of the game rather than the personalities. Indeed, despite a drop in viewing figures in recent years, ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker still attracts more than a million viewers. So, while we may not see the likes of Late Night Poker again, it’s not something we should be sad about. With poker now a young person’s game for players like Carrel, there could be some interesting opportunities that TV producers may soon be willing to embrace.

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