In 2018, Jeff Platt had the life he always dreamed of as a kid.
Growing up a huge sports fan in the state of, and having developed a passion for sports broadcasting in his high school and college days, he was working at a San Antonio news station, getting paid to cover the San Antonio Spurs and rub shoulders virtually every day with one of the greatest head coaches of all time in any sport, Gregg Popovich.
And yet, despite all that, something was missing.
“As my contract was coming up there I realized I wanted a little bit more. I’ve always been passionate about broadcasting and I’ve always been passionate about poker so I figured I’d try to merge the two passions in my career.”
So he reached out to Dan Gati, now executive producer of PokerGO, and was able to line up an audition with him and Mori Eskandani. Two months went by without much word from them, and after reaching out again, he was eventually told that there might be some occasional work for him. Nothing was guaranteed. For Platt, that was all he needed to pack up his bags, and take a big leap of faith.
“I sent another email as my contract was up in San Antonio, and [Gati] said ‘yeah I might be able to use you here and there’ and that was pretty much it. I just decided to just go for it.”
Within two years, Platt became one of the faces of PokerGO and PokerNews, providing video interviews, sideline reporting, and occasional play-by-play commentary. For Platt, there were two people he singled out who helped pave the way for this transition to poker broadcasting for him.
“That first year I have Dan Gati and Sarah Herring to thank, both giving me opportunities, Dan with PokerGO, Sarah with PokerNews, and that allowed me to establish a footing in this industry. Fortunately for me, I’ve just been able to receive more and more opportunities, so I really could not be happier with how everything has turned out in this transition.”
Platt also went the extra step to establish a Twitch Channel during the 2020 Pandemic, providing nightly coverage of the WSOP online series for poker fans. He quickly gained a big following there, and that following came out in droves this week when Platt made news for being on the other side of the felt. He took 4th place in a field of over 4,000 players in the $1,000 Double Stack Event, earning a career-best score of $160,662. The run was fueled by an incredible Day 2 that saw Platt shoot from an average stack to the overnight chip leader. However, it almost never happened.
“On Day 1 I got the chips in AK vs AQ and a queen came on the turn and I was out. Fortunately for me, there was one re-entry per day, I couldn’t play Day 1B because I had to work that day so this was going to be my last bullet for sure.”
He bagged up 112,000 but thought his run was over after losing a big pot early on Day 2 to knock him down to 10 big blinds. However, he rallied and went on what he described as the run of a lifetime that evening.
“The final two hours were just wild I might have blacked out, to be honest. Everything I did worked. If I wanted some extra value here it work, if I bluffed, it worked. I was at a really tough table with some really good players I felt so fortunate to bag the chip lead.”
Platt was able to ride that momentum all the way to the fourth-place finish, and he was helped along by an amazing supporting rail both live and virtually. It started with Ben Ludlow, a former PokerNews employee turned poker pro, who provided live updates on his Twitter throughout the final day and a half. Family and friends flew in from Texas, and media members from all outlets came to support their fellow colleagues. For Platt, the support was overwhelming.
“I simply don’t have the words to describe what it’s been like over the course of this event. It felt like everyone in the Rio was rooting for me, and anyone on Twitter who’s remotely related to poker Twitter was rooting for me. It was genuinely touching to me how much support I had. That is what I will take away from that experience.”
Despite the big score, Platt has no plans on quitting his day job. In fact, he will be completing one of his new work dreams next month, when he will be providing sideline coverage for the Super Bowl of Poker, the WSOP Main Event.
“If you’re passionate about the industry you work in, you always want to reach the highest level, and for us in poker, that level is working the WSOP Main Event. I’ve said it before, the only thing better than playing the Main Event for me personally, is covering the Main Event. Fortunately for me, that opportunity is available for me as I’ll be sideline reporting for the PokerGO.”
Platt went on to sing the praises of one former media member who had that job, Kara Scott, who has been out of the poker spotlight for a few years now while she focuses on building a family in Europe.
“I won’t even say that I’ll try to fill Kara Scott’s shoes, because that kind of role is absolutely impossible. She’s iconic to me and I’ve looked up to her for a while now. She’s an incredible broadcaster and somehow a better human being, so I can’t come in and expect to replace her because that’s impossible.”
From starting out playing $20 sit-n-gos with his college friends at USC, to now playing and reporting on the biggest stage in poker, it’s been difficult for Platt to put things in perspective just yet.
“We are not even 24 hours removed at the time of talking. I’m just so thankful for so many people who have supported me. It’s amazing to look back where we were when you and I started playing in college to where we are now, it’s truly unbelievable. I’ve probably used the words fortunate and lucky just in this interview about 100 times but I just cant’ stop saying it.”
A wise man once said “Luck is what happens when hard preparation meets opportunity,” and it certainly looks like Jeff Platt is not going to throw away his shot in Las Vegas.