Today's the start of the biggest poker event of the year: the final table of the 2013 World Series of Poker's Main Event. And while the final table is being called one of the "more talented final tables" in recent WSOP history, it unfortunately lacks in big name pros and outlandish personalities, of which poker has quite a few.
Case in point: Jonathan Jaffe. Back in September, ESPN profiled several players who were playing at the feature table, including Jaffe, who was portrayed as the poker player with a heart of gold. In a video package, Jaffe told stories of how, when he's not busy gambling, he works 50 hours a week training dolphins.
"It's quite a grind, being a dolphin trainer, it's like 50 hours a week of work, only 10 of which are spent with dolphins," Jaffe told ESPN. "Dolphin training really keeps my head to the ground."
The video package even showed photos of Jaffe feeding dolphins.
Awww, right? Well, it was all a lie. And fortunately for ESPN, this revelation has been mostly under the radar.
On a recent Pokercast Podcast, Lon McEachern, host of the WSOP broadcasts, revealed -- and he confirmed to the podcast hosts this is a little-known story -- that he caught Jaffe admitting to fellow poker players the dolphin backstory was completely made up.
Here's McEachern, on the podcast:
"Yeah that's what [Jaffe] told [ESPN]. That's what he told us during the interview, and then he sat down with his Ivey Poker people and said it was all BS, that he wanted to see how far he could take [the story]. He had his head photoshopped on a friend feeding a dolphin."
McEachern said ESPN editors had to go back and edit out dolphin references in episodes that have yet to air, but the original package had already made its way to TV. In fact, it's still up on ESPN's page right now.
Imagine if McEachern missed Jaffe's conversation and Jaffe had made it to the final nine (he ended up finishing in 42nd place, pocketing $185,694 in winnings). His dolphin trainer backstory would probably be the main angle throughout the final table.
McEachern explained on the podcast that the ESPN crew in charge of putting together the show doesn't have enough staff to check the background of every player profiled, that they hope the interviews would be "we trust you, you trust us." Guess ESPN, after decades of broadcasting poker, still hasn't learned the number one lesson: Never trust a poker player.