WSOP 2014: Decorum at the Poker Table


Being a new father I am not able to watch the World Series of Poker in the timeliest of fashions. I am catching up on this year’s action thanks to Comcast On-Demand. And after watching Season 13 Episode 11 Part 3 I was appalled at the behavior at the Main Table that was broadcast on ESPN.

I primarily tuned in to watch poker pro Maria Ho and her excellence on the felt during her 2014 Main Event run. But, the show quickly turned into a lesson on how NOT TO ACT when playing poker.

Poker pro Kyle Keranen was at the Main Table and had the biggest chip stack. An amateur by the name of Curtis Rystadt was also at the table. As you can see from the footage above, it got personal, quickly. As a poker player I do not blame Keranen for calling out Rystadt. What the footage doesn’t show was the incessant banter of Rystadt during the action. He would try to engage others in conversation as hands were being played. What made it worse is he was doing this while those involved in the hand were sitting right next to him. THIS is a huge no-no in poker.

As much as I wanted Keranen to shut up Rystadt, part of me wanted him to get tunnel-vision and block him out, but being realistic, how can you do that after four long hours of listening to his rambling? Rystadt reasoned that he was “just trying to have fun.”

Well, I believe playing poker should involve a modicum of decorum and class. And, it was classless and of poor taste for Rystadt to constantly harangue during the play. I feel it was unfortunate that Keranen had to stand up to Rystadt by himself. I was hoping someone else would have voiced displeasure to Rystadt over his never-ending banter. I can only imagine the other players at the table didn’t want to make waves especially knowing this was going to be the table broadcast for this edition of ESPN’s coverage. Keranen just couldn’t take it anymore and called out Rystadt.

I believe he did it with aplomb and stayed as composed as one could. It was a frustrating episode. The poker was good, but the Rystadt antics surely took away from the high level of poker that was being played. Hopefully viewers came away with more admiration for Keranen and his compatriots, then Rystadt and his attention seeking maneuvers.

Near the end of the episode Keranen and Rystadt finally get entangled in a hand. For Keranen fans it was bittersweet as Rystadt’s desire to go heads-up with Keranen was rewarded with a “lucky” flop turn and river, busting Keranen’s ACES. What follows was all you needed to know about Rystadt. A verbal barrage, dressing down the pro in the most haughty of fashions. As I get ready to watch Episode 4 On-Demand, I don’t wish for much, but I do wish Rystadt dies a slow painful poker death, while the poker world is standing behind him, cheering his demise. And, also cracking stupid jokes and talking incessantly in his ear.


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