The World Poker Tour will continue to fly the flag for televised poker stateside after they agreed to a new five-year broadcast deal with Fox Sports Regional Networks.
Long before my romance with live tournament poker was punctured by 8-hours of watching Szabolcs Mayer fumbling with his chips in the heads-up finale of the Season IX World Poker Tour (WPT) Venice Main Event, there was the picture-perfect WPT TV slot that pulled me in.
There was the beauty of Shana Hiatt and the Royal Flush Girls. There was the chemistry between a commentary team that reminded me of the WWE owner Vince McMahon and some dude from Miami Vice. And then you had the action. None of the boring folds, and nothing but boom, boom, boom. The shiny lure of the WPT dragged me into poker, and I wonder how many more have followed my lead in the past 14-years?
Televised poker may have lost a few limbs after the online poker rooms fled the States in the wake of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). The Internet and growth of live streaming sites like Twitch and YouTubeGaming may have changed the landscape. But televised poker remains a critical tributary into the game for new players.
So it’s great news to hear that FOX Sports Network (FSN) has agreed to extend their current broadcasting deal with the WPT for another five years. The new agreement also incorporates an additional 13 hours of original WPT footage per season. The deal runs through to the end of Season XIX, sometime in 2021.
FSN’s Executive Director, Josh Oakley, called the WPT a ‘key part’ of their Sunday primetime viewing and called poker the ‘perfect compliment’ to their other sporting programmes.
WPT Chief, Adam Pliska, was over the moon about the deal pointing out the continued exposure for their mainstream sponsors such as Hublot and Monster.
Executive Tour Director for the WPT, Matt Savage was keen to thank Pliska for his contract negotiation skills, and I feel the whole of poker should also be indebted to him because they have been the main face of poker on TV, stateside, for the past decade and a half.
— Matt Savage (@SavagePoker) August 17, 2016