Supervising Producer at the World Poker Tour (WPT) is a big job title to hold, and speaking to Mandy Glogow it soon becomes clear, despite her easy-going personality and gentle demeanor, that it's also a very big job.
But the title of producer also strikes me as something of an elusive job. It's sort of like executive or official; it's used so often we're not quite sure what one of them does anymore, but it's a hard title to get on one's own résumé. So, when it comes to the WPT at least, what exactly is a producer?
"I'm the show runner!" laughs Glogow when I ask her. "We are the creative and logistical elements behind the television show. We put together all the puzzle pieces — prepping it, editing it, shooting it, and getting it onto networks.
"I look at us as storytellers; how do you tell the best story to the audience? With poker, it's finding the best way to make the game interesting, tell the story of the players at the tournaments, leading up to the final table. You tell it through the poker hands and through segments where we get to know the players a little better."
Glogow, who gives off that calm air of intricately knowing both the game of her job and the game of poker, has honed her production talents through almost a decade of working at the WPT. With both the poker industry and the wider world having moved on so rapidly in that time, how has she seen her job and her company evolve?
"We try to stay current with the players in the game because the faces have changed dramatically," she explains. "It's about staying at the forefront of who's playing, who's dong well. Also different strategies in the game have changed, so it's about working with Mike Sexton and Vince van Patten on how to communicate that to an audience. We work very closely with them as producers."
Yet although her days must be packed with challenges, both on and off the road, what has been her biggest over the past 10 years?
"We're always on the go," she replies after some consideration. "The interesting thing about the WPT and our production is that it is a year-round thing. When we're not in the field on a televised tournament stop, we're back in Los Angeles, doing editorial work and putting the show together. The biggest challenge is fitting it all in! We're doing 35 hours of programming, so it's a lot of work. It's challenging balancing that while taking care of editorial, travelling, and keeping all that together. But it can be fun."
We are the show runners. We find the best way to make the game interesting, to tell the story of the players at the tournaments.
As she elaborates on what she loves most about the job — in which she praises her "great team at the WPT" -- it becomes clear that this producer certainly doesn't see her role as a cut-and-paste job. Each show, she explains, is unique and different. It's about finding the highlights of each, and crafting those rough cuts of card hands, interviews, and scripted material into a cohesive story for the WPT audiences around the world.
Her time is split between LA and out on the road filming. The stress of travelling, she says, is alleviated by the excitement of getting to meet "tons of new people" and explore the WPT's exotic locales.
"Right now, because we don't have any live tournaments until the end of July, it's pretty much all editorial," Glogow says, a process she describes as "putting all the pieces together."
"The nice thing about post-production is that it's pretty regular days and hours. You get weekends off, depending on deadlines and such. At a tournament, some of the days can be 9-15 hours. You're biting your nails waiting for the final table."
For most people who work in poker, the chance to see new spots around the globe is a big draw. Having stated that she's no exception, we're curious as to which stop on the WPT is her favourite? Choosing just one is something she describes as a "tough question," though.
"I do always love going to the Bellagio in Vegas," she concedes. "It's just a classic spot and a quick jaunt from Los Angeles. The WPT started there, so for me it's always had this kind of mystique. I've seen some ridiculous final tables there and had the chance to interview some of the top players in the game, so it has a sentimental value in my heart."
Yet although she is now top of her game, Glogow admits that, like many who find poker, it's because they were somewhat lost.
"I'd been working in film and television, and I kind of didn't know where I was going with it. But I was playing poker all the time back then, whether I'd go to the local card rooms in LA and the Bicycle Casino on a nightly basis. I'd play in home games, and one of the people who played in our home games worked for the World Poker Tour. He kept saying 'you should come work with us.'
"Then in L.A., during the third season of the WPT, he invited me to come see a final table. It was when Doyle Brunson won the Legends of Poker. I remember seeing it; it was a fast final table, exciting and so much fun. A year and a half later, I got a phone call and something had opened up on another show the WPT was producing at the time, the Professional Poker Tour. That's how I got into it."
Although she describes her journey with poker so far as "a long, exciting ride," this is a show that is very far from the final cut for Glogow.
"In the entertainment industry, jobs aren't always as long," she said. "They don't have the longevity that this one has, so I just feel very fortunate in that respect."