“Feels like a homecoming” – Stapes on NAPT return, second chances and dealing with the cops

Author Adam Hampton
Adam Hampton
Posted on: November 02, 2023 09:44 PDT

Joe 'Stapes' Stapleton is on enthusiastic form (when is he not?) ahead of the long-awaited return of the North American Poker Tour (NAPT), which hits Las Vegas, November 4-12.

It's fair to say there's been something of a gap between Seasons 2 (2011) and 3 (2023), with Black Friday bringing the NAPT to a grinding halt just three events into its sophomore year. Of course, many poker players suffered worse consequences than some canceled gigs, and Stapes was able to continue his commentary career across the pond on the EPT.

But now, 12 years later, Stapes is excited to get back among the players and audiences of his home country, alongside longtime colleague James Hartigan (“He steers the ship, I fire the guns”). However, in our exclusive interview, Stapes shares how his broadcasting career was almost finished before it began.

"I'm going to be late for work today...I have to talk to the police"

“I got offered my first paid gig at Mohegan Sun," Stapleton says. "The night before, I partied 'til the break of dawn. I've got work the next day but I'm young, I don't really care. I got back to the hotel and fell asleep fully dressed. I wake up in the morning and I notice my TV is gone.

When I go to the front desk, they call the police and I get taken for questioning. They took me to a conference room, it was like out of a movie, with a guy in a trench coat and a little notepad. He's real suspicious. My first ever paid gig as a commentator and I have to call the boss, like: 'Hey, I'm going to be late for work today, I have to talk to the police, they think I stole a TV...'. I thought, I'm never going to get hired again.

I thought I would never be back on the NAPT again, but not because the whole f***ing tour was cancelled! I thought it was just me!”

Back in the booth for a second shot

Luckily for Stapes and his many fans, the incident was resolved without any serious jail time, and in a couple of days' time when the cards hit the felt at Resorts World Las Vegas, he'll be back in the commentary booth to pick up just where he left off in 2011.

“It feels like a homecoming. It feels like a second shot. And what's really cool about it is that I'm better at it now than I was back then. So to get this second chance at it, in a Return of the Jedi-type situation where I've had all the training, I put in my 10,000 hours to get to do it, now it's just crazy exciting.”

Check out the video above for the full interview with PokerOrg's Sarah Herring.

NAPT Las Vegas runs November 4-12 at Resorts World, Las Vegas, with the $1,650 Main Event kicking off on November 6. Check out the full schedule.

Featured image courtesy of PokerStars