With all the glitz and glamour which accompanies the game of poker these days, it is hard to imagine that this was not too long ago a game with a seedy image, which was played by unscrupulous characters, in a less than salubrious environment. Thankfully that era has passed and with the aid of TV and the live format, the game now commands a huge audience.
Cameras surround the tables and it has to be said that the players do well to retain the concentration levels required; as their every move – literally, is scrutinised by the commentators and watching public. The huge advancements in technology have assisted greatly, with no such thing as face down cards to the viewers, as special cameras afford the viewing audience a peek at those hidden from opponents.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the grand daddy of them all and has a massive fan base of its live transmissions, with cult followings for players and commentators alike. Similarly the World Poker Tour (WPT) commands vast numbers of fans and the TV companies have developed their product for maximum exposure benefits.
Other live tours which are heavily supported are the World Series of Poker Circuit (WSOPC) and the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE); plus the European Poker Tour (EPT) which travels around some of the top cities of Europe, which adds to the appeal of the live broadcasts. All the tension, skills, cool heads, bravery, stupidity, mind games, nerves and occasional humour are all captured – up close and personal!
Many of the stand alone poker tournaments also enjoy significant exposure; the live games being a major pull for vast audiences across the globe. Amongst these ‘specials’ is the hugely popular Aussie Millions covered by Fox Sports Net (FSN), which is a magnet for competitors from all over the planet, including near neighbours New Zealand, plus the UK and Ireland, all the Scandinavian countries, US and Canada, much of mainland Europe in particular The Netherlands and Italy, as well as some odd additions such as Lebanon. Since its launch in 1998 the competition has continued to grow and now, much to the delight of the Australians; the live feed of Aussie Millions is recognised and enjoyed by an ever appreciative American audience.
Another massively popular live tournament is the Irish Poker Open, which is the 2nd longest running of all the tournaments, behind only the World Series of Poker in Las Vagas. Although the financial rewards are dwarfed by their American counterparts; typical of anything Irish, the atmosphere is totally unique and is eagerly anticipated by players and viewers alike. Similarly to all the tournaments, there is a main event, but this is more of a poker festival, captured live. The big names are all drawn across the pond to the Burlington Hotel in Dublin for the special Irish brand, which has moved up to a higher level since securing the support of paddypower.com, which has proved an ideal partner.