Lyle Berman’s WPT to go prime time!

Mar 11, 2003 5:56 AM

POKER BASKS IN GLOW OF KLIEG LIGHTS! The word is out that our friend Lyle Berman just inked a lucrative deal that will put his World Poker Tour on prime time TV this season.

Handling the broadcast of the world-class poker events will be the Travel Channel.

"We are extremely excited about the arrangement with the Travel Channel," Berman said. "Combining the sport of poker which is played by over 50 million people throughout the United States, with one of the most widely viewed cable channels will revolutionize poker in much the same way that Who Wants to be a Millionaire revolutionized game shows."

Insiders say the deal calls for the Travel Channel to pick up all the first-year production costs.

In return, the Travel Channel will have the exclusive right, license, and privilege to exhibit, otherwise use each of the first 13 two-hour programs produced by WPT for an unlimited number of times over the next three years.

The World Poker Tour is an international series of 13 poker tournaments united under one banner. The WPT travels to some of the most famous casinos and card rooms in the world including the Bicycle Casino in California; Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut; the Reno Hilton in Reno; and Bellagio in Las Vegas, which hosts the final tourney of the season next month.


WHAT A GHOSTLY SIGHT: Last month, the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino and Bally’s Las Vegas shut down the monorail that for several years had transported visitors from one property to the other without charge. The free ride was well appreciated in a society where little is free, anymore.

But, like the saying goes, "Every good thing must come to an end," or something like that, and the two properties announced last month that the free rides were being terminated while work was instituted that would make the trams compatible with the new system under construction that will run to hotels from one end of the Strip to the other.

So, it seems somewhat odd to look out across Interstate 15 and the Strip to see the trams still running back and forth just like they have since they were installed.

However, now they are empty! How sad.


HERE’S ANOTHER "ONLY IN AMERICA" STORY: We didn’t hear him, but when boxing promoter Don King successfully counted nearly a half-million pay-per-view bookings at $49.95 for the ho-hum Jones-Ruiz fight, he probably proclaimed his favorite phrase, "Only in America."

That probably was the same phrase shouted by pinhooker Becky Thomas and her partner, Lewis Lakin, last week when a horse they had purchased a year earlier for $30,000 was sold in California for $2.7 million.

Pinhookers, by the way, are those who gamble by buying a yearling colt one year and selling the horse a year later.

The Thomas/Lakin duo bought the yearling colt by Sea of Secrets last July at the Fasig Tipton Kentucky July sale.

The buyer, a patron of famed trainer Bob Baffert who will train the colt, was Canadian diamond miner Charles Fipke.


A CRASH AT THE WRONG TIME: For Betfair, a computer crash at any time will be a problem, but when their computer system went down last week in England, it affected their action on the very important three-day Cheltenham Festival when the expected betting action was expected to reach the $500 million mark.

Internet betting has been growing, and in England Betfair has been leading the way.

Rather than just betting in the normal fashion, Betfair works as a betting exchange, or better still, serving as a middleman between two action seekers who have opposite opinions. For instance, if one player favored Jones to beat Ruiz at 1-2 odds (slightly higher than the Las Vegas odds), Betfair would post the prop looking for one of its customers to accept the bet at those odds. Once found, the bet is made with Betfair taking a very minor commission.

Business has been so tremendous, Betfair felt it had to upgrade its computer to handle the action. But, the upgrade failed and the system crashed.

Just to evaluate the costs, Betfair was expected to handle about 95% of that $500 million.