Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ESPN’s Coverage of 2009 World Series of Poker Begins Tonight

Shamus settles in to enjoy ESPN's coverage of the 2009 WSOPTonight ESPN begins what will eventually be 16 consecutive Tuesday nights’ worth of coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker.

I remember when the schedule was first announced in the spring, there was general disappointment (including around here at Hard-Boiled Poker) over the fact that almost none of the preliminary events, including the much-ballyhooed $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, were going to get any airplay this time around. Indeed, of the 32 scheduled hours, just two of them -- those airing tonight -- would have anything to do with a non-Main Event bracelet tourney.

I’m starting to come around, though, to understanding ESPN’s way of thinking. Actually, I always understood it -- ratings is all, and that’s that -- but part of me continued to be possessed by the notion that that WSOP is not simply one event, nor is it simply no-limit hold’em, and thus focusing almost exclusively on the Main Event seemed to ignore a bit too blatantly what it was ESPN was covering.

The creation of the November Nine last year, though, has really changed everything. The Main Event was always special, but delaying the final table four months has essentially segregated the ME from the rest of the Series as an event unto itself. And having been there again this summer for the first eight days of play, I’ll admit I’m genuinely intrigued to see how ESPN crafts their Main Event narrative this time around.

Three other quick thoughts in anticipation of the coverage:

1. With regard to the Main Event, I am curious to see what ESPN does with those wildly disparate Day Ones, with only 800-plus players having shown on Day 1B and nearly 3,000 on Day 1D. Of course, the bulk of the coverage always comes from the feature tables anyway, so the difference probably won’t be all that noticeable. I know from covering both of those days, though, that there was a heck of lot more of interest on 1D than on 1B.

2. I really want to see the WSOP Champions Invitational next week, which was going on while I was on Event No. 2 and thus I was unable to catch more than brief glimpses when it took place. That said, I have no interest whatsoever in watching the Ante Up for Africa Celebrity-Charity Event, though I understand how that one will get a few viewers who won’t otherwise be interested in the coverage.

3. Tonight’s Event No. 2 final table was, of course, the first of the Series I helped cover for PokerNews -- along with Change100, who rocked the hand-for-hand, and the intrepid Mickey on the hand replayer -- and so I’m familiar with the players and hands, perhaps more so than with any other FT from the WSOP this year. I know most readers of this blog followed online and thus know the outcome, but even if you know how things turn out there should be some fun viewing tonight, with some seriously dramatic back-and-forth type hands. I’m also interested to see some of Vitaly Lunkin’s holdings, as he basically wasn’t showing a thing for most of the first half of the night while steadily building up his stack.

Here’s ESPN’s complete schedule:
  • July 28, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Event No. 2, the “Special 40th Annual $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em Event”
  • August 4, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- WSOP Champions Invitational
  • August 11, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Ante Up for Africa Celebrity-Charity Event
  • August 18, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 1A
  • August 25, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 1B
  • September 1, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 1C
  • September 8, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 1D
  • September 15, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 2A
  • September 22, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 2B
  • September 29, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 3
  • October 6, 8:00-10:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 4
  • October 13, 9:00-11:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 5
  • October 20, 9:00-11:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 6
  • October 27, 9:00-11:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 7
  • November 3, 9:00-11:00 p.m. -- Main Event Day 8
  • November 10, 9:00-11:00 p.m. -- Main Event Final Table
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