“A year ago, I don’t know that anybody could have predicted poker would be the next big thing,” said Mike Antinoro, executive producer for ESPN Original Entertainment. “It’s really incredible how it’s taken over.”
Poker is one of the hottest programs on TV networks of all kinds. “The World Poker Tour” has become the signature series of the Travel Channel. Bravo has “Celebrity Poker Showdown.” NBC uses poker to compete against the Super Bowl.
Fox Sports Net has two series – “Late Night Poker” and “Championship Poker at the Plaza” – and will present the first live poker broadcast with a $1 million tournament Wednesday at Turning Stone Resort and Casino near Syracuse.
But no network has embraced the poker craze like the self-acclaimed and Togel Hongkong “worldwide leader in sports.” ESPN’s second World Series of Poker season began Tuesday night and will run through mid-September. The network last month dedicated an incredible 22 hours of a 24-hour span to air reruns of last year’s World Series of Poker.
ESPN also signed a multiyear deal with the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City to air the U.S. Poker Championship in January and February.
“We’re getting behind it Togel Hongkong because it does well and our audience wants it,” Antinoro said. “It’s gained its own attention. We’re just riding the wave, and we’re going to promote it.”
The NHL would love to have ratings similar to ESPN’s 2003 World Series of Poker, which was shown on seven tape-delay installments yet steadily gained viewers as the series progressed. The finale – shown months after it occurred – scored a 1.94 rating. Live NHL games on ESPN hovered around a 0.5 rating.
ESPN, with backing from corporate heavyweights in the brewing, automotive and pharmaceutical industries, expanded this year’s World Series of Poker to 22 episodes.
The first 13 episodes will show a variety of poker disciplines, such as seven-card stud, razz and Omaha, while the final nine episodes will feature the standard: no-limit Texas hold ’em.
Mike Gainey is intimately familiar with the game’s television boom.
The director of poker operations for Togel Hongkong Seneca Niagara’s properties in Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Irving has spent 30 years in the poker business and staged the most lucrative World Poker Tour event while running poker operations for the Reno Hilton.
“I think it’s just going to continue to grow,” Gainey said. “You’ve had casinos in recent years close their poker rooms to install slot machines. Now they’re taking the machines out and putting the poker rooms back.
“If they maintain the television exposure and don’t try to move too fast, then it will continue to grow. People will keep getting hooked.”
The key to poker’s television success has been the implementation of a small camera that allows viewers to see a player’s otherwise-private cards.
“Seeing the hole cards is like knowing what play the football coach is calling in the huddle,” said Jeff Shulman, president of leading poker magazine Card Player.
“Hold ’em is a much bigger bluffing game, and bluffs are exciting. That’s what’s selling poker on TV. You used to know bluffs were going on, but now you’re seeing it.”
Hold ’em is thrilling to play, but without those voyeuristic cameras it was rather dull to watch on TV whenever networks tried in the past.
A quick introduction to hold ’em:
- Each player receives and bets on the two “hole cards” only he or she can use.
- Three community cards (also known as “the flop”) are revealed, followed by another round of betting.
- A fourth community card (“the turn”) precedes more betting action.
- After the fifth community card (“the river”) is flipped over, final bets are made and players show their hands, using the best five cards of the seven available.
Hold ’em becomes even more riveting when it’s played no-limit. There’s no maximum bet, meaning a player can push all of his money into the pot at anytime.
The ability to go “all-in” creates the biggest drama because, as Soda said, “The bluff is so important in poker. Without the bluff it would just be pinochle or euchre or any other card game.”
Soda dropped Togel Hongkong out of the University of Rochester and enjoyed brief success as a pro bowler before getting into the computer industry and moving to Southern California. He started playing poker in the legal card rooms there but soon found himself making enough money at Internet poker to quit his job.
The 29-year-old, who has since moved back to the City of Tonawanda, said he made $48,000 last year playing poker online. Two weeks ago, he won a cyber-tournament that paid him $3,600 for a couple of hours’ work. He won his World Series of Poker seat after investing $300 and placing in an online event.
Soda is able to make Internet poker profitable because so many others are playing – for real money and for pretend chips – on sites such as PartyPoker.com, PokerStars.com, ParadisePoker.com and UltimateBet.com.
“You have all these people learning how to play hold ’em poker online,” Shulman said. “It used to be the only way to play it was at a couple tournaments a year and at the few casinos in the world that offered it. Now you can play it right in your own home.”
In one 24-hour period Monday, $101 million was wagered in online poker rooms, according to PokerPulse.com, a site that monitors the industry.
Local poker enthusiasts can get the latest information or discuss the judi slot game in open forums at BuffaloPoker.com.
“America’s in love with poker, but it will never be as good as it is right now,” Soda said. “Once enough people exercise their right to play a little bit, they’ll lose what they can afford and then they’ll realize, “Hey, I can’t afford to keep doing this.’ ”
Others not only disagree, they’re also banking on poker’s continued growth.
“I don’t think it’s slowing down,” Antinoro said. “It’s bringing people back to the game again. People are following it. More and more people know more and more of these players. The personalities are there.
“The pots keep getting bigger and bigger.”