Security is tight at the final table

CHRIS TESSARO -- Special to the Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

It seems simple enough when you watch it on TV: six players sitting around a fancy table that has cameras built into it that let you see their cards.

But what you are seeing is actually the result of some ingenious work and some high-tech wizardry.

EXPENSIVE TABLE

The actual table used for the tapings of WPT events is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It travels from tournament to tournament with a crew of technicians, and when it's set up for taping, it's done with security tighter than Fort Knox.

The tiny hole card cameras broadcast their signal to a secret room referred to as 'The Bunker.' Inside that room, a couple of technicians monitor the cards. No one else sees them. In fact, the technicians aren't even permitted to say aloud the cards a player holds.

On the set, commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten actually have no idea what cards the players have.

They do their commentary based on the live reactions of the players.

"We actually do 80% of the commentary after the event is over, in post-production," Sexton said.

The final table may take six hours to play, but it will be edited down to 40 minutes for the final product.

Fallsview's Jason March is the tournament director.

"We'll use 250 dealers and 70 supervisors to get through the event," March said. "We will have over 25,000 poker chips in play, in denominations running from $25 to $10,000."

March also is responsible for enforcing the gaming rules and tournament rules, with the power to hand out penalties up to and including kicking a player out of the tournament.

"So far, the players have been incredibly polite, and well behaved," March said.

THE PLAYERS

If you head down to the Fallsview Casino, here are some of the players worth watching this weekend:

Daniel Negreanu: 'Kidpoker' was the WPT 2005 Player of the Year. The Toronto-born Negreanu has approached rock star status both in and outside of the poker room.

Gavin Smith: Another Canadian, Gavin has a reputation for being a wild man who will bet on anything. He's also very, very good.

Humberto Brenes: This colourful Costa Rican champion is as likeable a person as you'll meet. "This place is nice. Nice casino, nice people. Beautiful waterfalls. I will come back next year."

Carlos Mortenson: Another WPT champion, the man known as The Spaniard spends the long hours of tournaments building his chips into castles. And he usually has lots of them.

Dan Harrington: Literally wrote the book on poker. His slow, calculating methodical style has earned him the ironic nickname 'Action Dan.'

Isabelle Mercier: The queen of Canadian poker, the pretty Mercier is a brilliant player who has earned the nickname 'No Mercy.'


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