Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NAPT Debuts on ESPN2

North American Poker TourWatched some of that NAPT Venetian $25,000 “High Roller” Bounty Shootout event on ESPN2 last night. Only saw the first hour before I had to hit the sack, but I recorded the rest. It appeared they were devoting both hours to the first round of that event -- i.e., the seven seven-handed tables, the winners of which met a couple of days later at the final table. Looks like next Monday there will be a couple more hours devoted to the NAPT Venetian -- one hour showing the Shootout final table, then one showing the Main Event final table.

Wasn’t sure what they were going to do with the three hours for the High Rollers, but it didn’t surprise me to see ESPN2 showing all of this first round action, given all of the big names among the field. I helped cover both “flights” that first day -- the afternoon one (which was shown during the first hour) and then the evening one (second hour). Wrote a little about how that long day went here.

From what I saw of that first hour, the coverage of the three simultaneous tables was pretty good, although necessarily a bit choppy (and, of course, dominated by the all-ins). That feature table match in which Hoyt Corkins eventually outlasted John Duthie to win actually took about seven hours, with Duthie pretty much dominating Corkins during the couple of hours of heads up, only for the cowboy to get very lucky to hit a runner-runner hand to survive, then beat the Brit. Didn’t necessarily see that narrative develop quite that way during the show last night, given the need to edit down.

I kind of wonder how the show went for those who weren’t already familiar with how those tables had played out. Seemed like ESPN did a decent job with the graphics updating the number of bounties folks had captured and chip counts on each of the tables, but my sense was all of the back-and-forthing probably made the show seem a bit different from your usual poker tourney show.

There was a piece over on PokerNews a few days ago by Matthew Parvis in which he pointed out how the “High Roller” event at the recently-completed NAPT Mohegan Sun (also a $25,000 buy-in) had seen a dip in the number of entrants (from 49 to 35), and that the future of that event may be in doubt moving forward. Of course, the Main Event there drew a healthy 716 players, following up on the NAPT Venetian having attracted 872 to its Main Event (both $5,000 buy-ins).

As Parvis notes, online qualifiers are helping big time here, and while I like the prospects of the NAPT moving forward, I think its continued success hinges greatly on that part of the equation remaining unchanged. In other words, looking at the World Poker Tour and WSOP-Circuit events and their respective struggles with declining fields, it seems clear the NAPT probably needs those online qualifiers to keep flourishing.

We still await word on future NAPT events. I am sure some are in the works, though I’ve no guess when the announcement of those stops may come. I am not sure whether the looming deadline for banks and financial institutions to start enforcing the final regulations of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (on June 1) is necessarily a factor here, but I suppose it could be.

Obviously the UIGEA being enforced might prove something of a fly in the ointment for the NAPT, but I do hope it doesn’t overly affect the tour’s growth.

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Blogger WillWonka said...

Weirdest thing. This was blacked out for me on Direct TV? I have no reason as to why?

I also have cable and it was on there without issues.

Very strange. I could never find a reason why.

4/20/2010 1:06 PM  
Blogger F-Train said...

In Cox Communication's tv-based program listings, the event was listed as "Poker Stars".

Online qualifiers are definitely key to NAPT's continued success, but a slick television production on a major network will surely help.

4/20/2010 8:13 PM  

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