Sunday, October 16, 2011

Every Hand of 2011 WSOP November Nine To Be Shown on ESPN/ESPN2 (With Hole Cards)

2011 November NineOn Friday I was lamenting the cancellation of one of the more popular poker shows on the television schedule, the “NBC National Poker Heads-Up Championship.” However, today I wake up to positive news regarding poker on the teevee. For this year’s 2011 WSOP Main Event final table (a.k.a., the “November Nine”), every single hand will be shown with hole cards on ESPN and ESPN2. No shinola!

The sucker happens just three weeks from today. Kind of snuck up on us, hasn’t it?

I say that because there hasn’t really been much hype at all regarding the weekly ESPN shows, the ratings for which I understand have fallen off considerably. The extensive live and sorta-live stuff from July might be one factor having caused the drop in numbers. Meanwhile the change in production companies (from 441 Productions to Poker PROductions) and subsequent “new look” of the shows might possibly have turned off some viewers as well.

Nor has there been a heckuva lot of buzz about the nine players, other than perhaps Ben Lamb finally clinching that 2011 WSOP Player of the Year yesterday when Phil Hellmuth busted from the WSOPE Main Event on Day 1a. Matt Giannetti (currently third in chips) actually won the WPT Malta event a few weeks ago, but there was relatively little fanfare surrounding that.

Indeed, I was just thinking this week about how little has been said about this year’s November Nine, as well as how the ratings for the final table show were probably doomed to experience a precipitous drop this time around. But I think this news might change that.

Play will begin at 11:30 a.m. Vegas time (2:30 p.m. ET) on Sunday, November 6. Instead of playing down to heads-up, they’ll be stopping at three players this time. Those three will then come back on Tuesday, November 8 at 5:00 p.m. local time -- which’ll be 8 p.m. or prime time in the east -- to play down to a winner.

Every single hand will be shown on ESPN or ESPN2 on a 15-minute delay with hole cards. (Get ready for those debates about players learning of each others’ holdings as the final table plays out.) For those outside the U.S., it will all be additionally streamed online at It’ll be streamed on ESPN3 as well, although I don’t know if folks outside the U.S. can see that or not. (Indeed, not many of us inside the U.S. can.)

This wasn’t the original plan, I don’t believe, the 2011 WSOP Media Guide having suggested we were just going to get the usual two-hour Tuesday night package as in past years. Cool stuff, eh? Have to say this announcement got my attention this morning, not to mention has revived my interest in seeing how the tourney will play out.

By the way, here’s how the stacks are looking for the final nine:

Seat 1: Matt Giannetti (U.S.) -- 24,750,000
Seat 2: Badih Bounahra (Belize) -- 19,700,000
Seat 3: Eoghan O'Dea (Ireland) -- 33,925,000
Seat 4: Phil Collins (U.S.) -- 23,875,000
Seat 5: Anton Makiievskyi (Ukraine) -- 13,825,000
Seat 6: Sam Holden (U.K.) -- 12,375,000
Seat 7: Pius Heinz (Germany) -- 16,425,000
Seat 8: Ben Lamb (U.S.) -- 20,875,000
Seat 9: Martin Staszko (Czech Republic) -- 40,175,000

There will be a little over a half-hour left in Level 36 when play resumes on November 6, with the blinds 250,000/500,000 and a 50,000 ante.

Yes, I think I might just have to miss some football that Sunday.

(EDIT [added 10/18/11]: The schedule has been updated slightly since first making the announcement. Now the scheduled times are to begin with the November Nine coverage at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 6, then start with the final three on Tuesday, November 8 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The plan remains to show all hands [with hole cards] on a 15-minute delay on both ESPN2 and ESPN3 [online]. I assume from the earlier announcement coverage can be still viewed on the site as well.)

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