117 Days: WSOP Makes It Official

by , May 1, 2008 | 8:17 am

It’s a done deal.

The 2008 World Series of Poker main event will end on July 14 with nine final table players remaining. They will return to play on November 9, and the final two will play it out on November 10, and these two days will be condensed into two hours of programming to air on ESPN November 11 from 9pm – 11pm EST.

LAS VEGAS – May 1, 2008 – The World Series of Poker® (WSOP) Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light today announced a groundbreaking change that will more closely align the televised presentation of the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious poker tournament with other premier sports broadcasts.

The last nine players of the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16.

“Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “Now fans and viewers will ask ‘who will win’ our coveted championship bracelet instead of seeing ‘who won.’ The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented.”

This change in how the Main Event final table is staged will bring the excitement and drama of high-stakes WSOP tournament play closer to millions of fans around the globe.

All other 2008 WSOP tournament structures and schedules remain unchanged. This announcement affects only the final nine players of Event #54, the Main Event World Championship.

Continuing the trailblazing efforts that have made the WSOP the industry standard, this move is being made in close collaboration with ESPN, the television rightsholder of the WSOP, and the WSOP Players Advisory Council (PAC), the commissioner-appointed committee of professional and amateur poker players who provide guidance and perspective to the WSOP leadership team.

“It’s an exciting time for the World Series of Poker and ESPN,” said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN Content Development. “This adjustment will add a new element to a very successful and popular event. We look forward to documenting all of the exciting stories that make the WSOP Main Event the seminal competition in all of poker.”

“This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table and that is good for all of us,” said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and one of today’s most successful and popular poker professionals. “Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I’m very excited about this decision and can’t wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!”

The 39th annual World Series of Poker will take place from May 30th to July 14th at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event will begin on July 3rd, with the Final Table being determined on July 14th. The nine players who advance to the Final Table will return to the Rio on November 9th to play down to just two players. The final two, will go head-to-head late in the evening on November 10th to determine the champion and winner of poker’s ultimate prize.

The winner of the Main Event is expected to be crowned in the early hours of November 11. ESPN will edit the two-day Final Table action and televise it in a two-hour program from 9:00-11:00 PM ET on Tuesday, November 11 just hours after the winner is crowned. This is akin to television coverage of the Olympic Games, where because of time zone differences, the telecaster schedules programs “same day” in primetime to provide the largest possible audience a convenient viewing time.

ESPN will begin its coverage of the 2008 World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 22. Viewers will see two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through November 11 (except November 4 when a special preview of the Final Table will be aired at 10 p.m.). Telecasts will be aired at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 22 through September 30 and at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from October 7 through November 11.

Each of the players who make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table will receive ninth place prize money on July 14, when the finalists are determined. Harrah’s will then provide each of those players with an all expense paid trip for two for their return to Las Vegas in November to play the final portion of the tournament.

From July 14 to November 9, a span of 117 days, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available.

27 Comments to “117 Days: WSOP Makes It Official”

  1. Garry

    And they are going to seclude the final nine in protective bubbles till the day comes so nothing happens to them right?

  2. Fawcett

    This is one of the worst ideas I have ever seen.

  3. Dan M

    The last time I heard that sentence was when I brought up the idea of putting Batface correspondence about poker on the internet.

  4. Ed

    Fine…the second worst idea ever. 😛

    Still retarded if you ask me but I don’t see me being there so no worries at this point in time. Will just take longer to get my share of the money if they point winner in our poker tournament does make it to the final table.

  5. Uncle Ray

    My guess is that some of the “future millionaires” that are at the final table will have spent most of the money before they actually cash in.

    So, what happens if…
    a) Player A’s visa expires and he is sent back to wherever he came from
    b) Player B is in the hospital
    c) Player C is in prison

  6. DanM

    I think the plan is to blind off the absent player — though TD’s can always make a change mid-tourney if a better alternative presents itself … occasionally that even entails a vote by the remaining players.

    I suspect one of these days we might be able to handle A,B, and C situations online — with the equivalent of Hal Lubarsky’s assistant sitting at the final table. How awesome/scary would that be? (Hal Lubarsky, if you recall, is the blind guy, no pun intended, who went deep last year.)

  7. tbonezz111

    What if the Rio is bombed before the end of the wsop? What if the killer bees get into vegas and make it a ghost town? What if the end of the world happens before November?? There are so many what if’s to life that we could play the game on all levels for the rest of our lives, but, alas, we just live our lives one day at a time anyway.

    I think this is a great thing for poker(even though I think maybe 1 month vs. 3+ would be better) but I predict this will be a bigger boost to poker growth than the hole card cam. Mainstream America watch out, poker is coming into your life(and the fish pond will grow and grow and grow!)

