Tuesday, April 27, 2010

ESPN and the 2010 WSOP

Shamus watches the WSOP on ESPNWatched some of the coverage of that North American Poker Tour Venetian last night on ESPN2. Kind of drifted in and out during the first hour, though I did see the final hands of that $25,000 “High Roller” Bounty Shootout event won by Ashton Griffin. I was on my way home from the Venetian by that point (back in February), and so hadn’t really followed too much of how that had gone down at the time.

Enjoyed seeing my bud Marc Hodge (with whom I helped cover the first round of the High Roller event) sitting there in the front row sweating his bud Brett Richey. Lots of camera time for Marc last night as he sat there with Bryan Micon.

Also watched some of the Main Event final table, although had to hit the sack before it was done. I do want to go back and see those last couple of hands, though, which saw Tom Marchese end up taking it down against Sam Stein. Some might recall how Stein -- chip leader for the entire final table up until that point -- made two curious calls against Marchese to end the tourney. Read here for details of that somewhat surprising finish to the event.

I’ll echo F-Train’s positive assessment of last week’s NAPT coverage by ESPN, adding another kudos for what I saw of it last night. Fun stuff, and hopefully the tour will gather some momentum via these episodes and continue to thrive. The next couple of weeks (May 3 and May 10) will feature coverage of the NAPT Mohegan Sun. Then the following week (May 17) there will be two more hours devoted to the High Roller event from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, also dubbed a “NAPT” event.

That’ll take us right up until the WSOP essentially. Speaking of, there was news last week of ESPN’s plans for their 2010 WSOP coverage. Looks like they’ll be following the pattern of recent years by forgoing most of the preliminary events and almost exclusively concentrating on the Main Event.

According to Poker News Daily, ESPN will start airing WSOP stuff on July 20, just days after we all go home from the Rio. After a 2009 WSOP recap show that week, it looks like the plan is next to show the final table from the $50,000 buy-in “Poker Player’s Championship” event (Event No. 2) on July 27. Then the following week (August 3) will come the final table of that WSOP “Tournament of Champions” -- that “all-star” game for which voting continues over on the WSOP site.

And that’ll be it as far as non-Main Event coverage goes. From August 10 right up until November, ESPN will once again take us though all of the days of the ME, leading up to the “November Nine.”

ESPNFor the last couple of years, whenever the new ESPN sked has been announced, I’ve written posts here offering some opinions regarding the shift in coverage away from preliminary bracelet events and the increasing emphasis on the Main Event. Those posts -- “ESPN’s 2008 WSOP Schedule -- The Main Event (Mainly)” & “On ESPN’s Coverage of the WSOP” -- both express a desire to see more than just the Main Event (and just no-limit hold’em). But they also show some enthusiasm, too, over the expansion of the coverage each year in terms of total hours.

This time around I find myself having become more acclimated to the current focus on the ME as far as ESPN goes. Thus am I not really pining so much to go back to 2004-2005 when we got to see all of those preliminary events (even Razz!). I suppose I’ve also pretty much accepted the November Nine, too, an idea which I didn’t like initially and still think mucks way too much with how the tourney should be played.

But given all the current legal machinations going on with regard to online poker, as well as other uncertainties regarding the game’s future, I think I’m mostly done with lamenting the lack of this or that kind of coverage, and am simply glad to see coverage at all.

’Cos really, it is easy to see that ESPN’s continued involvement with the WSOP -- and its adding things like the NAPT to their poker offerings -- is ultimately very good for poker. For those who play and for those who write about it, too.

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