Poker coming to TV

Jan 6, 2003 12:49 AM

by GT Staff

The cameras will roll, the cards will be dealt, and bluffs will be made, but only the best will achieve the status of world-class poker player and walk away with millions of dollars in prize money ”¦ while millions of TV viewers watch in anticipation.

Soon, poker will find a new platform on the television screens of mainstream America as the World Poker Tour launches a weekly series of poker shows in 2003.

In the competitive world of high stakes poker, the "final table" is comparable to the final episode of Survivor. But, unlike professional sports or reality shows that require years of training or auditioning, anyone can enter a poker tournament.

Think you’re a good player? All you have to do is put up the $5,000 to $10,000 entry fees to enter the most prestigious No Limit Hold’em tournaments in the world where millions of dollars of prize money await.

Featuring a series of 13 two-hour television shows, World Poker Tour events have become the talk of the poker world. Beginning at Bellagio in Las Vegas and continuing through April 2003, the World Poker Tour’s first season is proving to be a dramatically unique and highly watchable event.

With its massive arena, WPT puts the final table under the spotlight while three hundred spectators witness the high stakes, the bad beats, and the final showdown. As the audience cheers and the tension builds, players risk all the chips they have as they vie for the first prize which can range from $250,000 up to over $1,000,000!

But, this show goes even further. The WPT gets inside the minds of the players with in-depth play-by-play analysis by poker champion Mike Sexton and veteran actor/poker expert Vince Van Patten while former Wild On E! host Shana Hiatt reveals all the glamour and glory within the big money world of high stakes poker.

Best of all, the home audience will see the players’ hole cards revealed on television. No longer will you wonder "is he bluffing with a deuce seven off-suit or did he make the nut flush?"

You’ll see it all on the TV screen as you root for your favorite players. And, according to Mike Sexton, "Watching the show and getting into the heads of the best players in the world gives you a shot at improving your own game."

Producer-filmmaker Steven Lipscomb and billionaire gaming entrepreneur Lyle Berman, a champion poker player, have teamed up to create the World Poker Tour, assembling a who’s who of the nation’s most prestigious venues as Charter Members, including Bellagio, Commerce Casino, and Foxwoods.

Lipscomb states, "When we expose this phenomenon to the American public through the dynamic medium of television, look out poker world!"

At the end of January, the Tour heads to Tunica, Mississippi to film The Fourth Annual Jack Binion World Poker Open at the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel and Gold Strike Casino Resort.

WPT will film the final table on January 31 in front of a live audience for broadcast in 2003. For those with a passion for poker, the buy-in is $10,000. For those who prefer to live vicariously, the public is invited to attend and admission to the TV taping is free.

Following the Horseshoe tournament, the World Poker Tour heads to Paris, France to film at the Aviation Club de France in February. Beginning February 21, WPT will cover the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino outside Los Angeles.

Immediately following the Commerce event, WPT will host the WPT Invitational $200,000 Free-roll. This exclusive event is by invitation-only and matches the hippest celebrities in Hollywood against the All Stars of poker.

This groundbreaking event will feature legends from the WPT series, Hall of Fame players, World Champions, VIP’s, celebrities and familiar faces from the poker circuit. WPT will film the final table on February 26 in front of a live audience for broadcast later in 2003. If you’d like a seat in the audience for the TV taping, contact the Commerce Casino to reserve your complimentary ticket.

"Poker has been the subject of many great Hollywood films and is popping up in mainstream television shows, so it’s only appropriate that the celebrity event be held in Los Angeles. This is the premiere arena for celebrities who love poker to play against the legends of poker. This first Invitational promises to be a unique and exciting tournament," says Audrey Kania, Sr. Vice President.

In addition to the millions of dollars in tournament prize pools, the winners of WPT events also receive a $25,000 buy-in to the WPT Championship at Bellagio, Las Vegas on April 14-18. Again, anyone can enter this tournament where the WPT Champion will be crowned. Other events on the WPT tour include March 1-8 PartyPoker.com Caribbean Cruise and March 31-April 2 at the Reno Hilton in Nevada. For more information on the tournament schedule, go to the WPT website at www.worldpokertour.com.

At press time, a TV broadcast deal was in final negotiations. The WPT plans to begin airing the shows in April 2003. The poker world has high hopes that the WPT series will become the next major league TV sport, providing high-concept production and high stakes competition for national TV.