In The Booth with WSOP Commentator David Tuchman
David Tuchman has one of the most recognizable voices in poker. As the live commentator for the World Series of Poker Live Stream, he and his many guest commentators call the action on about half of the 2014 WSOP final tables.
Tuchman is pretty passionate about what he does. If you ever get a chance to peer through the window of his broadcasting booth, you can often find him standing up, his arms wailing about fervently as if he is involved in an intense conversation. And by all accounts he is; the conversation just happens to be with everyone tuning in to listen.
"As far as jobs go, I am the luckiest guy in the world," Tuchman told PokerNews. "I love it. I love my job. I mean, it’s a job and there are days when I would just rather stay home and play with my son and dogs. But I am sure that is the case with everyone at some point or another.”
Tuchman says it never made much sense to him to venture into a career that he didn’t love. “Many years ago, my dad made it clear to me that if I wanted it, I could take over the successful accounting firm that he built with his partner over a 38-year time span. Of course, I love my dad and I was honoured, but I just always knew it wasn’t for me.”
Tuchman began his career in the booth at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. In 2005, he picked up a microphone and began commentating for Live at the Bike, an unedited and unscripted live cash game from the casino floor that is still popular today. The stream became a hit with local grinders and continued to grow, successfully reaching an audience from all over the globe.
A few years later, Tuchman’s résumé began to grow, first as a commentator for online tournament highlight shows for PokerStars. Tuchman then went into the studio for NASCAR and the NFL, and in 2010 his relationship with the WSOP began. Today, he is a familiar face at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in the broadcast booth, just inside the main doors of the Amazon Room.
During our conversation with Tuchman on memorable hands and final tables, the talk turned to how he handles some of the more interesting plays during commentating on the live stream. Tuchman is adamant in his defence of the recreational player. “The only thing that frustrates or upsets me is when people look down upon people when they play bad or what they think is bad. As if playing bad at poker was somehow a statement on you as a person.”
Tuchman understands the demographics and the importance of attracting a fresh pool of new players to the game. “There are a lot of things that pros do to alienate amateurs from coming into the game," he said. "Without them the game dries up. This is a game where unless you are filthy rich or learn how to play, you will go broke and stop playing.”
There has been much discussion over the years from old-school pros about the value of respecting recreational players, some of which may be lost on some of the up and coming twenty-somethings. One thing that is important to remember is that there are plenty of pros at the WSOP that live and breathe poker, but the majority of people that come to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino during the summer don’t do this for a living. These casual, recreational players are the ones that create the big prize pools.
“The majority of them have a job, a life, a family," Tuchman said about recreational players. "They want a weekend where they can escape [their] responsibilities and have some fun. This person plays poker every other week in a home game and when he’s not playing poker or dealing with life, he’s probably grabbing a beer and watching a basketball game. You can bet he is not on PocketFives or TwoPlusTwo (poker forums). He doesn’t study. He doesn’t hang out with four other poker buddies and talk about the correct line. He just doesn’t have time for that.”
Ridiculing players effects the game. Straight-forward and sportsman-like behavior should be the norm at the table, and while many players understand the importance of it, it is the few spoilers that seem to make an impact on the game. “I find it a bit narrow-minded and actually a bit stupid [and] bad for business, if you will, when a lot of the pros criticize or ridicule people.”
Tuchman contemplates the idea of having a pro player switch jobs with the recreational player. “What would happen if one of those pros had to do that person’s job? They would probably fail and certainly wouldn’t perform it at a skillful level right out of the gate. So it amazes me that any pro would expect a recreational player to sit down at a poker table and know how to do the job at their level. That’s your dinner money; your rent money. And the thing is, the recreational player doesn’t mind paying - as long as they are enjoying themselves.”
It was just a few weeks ago that Tuchman played host to his dad here at the 2014 WSOP. He had been trying to get him to come out and he finally did, entering the Seniors Event.
“If my dad had made the final table, I have no doubt his play would be ridiculed by numerous 20-year-old haters saying, ’This guy sucks’. That makes me cringe, not only as a professional, but as a son. He busted but ended up winning a satellite, and overall, he probably lost a little. It didn’t really matter because he had such a great time. He doesn’t mind losing as long as he’s having fun, and that’s the truth for most players that enjoy poker as a hobby.”
One of the best features of the 2014 WSOP Live Stream is the steady rotation of some of the games brightest stars joining Tuchman for analysis. Considering how Tuchman feels about respecting recreational players, we asked him how he handled that subject with his guest commentators. Tuchman gives his guest commentators a lot of leniency regarding analysis and critique of the pros at the table.
“If anyone wants to get in the booth and critique Phil Galfond then fine, because they are putting themselves on the line. And that’s cool. I figure if you are a pro, then you open yourself up to criticism - as long as it’s not personal and kept professional.”
Obviously, not every professional poker player plays the same way. It’s important to Tuchman that the broadcast remains professional, adds value and provides entertainment. And sometimes, that delicate regime is a difficult thing to balance.
“We want to try and work hard to be considerate in our analysis,” he says. “At the end of the day, poker is not black and white. Daniel Negreanu plays very differently than some 22- year-old. I watched Negreanu win Player of the Year last year and I was doing the broadcast of the high roller where he barely put in a three-bet. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat.”
Tuchman loves poker and his job, and he hopes he brings that zest and passion translates through his broadcasts. Tuchman and his crew accelerate 36 days of work into 39, and the long days of the 2014 WSOP can be challenging. But for Tuchman, it’s all worth it. “When it’s not fun anymore and it becomes more of a grind, then that’s the day I call it quits. But for right now, when it comes to work, I feel like I am pretty lucky.”