We are now just a day away from finding out who will be the next inductee into the Poker Hall of Fame. In the run-up to this announcement, Poker.org is profiling each of the nominees. Under the new rules, only one person is admitted into the PHOF each year, though an exception will be made if Lon McEachern & Norman Chad win. Because Lon and Norm come as a team.
As non-players, the criterion for their admittance would be on grounds of having “contributed to the overall growth and success of the game of poker, with indelible positive and lasting results.” It sets a high bar for non-poker players, but Lon and Norm have certainly done that.
Lon and Norm were a large part of the shift from the WSOP mimicking a football broadcast to becoming more of a gameshow. They helped turn a specialist card game into something dynamic and accessible. For the last two decades, theirs has been the main paradigm for almost all poker shows. Only in the last few years has the prevailing wind for poker commentary shifted towards a more technical compass point.
The voices of the WSOP
The pair took over commentating on the WSOP the same year that the poker boom really took off. They both had long careers as sports journalists, and since the broadcasting contract for the WSOP was in ESPN’s hands the pair was ideally situated to pick up the gig and run.
Before that, Norm had a short stint as a stand-up comic and writer and channeled that comedic energy in his commentating, playing the mostly-loveable idiot to Lon’s more professional straight man.
In recent years, the pair have been joined in the booth by a rotating cast of pros (most frequently Jamie Kerstetter) who provide more technical analysis. But when they are completely absent from the booth, it just isn’t the WSOP anymore.
They might not be responsible for setting off the poker boom, but they were certainly a part of the payload that made the boom as big as it was.
Featured image source: Haley Hintze