Poker plays its TV hand

Mar 12, 2002 6:59 AM

To the skeptics who say poker is too boring for TV, Steve Lipscomb brings you the “Leg Cam.”

Imagine a tiny camera under a table of nine players, all SI swimsuit models or Playboy bunnies. Now that’s the kind of view that could draw huge TV ratings. Alas, we will have to settle for just being able to see the hands the competitors will be playing. Still, that could  prove to be as interesting and dramatic as golf, if promoted right. That’s where Lipscomb comes in.

“Nobody in the broadcast world has taken the chance to make poker a happening sport,” he said when contacted at his Los Angeles office. “Most people I know have regular poker games. It’s more popular than bowling and billiards. Poker is the preferred card game played in every 19th hole locker room in country clubs across the nation.”

Lipscomb is combining his TV expertise with the financial backing of Lyle Berman at Lakes Gaming, who gave his thoughts and financial blessing to this venture in a story that GamingToday broke last week.

“We will be what Millionaire was to game shows,” Lipscomb said. “Our plan is to provide people the opportunity to watch the best in poker and compete  against them.

“You can’t walk on a golf course and play with Tiger Woods, but it’s possible to sit  next to Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson and have a chance at winning,” he continued. “We are going to spend double what anyone has  spent previously to shoot a poker tournament.”

Brunson is confident TV will take poker to a new level, with the “Leg Cam” providing the means to both educate and raise the interest surrounding each deal of the cards.

Neither the venues nor the TV contract has been finalized, but Brunson figures a 13-week schedule the first year on cable at sites both in the U.S. and abroad,  including Las Vegas.

“It will be great exposure for the casinos and poker,” he said. “We feel this is a three-year project. The audience is there.”