  8. Garry

    I’d be less worried about buildings being there (events can be moved) but rather people being where they are suppose to be.
    It has the potential to be a rather bad move by the WSOP. Doyle doesn’t like it and that is enough for me.

  9. Marvin C

    Where it’s held matters little. What I think will happen though, it gives a lot of time to make deals. We all know that deals have been made in the past,with 117 days, there is plenty of time to make deals and plenty of time for the sponsors to broker deals.

    I think it will increase the rating for the first showing if they can keep the results off the web sites. However, if the results get out, it might actually decrease ratings. The few nonplaying viewers of poker don’t know when the tournament was played. Us poker players watch, although I tape them to cut the “Air Time” to see how the ppros play and maybe get a read of those we might play against.

  10. Kevin Mathers

    Regarding the final table, they’re not sequestering the players at the final table. In fact, they’re encouraging people to come to the Rio to watch. There’s also going to be hand for hand coverage on the various websites that have WSOP credentials (Bluff/Pokernews, CardPlayer, etc). Even though they haven’t announced a PPV yet, you’d think they’d do some sort of live stream (no hole cards of course) for the international audience. It’s not known yet when ESPN and it’s international partners will show this final table. If they do it at around the same time as the US audience sees it, then the point I suppose is moot.

  11. DanM

    ***Doyle doesn’t like it and that is enough for me.***

    Garry, got a link to his saying as much? I haven’t heard him say that yet?

  12. Marvin C

    Doyle was quoted in yesterday’s USA Today. The full quote was, “I don’t like it….I guess it will create a lot of hype. It seems a little overkill or something to me.”

  13. California Jen

    Kevin, there will not be a PPV. They didn’t mention the international audience on the conference call yesterday, so I’m not sure what’s going on with that.

    They did mention that anyone with media credentials, which I’m assuming is not limited to PokerNews and Bluff, will be able to post live final table action as it happens, even if it’s 24-48 hours before the ESPN broadcast. Pollack mentioned that he thinks that will cause even more people to be aware of it and tune in to see the actual show.

  14. Kevin Mathers


    I know they said no PPV, but with the international scope the tournament has had in recent years, they should do something for those outside the US who’re interested. Like I said in the previous post, are those viewers going to be delayed even further than usual (I know plenty of people on 2+2 outside the US would ask when the broadcasts will air in their part of the world (I’m sure Oliver can fire those international partners out much better than I could)? My post also mentioned that anyone with WSOP credentials would be able to attend and provide updates.

  15. California Jen

    The credentials part is limited… PokerNews and Bluff are the only ones who can do hand-for-hand coverage, but the rest of us can do updates. No different than the rest of the WSOP, though. I’m just glad we won’t be shut out!

    Where is Oliver when we need him?

    I’ll see if I can find out anything about the international viewers.

  16. Ed

    Nothing from Doyle in his blog. Daniel on the other hand is praising it at his blog.

    The one thing I don’t get are the folks mentioning how people bitched when the hole cards came along. That is like comparing apples to oranges. The hole cam is not changing how the tournament works. Pausing the final table for 3 months can change the entire outcome of the tournament. Have I mentioned yet how retarded this change is?

  17. BJ Nemeth

    The hole card cam was *HUGE* in how it changed high-stakes tournaments for the pros. The right of a player to conceal their hole cards was a key part of the game. (“Was I bluffing?” You’ll never know …”) Nowadays, even average joes have a decent read on the top pros. Before holecams — no idea.

    During the conference call, Jeffrey Pollack admitted that he didn’t know what ESPN International had planned, but they’ll certainly have something planned. I don’t know about a live pay-per-view feed though; I’d expect them to do something similar to what they are broadcasting in the U.S.

    And Marvin, I respect the hell out of Doyle Brunson, but his quote in USA Today sounds like he hasn’t listened to the entire pitch yet. Is he on the Players’ Advisory Board? If he’s not, I’m guessing that he was just called out of the blue and asked to comment on the situation. Regardless, his is a very non-committal quote with no details. (As opposed to Daniel’s blog, for instance.) If you’re going to blindly follow someone else’s opinion, you might want to carefully consider how they formed theirs.

  18. BJ Nemeth

    Wow … rereading my last comment, I come across like a bit of an asshole. I apologize, Martin, because I didn’t mean to come off like that.

    If I could edit it, I’d delete the last line entirely.

    It just strikes me that Doyle’s opinion is based on first hearing “final table delayed 16 weeks” rather than carefully considering the full list of pros and cons. He doesn’t cite any specific reason he thinks it’s a bad idea, other than “it seems a little overkill or something to me.”

  19. California Jen

    BJ, you couldn’t be further from seeming like an asshole.

