The Jake Cody Vlog: a view from the tournament directors

The Jake Cody Vlog: a view from the tournament directors

After Jake Cody releases episodes two and three of his new Vlog, Lee Davy confronts the elephant in the room and seeks an opinion from the Tournament Directors on the use of video recording equipment during live games.

“We fold, and fold, and fold…and…fold.”

I am back, taking a deeper dive into the new Vlog – produced, edited and starring PokerStars Team Pro Jake Cody.

At the time of writing, Cody has released three versions of his new Vlog:

Click here to subscribe to his channel.

His pilot attracted 23,703 views, and the ratings are climbing and although some viewers will turn it off preferring to watch some nubile young man or woman doing a downward facing dog I think his viewership will continue to grow.


When it comes to Cody’s new Vlog, the elephant in the room needs addressing. What are the stipulations concerning his use of recording equipment at the table? How do we approach the filming from an ethical standpoint?

I think it’s important to raise these questions now because I want to see more Vlogs like this emerge as an alternative to Twitch. Like Cody, I have a young child and am a very busy man. I don’t have time to sit my bony ass down and watch Twitch streams for hours on end, but I can squeeze in a 10-20 minute video from my favourite poker player from Rochdale.

Cody has shown in his first three episodes that people value his product. So let’s see what we can do to help him ensure it lasts.

The Tournament Directors View

The Jake Cody Vlog: a view from the tournament directorsI reached out to several prominent Tournament Directors (TD) to ask them for their view on Cody’s use of recording equipment at the table. The first person I approached was the World Poker Tour (WPT) head honcho Matt Savage.

Here is the official TDA ruling on the use of electronic devices, forwarded to me by Savage.

4: Electronic Devices and Communication

 Players may not talk on a phone at the table. Ring tones, music, etc. should be inaudible to others. House rules apply to other types of electronic devices and communication.

 It’s good news for Cody because it means he is not breaking any rules. However, something tells me that this rule will not stay this way forever. More and more people are turning to social media as a way to (a) grow a personal brand (b) record their life for whatever reason suits them.

Cody has said that this Vlog is his memoir; something he can show his daughter when she is older, or he can look back on when he is sitting in his rocking chair watching the X-Factor on TV and say, ‘Wow…that life was sick.”

All this means Facebook Live, Twitter videos and Periscope are becoming more popular in our social circles. The incidences of people wanting to thrust a camera in your face and record the moment for whatever reason is rising. The TDA will be forced to react and change the rules to ensure sensibility meets security at the right level.

Back to Savage and his views on Cody’s Vlog:

“I think if we get into the practice of allowing hole cards to be filmed it becomes very dangerous. I know that Jake {Cody} isn’t doing anything nefarious but other players could, and it’s my job to not only protect all players, but to also protect them from the appearance of impropriety.”

 Savage makes a point. How do you ensure parity with your decision making on this one? How do you justify a professional poker player being allowed to film for a personal Vlog, and refusing a recreational player? How do you prevent someone from cheating?

Steve Frezer is the President for Planet Earth Poker Events. Here’s his view.

“I would allow it. We need more of this in the industry – by that I mean something different than the normal poker videos or shows. It was entertaining.”

 There was one problem that Frezer spotted that Cody could change.

 “I don’t like the angle of his camera. I understand he is only filming his cards and not moving the camera, but the angle is underneath the dealer’s stub, and it is possible that he could see some cards depending on the dealer. I would ask him to adjust it so that the camera only sees his cards when not on the dealer stub.”

 Finally, I sought the opinion of the Unibet Open Tournament Director, Kenny Hallaert.

As far as I can see he’s only recording and not commentating on the hands while he’s playing. In general, I don’t mind that people would be filming and posting it on social media because this is usually good promotion for your poker room. But as a manager, you should also protect the integrity of the game and make sure no other players are being filmed because in many countries this is against the law unless players sign a waiver that they agree on being filmed, so you have to find the right balance.

