Cable station ESPN will broadcast three tournaments as part of its coverage of the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP), Poker News Daily has learned. The action gets underway on July 20th with a special recap of the 2009 WSOP.
The kickoff presentation will most likely air for an hour on Tuesday, July 20th on ESPN. One week following the preview show, the $50,000 Player’s Championship will hit television airwaves. The tournament features an Eight-Game format, with players competing in Limit Hold’em, Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud High-Low Split Eight or Better, No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. The final table will be entirely No Limit Hold’em.
On August 3rd, attention will turn to the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions, which will take on an all-star game format. Voting is open through mid-June on the official website of the WSOP. One week ago, Harrah’s officials announced the top 20 vote-getters for the Tournament of Champions. If voting had ended last Friday, the 20 players granted entry via the public vote would have been Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, T.J. Cloutier, Allen Cunningham, Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Farha, Chris Ferguson, Barry Greenstein, Joe Hachem, Jennifer Harman, Dan Harrington, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Greg Raymer, Huck Seed, and Erik Seidel.
Noticeably absent from the Tournament of Champions are any internet pros or European players, two of the fastest-growing segments of the market. Five players received automatic bids: Mike Sexton, Annie Duke, Mike Matusow, Joe Cada, and Barry Shulman. Two more spots in the 2010 WSOP Tournament of Champions will go to online qualifiers, although WSOP officials have not announced how those will be awarded. The event kicks off on June 27th at the Rio in Las Vegas and will play down to a final table, which will play out on Independence Day.
One week’s worth of coverage will be given to both the $50,000 Player’s Championship and Tournament of Champions. From August 10th to November 9th will be the prestigious Main Event, which will air over 14 weeks on the ESPN family of stations. This year marks the third installment of the November Nine format, with the final table appropriately airing on Tuesday, November 9th.
Last year’s WSOP on ESPN coverage featured the $40,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament commemorating the 40th running of the WSOP, the Champions Invitational, the Ante Up for Africa charity gala, and the Main Event. Notably, the network’s 2010 coverage features three tournaments instead of four, all of which are bracelet events. ESPN representative George McNeilly told Poker News Daily what the network’s focus was when crafting its 2010 coverage: “We wanted to focus on the bracelet events. We embrace all of the new concepts, but ultimately we’re looking to serve the widest segment of WSOP viewers. As events are established and grow in popularity, our programming team has been open to airing them.”
Last August, ESPN and Harrah’s officials inked a seven-year agreement to keep the annual tournament series on the sports station through April 2018. The WSOP attracts an annual audience of more than 80 million people. ESPN2 is in the midst of airing the PokerStars North American Poker Tour (NAPT) on Monday nights, with poker gurus Lon McEachern and Norman Chad providing the call.