    I have to go with Marvin on this one, though, because I’m sure Doyle has been hearing all about it at the Big Game and other outlets, since the topic has been discussed for months now. He’s one of the old-schoolers, hesitant to accept change, and wanting to keep as much tradition in the game as possible.

    I’ve always liked Doyle… 😉

  20. Marvin C

    I don’t disagree with B J. However, I do think Doyle had heard about it. Remember us old timers don’t like change. We don’t trust the Internet, with good reason. I know of collussion, but that’s another story.

    Since the vast majority of those watching poker on TV are poker players, I don’t see any gain in delaying the final table. I see more downside than up. There have always been deals, but 117 days allows a lot of time to make deals. However, we will see. I have been wrong before.

    The biggest benefit to the hole card cam is slowing collussion and dumping which was rampant. In local games, having to show cards in “All In” situations also slows collussion and dumping.

    What I do want to see is anything that will increase the chances of getting poker legal in Texas. I came from St. Louis and we had poker. It was safe, you knew there was a game, and there was less cheating.

  21. California Jen

    St. Louis, Marvin? I was born and raised in STL. Go Cards! 🙂

  22. BJ Nemeth

    I still question how much Doyle has considered this; hearing rumors is not the same as listening to them, and there is still a *lot* of misinformation out there about this. Until this became fact, I doubt Doyle wasted his time thinking about this rumor or listening to Daniel Negreanu discuss the finer points of the plan. (From what I’ve read, Doyle Brunson is *not* on the Players’ Advisory Board.)

    There are dozens of legitimate reasons to dislike this plan, and Doyle’s argument against it is that it seems like a “little overkill.” What does that even mean? A 2 week-delay would be okay, but not 16 weeks? Delaying the final two players would be okay, but not the final nine?

    You can disagree with Daniel Negreanu’s opinion/blog about this, but you can’t deny that he understands the plan and has spent a lot of time thinking about it. Right now, I can’t say the same for Doyle Brunson.

  23. olivert

    Don’t forget that one of my active player clients, Gabriela Hill Torneo, has been calling the WSOP in Spanish for ESPN Latin America since 2004 (she has called more WSOP Main Event final tables than Norman Chad, believe it or not, as she voiced over the 2002 WSOP Main Event Final Table as well.)

    Even Gabriela can’t get a straight answer from the higher ups at ESPN International in Bristol CT, New York, or London right now in regards to international broadcasts of the WSOP.

    As for ESPN’s International networks and partners region by region:

    Canada – TSN (English), RDS (Spanish)

    Caribbean (English) – ESPN Caribbean, ESPN2 Caribbean

    Latin America North (Spanish) – ESPN Latin America-North, ESPN DOS

    Latin America South (Spanish) – ESPN Latin America-South, ESPN Mas

    Brazil (Portuguese) – ESPN Latin America-Brazil, ESPN Brasil

    Western and Central Europe – North American Sports Network (NASN), ESPN Classic Europe

    Middle East and Northern Africa – ESPN Middle East

    Israel – ESPN Israel

    Sub-Sarahan Africa – ESPN Africa

    Australia – ESPN Australia

    New Zealand – ESPN New Zealand

    Islands of the South Pacific – ESPN Pacific Rim

    Note that the WSOP does NOT air in Asia (with the exception of the Philippines via syndication) due to legal licensing issues with the local government-owned and/or government-licensed gambling monopolies in each country and territory. In Asia, the WSOP can air on local TV only if Caesars pays the gambling monopoly in each country a partnership and/or licensing fee.

    Also note that ESPN, Inc. does NOT have management control of any ESPN-branded network in Asia.

    In Japan, Sumitomo is the managing partner of J Sports, which has 4 channels including J Sports ESPN. The WSOP has never aired on that channel because Caesars has never been able to negotiate a satisfactory licensing fee with the Japan Ministry of Finance.

    In 25 countries and territories in Asia between Pakistan and South Korea, ESPN STAR Sports Limited (ESS), which is managed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation via NewsCorp’s control of STAR TV, controls all ESPN-branded channels out of a facility in Singapore. None of the Singapore-based ESPN-branded channels (including ESPN China, which is now bigger than ESPN U.S.) has ever aired the WSOP.

  24. olivert

    Oops, RDS in Canada broadcasts in French, not Spanish.

  25. Dan M

    ***If I could edit it, I’d delete the last line entirely.***

    BJ, the same thing that woulda given you an earlier invite to the conference call can give you comment-editing abilities. But do know, we have strict comment editing policies here at Pokerati. I generally adhere to them.

  26. zach

    What about the dealers toke from the final table tip-outs? oh yeah.. I forgot the winner usually stiffs anyways.

  27. Poker Shrink

    Plain and Simple. I am for it. I think it is a great idea and should be given a chance. Unlike the Sequestrium last summer that was a bad idea and failed miserably.