He knows what it takes to make and sustain a successful television program. The Montel Williams Show was broadcasting new episodes from its debut in 1991 until its eventual end in 2008, and an 18-year run in television is something not many have done. Now, Williams has decided to merge his love of TV with his passion for poker in a new show said to be broadcast in the late months of 2009.
International Team Poker League (ITPL) is the given name of the show, and it promises to bring an entirely new format to poker programming. Williams is behind the idea, serving as Commissioner and CEO of the ITPL, and intends for the one-hour shows to air for an entire season. Currently, he is discussing sponsorship partnerships with affiliates and companies that will make the concept profitable for all involved.
The concept involves starting to run satellite NLHE tournaments online, with a yet-to-be-named partnering online poker site, in March. There will also be satellite opportunities through land-based casinos, and winners from all satellites will be invited to play in a three-day Draft Pool Seeding Tournament at a Las Vegas casino. That will result in the best players in the tournament being selected for six respective teams, which will then be condensed, through more tournament play, to six winners who will become the ITPL team for the season.
In addition to the poker aspect of the show, Williams intends to treat it as somewhat of a reality show, something with which he is quite familiar. The players on the ITPL team will be filmed as they play tournaments and live the lifestyles of poker pros.
Williams commented on the project: “I love poker - it’s a game that has everything, played by kings and leaders and regular Joes alike. It crosses boundaries and borders, now, and thanks to technology and the internet, a global phenomenon that brings people of different ethnicities and origin[s] together around the world. It is truly international, and the time is right for the International Team Poker League to take poker to a new level and a wider audience.”
To date, little is known about television network or brand partnerships, but Williams is likely hoping to garner excitement for the concept through the discussion of the idea. Williams clearly has connections in the television industry, so there might be more in the works than is being acknowledged. For now, suffice it to say that Montel Williams is serious about his poker and bringing that enjoyment of the game to the masses.