 “The way that the camera is placed, however, it could be possible that cards get recorded that are dealt to players while they are pitched by the dealer. Therefore I would not allow it. Even though he might not be able to see it in real time, he can always look back at it when home and see what cards his opponents were playing and take that advantage with him for a next session. The same view applies to me as a player.”

 What I like about each of these opinions is the balanced perspective that Cody’s idea is overall good for the game, but there needs to be a way to implement it while observing game integrity. At least our TD’s aren’t turning into little Donald Trumps and building a wall that Cody and his ilk cannot get around.

I asked Savage if there was anything wrong with Cody coming to an agreement with the Tournament Director at a specific casino about using a camera at the table.

“If it’s within the local casino’s policies then I see no issues.”

 And perhaps this is Cody’s out.

 The Ricky Gervais Effect

 What do all of Ricky Gervais’s shows have in common?

What do all sitcom’s have in common?

The filming takes place in a single location and with a small cast of characters who we become emotionally invested with over time. Think of The Office; the care home in Derek or the film set in Extras.

Maybe, Cody can continue to record his life as he makes his Phileas Fogg impression, but reach an agreement with his local card room and players to film under certain circumstances. I think it adds an extra dimension to his Vlog by introducing some additional characters we get to love or hate through his filming. He could even produce Netflix-style seasons.

To expand his reach, Cody can also come to an agreement with card rooms from all over the world. If Cody’s viewership grows then, players are more likely to visit the card room he is promoting on his Vlog. There is a win-win scenario that could work. I also doubt players will be too bothered if he films the action as long as he asks them first. The local players benefit because they get to see his thought process played out first hand when they subscribe to his Vlog.

And is there any difference between filming an online training video and the Cody approach? As far as I recall, it’s highly unusual for a coach to tell the table that he or she is filming a training video when playing online. Ok, we have the ‘Dealer Stub’ issues to iron out, but I don’t see much difference, to be honest.

Thoughts For Improvements and a View From The Boss

 There is a Royle Family ordinariness to Cody’s Vlog that I find appealing. However, I can also see how some people might find it repetitive or even boring. Jake Cody is no Jim Royle.

 Cody alone might not cut it, so I would like to see extra characters introduced. It’s for this reason that I am a fan of the local home game approach. Another way that Cody could liven things up is to be more personable on camera.

Playing poker professionally is not only about the cards. It creates a social and family dynamic that is rare in the world. I know, because I tried to be a professional poker player and ended up in the divorce courts.

It was nice to see Cody talking about his personal life in the video shot at The Hard Rock. As a father, I am particularly interested in how he manages to be a Dad; a great husband and also professional poker player. I want to understand more about how he handles emotions and what else could be going on inside of that talented mind of his.

A good example:

In one of the videos, Cody is walking through The Hard Rock when he says that it reminds him of all the temptation of Las Vegas. It was the perfect moment for Cody to inject one of his legendary stories. It would have made us laugh. There will be times he will make us cry. I want the full breadth of emotion.

“I nearly didn’t post it because I was so scared.” Said Cody.

 In that one sentence, we see that Cody is human. The youngest Triple Crown winner in history, who is riding around Florida in his Mercedes gets scared about sharing his life with people. I liked that vulnerable touch. I also love the way he shows all the folds. It’s a silent reminder of the difference between the pro and the amateur.

Here is what Cody had to say about the ethical dilemma of using the phone.

“I just use my iPhone so far. It’s currently a bit of a moral dilemma as I want to continue making the Vlogs and I will do either way, but I love the way the table shots come out, so I’m hoping to continue.

 “The question is if I should tell players or if by taking these steps their privacy isn’t invaded. It’s a tough one. The players change so often in a cash game too relentlessly having to bring it up would be very awkward, and I feel like they may think I was trying to cheat somehow. If it works out that it’s forbidden, I’ll have to respect that and find a new way to analyse and show the hands afterwards.”

The hand replayer option is there, but I hope Cody doesn’t have to use it. I like the realism of the sound of the chip riffle. I like staring at his cards as he peels them back. I can’t wait for him to play a game at Hooters so I can see that company logo on the dealer’s chest. I love owls so much.

In short, I don’t want to see this project fold.

What are your thoughts?