The script and laptop are ready. Jeff Platt slides into the anchor desk for the Thursday preview show for “Friday Night Poker,” which is aired on Facebook Watch by the Poker Central and Stadium networks. It is part of a growing stable of high-stakes poker tournaments and cash games streamed to fans around the world.
The 32-year-old graduated from Plano West High School and is well-known in the poker world as a commentator, host and interviewer. Much of Jeff’s work can be seen on PokerNews.com where he serves as co-host of the site’s podcast. On Poker Central’s streaming service, PokerGO, he works as an anchor for high roller tournaments and provides play-by-play at the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Now living in Las Vegas, it’s been a long journey from his hometown to success in the growing world of poker.
Plano provided a great place to grow up. Heavily involved in choir, Jeff credits that experience with becoming comfortable in front of an audience and setting the stage for his career.
“I feel like I was put on a path to succeed at Plano West,” he says. “My experience in choir and show choir group – shout out, Syncopation! – allowed me to become comfortable with a microphone and on stage.”
After high school, Jeff studied broadcast journalism at the University of Southern California and worked as a sports anchor and reporter for the CBS affiliate in Jackson, Miss., after graduation. He later worked at stations in Dallas and San Antonio.
“I’ve been fortunate to cover the Mavs and the Spurs, and learned a lot about the industry through those experiences,” he says. “I’ve always been in sports broadcasting, and enjoyed playing and watching poker, so figured I’d try to find a way to merge these two passions into one career.”
That love of poker dates to 2003 and ESPN’s coverage of the WSOP Main Event, won by Chris Moneymaker. With a perfect surname, Moneymaker was an amateur who topped a field of pros to win $2.5 million and kickstarted the poker boom.
“My high school friends and I were hooked,” he says. “Not only did we watch all the episodes, but played multiple times a week. Poker’s combination of problem solving with financial rewards led me to develop quite the interest in playing and watching the game.”
That love of poker led to an interesting media niche. For “Friday Night Poker,” Jeff interviews a player on Thursday’s preview show. He writes an intro and studies player bios just before the Friday live show. After talking with players and adding more notes, the cards are dealt and cameras roll. Events regularly include some of the best players in the world playing for millions of dollars.
“My goal is to call the action, give some added information and create good spots for my co-hosts to jump in with their entertaining analysis,” he says. “That goal is so much easier with a decent amount of preparation.”
Jeff notes that a common misconception about poker is that it’s a casino game similar to blackjack or craps. However, poker players compete against others – not the house.
“While there’s certainly an element of luck involved,” he says, “the skill, strategy, and problem-solving that players have to rely on makes poker a fascinating game to cover.”Friday Night Poker on Facebook Watch > Follow Jeff Platt on Twitter >