The Life of WSOP Commentator Lon McEachern

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If you are a World Series of Poker fan, the name of Lon McEachern certainly rings a bell. Norman Chad’s sidekick (or is it the other way around?), McEachern has been dubbed the voice of poker for his continuous TV coverage and commentary of the WSOP Main Event year after year.

Early Life and Career of Lon McEachern

Like the most of us, Lon McEachern didn’t get to where he is today thanks just to good fortune. Born in 1957 in Memphis, Tennessee, he would soon move to the San Francisco Bay Area with his family. Lon’s interest in sports was already apparent during his teen years, as he played baseball during his time at Redwood High.

After graduating from the high school in 1975, McEachern first enrolled with Santa Barbara City College and then proceeded to graduate from the University of California, acquiring B.A. in communications in 1980.

Like many others fresh-out-of-college communications graduate, Lon started his career at a radio. His first TV job was with KCOY-TV. After that, he moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1990s, where he worked for KGO-TV and KPIX-TV. All the while, McEachern was also involved with ESPN in a freelancer capacity.

Career Defining Moment for Lon McEachern

The TV world can (apparently) be quite cruel. By 2002, McEacher removed himself completely from the industry, not being able to find the right gig. He took up a job as a mortgage banker and it could have been the end of his announcing career.

But, Lady Luck had different plans for McEachern.

Just as he was about to leave the TV world behind him completely, a surprising opportunity appeared almost out of nowhere. A friend of Lon’s approached him with an offer from ESPN to do the commentary for the 2002 WSOP coverage. Although no one could say at the time, the opportunity couldn’t have possibly come at a better time.

WSOP Commentary and the Poker Boom

The ESPN gig was supposed to be a one-time thing. Lon teamed up with legendary Gabe Kaplan, whom most of poker fans know for his commentary of the High Stakes Poker. That year, the Main Event was won by the man who is often referred to as a “forgotten champion,” Robert Varkonyi.

The reason Varkonyi has become “forgotten” is not because he was the least impressive of the Main Event champions, but rather because the next year was the year of Chris Moneymaker, the man who won an online satellite to the WSOP Main Event for less than $100 and then proceeded to win the whole thing. The poker boom happened.

Thanks to the epic victory and all the hype that ESPN and PokerStars created, everyone suddenly started thinking they could be the next champion. There was hardly better time to be a part of the poker industry, and Lon McEachern was right there, on the very source.

Impressive WSOP Longevity Continues for 2019

McEachern has been the featured ESPN commentator since 2002, which receives massive exposure annually as the Main Event final table is shown live on both the main ESPN channel and ESPN2. It would be a shock if he doesn’t return in for what I expect to be an epic 2019 WSOP schedule.

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Norman Chad & Lon McEachern Duo

With the interest for poker skyrocketing, McEachern had finally found the right gig. Although he continued working as a mortgage banker for several more years, his contract with ESPN was shaping up into a great opportunity.

Lon teamed up with Norman Chad, another man who is now known to nearly every poker fan on the planet. The two of them managed to create a dynamic that we’ve all gotten used to. Norman usually provides the “expert” part, while Lon is there to keep us entertained with funny comments and remarks (often at Norm’s expense).

Interestingly enough, McEachern admits that he wasn’t particulary interested in poker at all before the ESPN opportunity came.

However, since that time, he’s come to love the game and now enjoys playing whenever he has time. His favorite game, somewhat surprisingly, isn’t Hold’em but Omaha Hi/Lo.

Masters of Improvisation

According to interviews McEachern gave to different media, the WSOP commentary is, for the most part, done “on the fly.” He says that neither Norman nor he have prepared scripts going into an episode or live broadcast (naturally). They come up with most of their commentary as the action unfolds and that gives the show an original feel.

Thanks to the fact the two of them have been working together for so long, they’ve managed to develop a really good dynamics and complement each other without almost any need for outside interventions.

Like any other public persona, Lon receives both praises and critiques from fans. While some love this improvised approach others feel like there should be more precise poker content commentary thrown in the mix. These critiques, of course, are at expense of both McEachern and Chad, but whatever you do you can’t make everyone happy.

The fact of the matter is, Lon McEachern and Norman Chad have, by this point, become an integral part of the WSOP Main Event coverage and it just wouldn’t be the same without them.

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Lon McEachern’s Personal Life and Other Gigs

McEachern got married in 1981 to Carol Czyzewski, an alumna from the University of Santa Barbara. They have raised two children together. Norman Chad has been married… Well, we should leave that part to Lon, as no one explains it better.

Non-Poker Commentary

Apart from his engagement with the WSOP Main Event coverage, McEachern has also taken up other commentary gigs for various sporting events and shows. He hosted 2009 TV MMA series “Strikeforce on NBC,” and had an opportunity to call at variety of sporting events, including skating, different martial arts, and even Tour de France.

In 2012-2013, he took his first gig as the PBA commentator, working side by side with a PBA legend and Hall of Fame member Randy Pedersen.