Now in his 11th year covering the event for ESPN, Chad gives Front Row a taste of what to expect.
Which storylines are you looking forward to watching unfold this year?
The defending champ, Greg Merson, is in the mix. His story last year – beating a drug addiction, twice – was inspiring. We had two women – Gaelle Baumann and Elisabeth Hille – almost make the final table last year; it would be great if a woman could break through. Most of all, I always look forward to seeing the unknown amateurs who emerge and make a once-in-a-lifetime charge to fame and fortune; that remains the greatest part of the Main Event – anyone can play and anyone can win.
You always have the best turns of phrase. Do you have some prepared or do they just come to you in the moment?
When you’re raised outdoors near a nuclear waste facility, it changes your outlook, plus it gives you a lot of time to ponder catchphrases you’ll use as an adult. Actually, I just incorporate a lot of the language I had used for years playing poker myself. But one of my expressions – “squadoosh” – dates back to my college days, away from the poker table, when I would lament my miserable lot in life and tell friends, “I never have squadoosh.”
You and co-host Lon McEachern have great chemistry during telecasts. What do you enjoy most about working with him?
I love Lon, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a little less of him. For several months a year, we are in very close quarters a good part of the day – actually, he’s got the worst of it, because he’s got to spend a good part of his day with me. But I’m tired of looking up to him, literally – he’s just too tall. And sometimes I tire of his booming voice – he’s got that Columbia School of Broadcasting delivery going on whether he’s announcing a big moment at the final table or ordering a burrito for lunch. God, but I love his cologne.
What is the best part about your job?
That’s easy. When we’re done with the production, I go with my wife every Tuesday night to our favorite tapas bar/sports bar and watch the World Series of Poker on the big screen. My wife says I sound so much better in closed captioning.