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Top-10 WSOP events we'd like to see on ESPN4 May 2009
True poker fans received a bit of a jolt last week when ESPN announced its broadcast schedule for the 2009 World Series of Poker. The network will air 15 weeks of WSOP coverage beginning July 28, but just two bracelet events will be shown and the only game that will be seen will be No Limit Texas Hold'em.
It's understandable what Harrah's, the WSOP and ESPN are trying to do here. While the Main Event is and will always be the anchor of its WSOP coverage, they want recognizable "stars" to have more of a presence during their coverage. And they'll get just that by covering tournaments like the Ante Up For Africa charity event and the newly conceived $40,000 Hold'em Championship and WSOP Champions Invitational events.
The powers at be realize that the die-hard poker fans will be watching no matter what. But by covering events with celebrities from inside and outside the poker world they will be able to draw the "casual fans" and by airing just Hold'em tournaments they won't put off this group of viewers with games they may not recognize.
"What we've learned from the past is that games other than No Limit Hold'em do not draw as big of an audience for TV," Pollack explained last week.
So we can appreciate the reasons behind the change in format. And we're honestly looking forward to seeing these new events on TV. But the bottom line is that ESPN's coverage isn't as diverse as it could be, at least from a true poker fan's perspective.
Here's a look at 10 additional events we'd like to see on the tube this summer when we settle in each Tuesday night for our weekly fix of WSOP coverage:
10. Ladies $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em World Championship
9. $5,000 No-Limit Hold'em Shootout
8. $10,000 World Championship Omaha Hi-Low
7. $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event
6. $10,000 World Championship Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball
5. $2,500 Seven Card Razz
4. $1,000 No-Limit Hold'em
3. $10,000 World Championship Seven Card Stud
2. $10,000 World Championship Heads Up No-Limit
1. $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E.
First of all, seeing the game change so much within the same tournament adds to the theater since you get to see the players change their strategies and styles on the fly. In addition, many players would probably tell you that they would rather win this tournament than the Main Event. The players feel that this is the truest test of poker and the huge buy-in results in only top-notch players being involved in the chase.
The inaugural H.O.R.S.E. event was captured by Chip Reese, who passed away later that year and now the trophy given to the winner of the tournament is dedicated to the well-liked and respected Reese. That makes the tournament that much more meaningful. And who can forget Scotty Nguyen's drunken run to the title last year? If that's not must-see-TV, we don't know what is.
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