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Televised Poker

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As with many of the younger players, I became a poker player by flipping through the channels on TV and seeing people playing cards at a table. At the time, I was totally unaware of what this was all about, but fortunately, there wasn't anything else on, so I started watching. The more and more I watched, the more I picked up on the game, it's strategies, depending on which game it was, and also heard about the wonder stories like Chris Moneymaker satellite his way to 2.5 million dollars with a WSOP main event title with a mere investment of 39$. Thus the craze.

The poker boom has taken leaps and bounds since then and televised poker has helped a great deal. I watch plenty of poker shows on TV and here's a description of what they are all about and what I think of them.

High Stakes Poker - This is a relatively new show compared to the rest, but it attracts a vast audience due to all the big name players sitting at the tables and jawing with each other, betting large sums of money into certain pots. The unique thing about High Stakes Poker is that it is a cash game, rather than most other televised poker programs which are tournaments. Therefore, the viewers at home get to see huge stacks of hundred dollar bills being thrown into the pot at any given moment. The commentary from Gabe Kaplan is often criticized, but I don't mind it much whatsoever. The camerawork is fairly good as they generally pan around the room to see the other players waiting to join the table. Also, for the young guys out there, the cameras often catch a glimpse of a pretty waitress delivering food and drinks to the players, so that just adds to the dream of not only being able to play high stakes with the pros someday, but also to have attractive young ladies tend to your every need while playing cards. The commercial time is about even with the poker time shown, so it's all fair to the advertisers, as well as the viewers.

Poker After Dark - Another newer show, but this one is a winner-take-all tournament with episodes that run throughout the week covering most of the more important action from start to finish. A new tournament is started every week, so the viewers never see the exact same players at the table each week. The same big names can be found here and the same jawing is present at the table. There's also the fair share of pretty lady scenes thanks to the impromptu interviews that everyone's favorite poker hostess, Shana Hyatt, conducts. The commercial breaks are short, and the action is fast, thus leading to an enjoyable show to sit down and watch.

World Poker Tour - A show that includes some very entertaining commentary as the hosts, Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, and hostess, whichever one they are employing at the time, make some "interesting" comments throughout the program. There are still many top name players here, but also many names that are unfamiliar to the less than avid poker viewer. Many people complain about the blind structure in the WPT events, but it's all about the action with this show. There's a vast amount of all-in bets due to this structure and seeing mounds of chips being shoved into the pot is what the producers know the viewers want to see. They've always used female interviewers as well, and again, pretty ones at that, in order to attract more attention from the viewers in anyway possible resulting in higher ratings. That's exactly what they're looking for. Unfortunately, the commercial breaks are extremely lengthy and the show will stop for a commercial break right in the middle of a hand sometimes. Yes, this gets the viewers to stay with the channel, but it becomes very annoying after it's experienced a few times. All in all, it's not a bad show, but it has a bit of work to do to become my favorite.

World Series Of Poker Events - This poker show is my personal favorite. I highly enjoy the commentary by Norman Chad and Lon McEachern, two others that are sometime criticized for their quirky remarks. The show offers short personal clips about some of the participating players and has many other entertaining add-ons including "The Flushy Awards" where the viewers get to see the worst reactions by players in numerous, certain situations. The commercial breaks are short and the poker coverage is thorough. They also don't limit the program to just no-limit holdem, but include Omaha, Stud and HORSE events. Disregarding the very old clips of poker tournaments on ESPN Classic, I think it's safe to say that this show was the start of all the televised poker popularity; the very best poker program out there.

There are many other programs that are less well known that I have watched before and also additional competitive gaming tournaments that I have seen televised, but I basically feel that these shows are merely trying to mimic what television can do to the popularity of the game that is poker. Poker is a game in itself and will never be duplicated. Take the time to watch some of these programs and I'm sure you'll agree.

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