When you think about poker as a TV commodity in the UK, it’s largely confined to the shadowy depths late, late-night television. You stumble across it while searching for the best soft-core pornography you don’t money to watch. Full Tilt Poker (FTP) is attempting to trump this assertion, and a poker tournament worth a million dollars is some way to do it.
It’s different to other televised poker in that it’s on at a reasonable time of the day, 7pm, and being broadcast on Sky Sports 2 and HD2, means it’s available to pretty much everyone in the UK. The Poker Million has been running since 2000, with sponsorship shifting over to FTP last year, and this year’s one has a host of names that everyone watching will be familiar with. Amongst the eight players is a football club chairman, two-time WSOP bracelet winner, and two of the best players Scandinavia has to offer.
Headlining the octet of stars is the poker circuit veteran, and holder of WSOP bracelets, Howard Lederer. One of the founders of FTP, 2010 hasn’t been massively kind to one of the elder of the groups contesting this final, after he lost the Tournament of Champions to Huck Seed earlier this year. This was compounded by the fact that Lederer’s side bet with Phil Ivey looks certain not to go his way after the Tiger Woods of poker won one of the two bracelets he needs over the next two years.
It all means Lederer could do with the $1million that comes with this title. Being in the final twice before will stand him in good stead, and it will all go towards that $5m it looks like he’ll be delivering to Mr Ivey.
The opposite can be said for one of the Brit’s left in the competition, James Bord. From London originally, he took down the WSOPE Main Event in the capital of the iGaming universe little over two months ago and could top off an excellent year with another of poker’s prestigious titles.
You feel that a televised poker event wouldn’t be the same without him, so the presence of Barny Boatman is very appropriate. It will be his second appearance on the Poker Million final table and you wouldn’t bet against the Boatman taking it home for the Hendon Mob.
Winning the event would be quite the birthday gift for the first of the two Scandinavians left in the competition, Patrik Antonius, who turns 30 in three days time. After winning the biggest pot in online history and having the highest earnings of any poker player in 2009, Antonius will be hoping that 2010 finishes much like a year ago. Hell maybe he’ll get to party with his new online playing buddy Cristiano Ronaldo if he wins!
If Antonius thought 2010 was going well then he doesn’t have to look much further than fellow Monte Carlo resident Gus Hansen. The Great Dane won his first WSOP bracelet at the WSOPE in London back in September and this will be his debut on the felt of Sky Sports.
Tony Bloom is unique in being the only player on this year’s table that is the chairman of the football, he shouldn’t be discounted for this though. Bloom has graced the Poker Million final with his presence twice before, and will be looking to make it third time lucky.
Winner of the runners-up heat, Seth Webber is the first of two Internet qualifiers to be taking their place on the table. The online pro Gary Peniket, who’s making his live television debut, completes the eight-man field.
Remember to tune in tonight at 7pm on Sky Sports 2 and HD2 to see the action unfold. Unfortunately, we can’t promise there will be any free porn on the other channels, so you might just have to watch the Poker Million!