More poker on TV

Apr 24, 2006 2:15 AM

Poker fans who enjoy watching their favorite pastime on TV now have more reason to zone out in front of the tube. The anticipated Professional Poker Tour (PPT) from WPT Enterprises, Inc., creator of the World Poker Tour, will launch on Wednesday, July 5 at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel.

The new series will showcase poker’s 250 leading stars in an exciting format, and could ratchet up televised poker to a whole new level.

The idea is to showcase poker’s top players, similar to the way the PGA showcases its top touring professional golfers.

The first season of action will stretch over 24 weeks, spotlighting a stellar lineup of poker’s All-Stars — champions from the World Poker Tour, World Series of Poker, and European poker tournaments.

Enticed by five "freeroll" tournaments with a total of $2.5 million in prize money provided by the PPT, the game’s legends and new young idols face off in four grueling quarters of tournament play and one championship round.

Famous poker faces will include Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker, Antonio Esfandiari, Bobby Baldwin, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, David "Devilfish" Ulliott, Samy Farha, Mel Judah, Scotty Nguyen, Erick Lindgren, Phil "The Unabomber" Laak, Huck Seed, Tom McEvoy, Layne Flack, Carlos Mortensen, Chip Reese, Erik Seidel, Lyle Berman, Kathy Liebert, T.J. Cloutier, and Linda Johnson.

With its PPT qualification system, the Professional Poker Tour has ensured the highest level of play at each and every tournament. For its inaugural year, players receive membership based on their previous poker accomplishments — including winning a WPT event, playing at more than one WPT Final Table in a season, placing in the top six at the WPT World Championship, by scoring as a top 10 point leader in WPT Player-of-the-Year rankings, by winning or placing among the final six at the $10K buy-in Main Event at the World Series of Poker, by securing a spot Player of the Year Top 10 lists, or by being a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

The shows take the viewers through the tournament start to conclusion, focusing on one featured table each day of the event.

However, every time a player goes "All-In" anywhere in the room, cameras rush to the table to catch the action. As many as 15 tables will get their moment in the sun with "All-In" action throughout the preliminary rounds.

The Final Table is distinctive as well. Players at the Final Table must beat the 90-second clock in making their play or surrender their hand. A player may invoke his "time bank allowance" to extend that time period only once during the Final Table play.

The hosts include two-time World Series bracelet winner and WPT finalist Mark Seif, an accomplished and well-regarded player who left a law practice to play professional poker, and talented actor Matt Corboy, a veteran of such shows as JAG, Malcolm in the Middle, West Wing and Spin City, along with field reporter Kaye Han, a lovely and exotic beauty who has played poker for much of her life.

The five PPT tournaments were filmed at some of America’s true palaces of poker — Foxwoods Resort Casino, Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Bay 101 in San Jose, California, Bellagio and The Mirage in Las Vegas.

With the inauguration of the PPT on Wednesday nights, immediately on the heels of the conclusion of the WPT season, poker fans will be treated to 44 weeks of first-run poker action on the Travel Channel.