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The Muck: Is it OK to Film Hole Cards in Poker Rooms?

Matt Berkey and Sean McCormack got into a debate on twitter regarding filming in poker rooms.
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  • There's no consensus on the appropriateness of taking the ol' hole cam to the live games.

  • @berkey11 and @ThePokerBoss debate the ethics of filming faces and hole cards in poker rooms.

Poker vloggers and other content creators in the industry are credited with bringing many new players into the game, their free YouTube content appealing to a wide audience. They also serve as a kind of free advertising for poker rooms that are featured in the videos they produce.

In the case of the meet-up games (MUGs) that Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen host at various casinos, poker vloggers bring tangible business in the form of bodies in seats in the poker room, which converts into more games spread and rake collected.

Still, some find the idea of vloggers filming within the confines of poker rooms a bit unsettling. Cameras and casinos have historically not mixed. The debate of what is OK and not in terms of filming in poker rooms recently came up on Twitter.

The Catalyst

Poker vlogger Matt Kiefer put up a Twitter request for poker room managers to be accommodating to vloggers, which spurred some extensive conversation surrounding the topic.

While most vloggers film the majority of their content away from the table and outside of the actual poker room, many also film their hole cards and sometimes the board of community cards to serve as a reference for hands to discuss in depth for the vlog. There have been plenty of occasions though where a vlogger captures snippets of other players' hands or faces, and sometimes include instances of table talk.

The discussion branched in two different directions, namely the filming of faces in the room and filming of hole cards.

While many were against the filming of peoples’ faces under any circumstances, others thought it fine as long as signs like “Filming in Progress” were posted, and/or waivers were signed by participants.

In the name of player privacy as well as compliance with Gaming Commission rules, ARIA Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack, aka “The Poker Boss,” thinks that filming of hole cards should not be done under any circumstances — and many agreed.

Some, like Matt Berkey, countered with arguments of the value that content creators like vloggers offer.

But McCormack stuck with his guns on the need for adhering to gaming regulations.

We reached out to McCormack to ask him to elaborate on his stance from the poker operations side of things.

"I realize majority of people don’t film 'live.' The issue is as operators we don’t know that," explained McCormack. "I’ve personally caught people on Facebook or Twitter/Periscope filming at the tables. That being said, most if not all casinos have rules on filming within gaming areas."

As poker rooms are just trying to protect their customers and abide by gaming regulations, McCormack has some tips for aspiring poker vloggers to keep their practices in line with poker room rules.

"What I recommend vloggers do is meet with the card room manager first to find out what they can and can’t do," he said. "What is unacceptable is when filming happens without our consent. Again, I’m a huge fan of vlogging — just give us a heads up and set up a brief discussion prior."

"What is unacceptable is when filming happens without our consent."

When asked if it's possible for vloggers to get permission to film hole cards, McCormack said:

"It’s definitely a grey area. Lots of players think overall anonymity should be protected at all times. That being said, players like myself love the attention and new faces vloggers bring to the game."

While the legality of filming one's cards remains up for discussion, it's hard to argue with whatever these vloggers are doing to get this kind of response.

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