Just a year ago you had to work very hard to find any kind of poker programming on national television. Fans were stuck with little more than Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker, and the World Poker Tour. While these are all excellent shows, they catered to only one niche of the poker community and did very little to bring the game to a wider audience. Twelve months later, there is a raft of different shows on the horizon, with a new production being announced almost every month.
Poker’s assault on the airwaves has also been taking place on another front, thanks to World Champion Joe Cada. The WSOP victor has not shied away from his position as a poker ambassador, appearing on the likes of Letterman and Bloomberg. Meanwhile, over on FSN, a new show called Poker2Night brings PokerRoad radio regulars Scott Huff and Joe Sebok in front of the camera, in a sports-desk style glance at the world of poker. If that wasn’t already enough, it has recently be announced that the final touches are being put to a new poker game-show, presented by none other than Mike Sexton.
Cada’s appearances on talk shows and radio broadcasts are perhaps the best way for poker to connect with the mainstream audience. The young pro always comes off as amiable and upbeat, if a little shy at times. Letterman in particular, will have brought poker to the attention of people who have never even considered the WSOP before. He responded well to the veteran talk show host, having to field some predictable questions, such as, “How much have you lost?” and “Will you be able to repeat your victory?” He also recently appeared on business channel Bloomberg, where he revealed a childhood love for the stock market. He talked openly about the strategy and technique of poker, making it clear he considers it a game of skill. He also revealed that he plans to parlay some of his Main Event money into a new investing career.
Poker2Night brings to the screen two of poker broadcast media’s leading lights. Radio host Scott Huff has been working in poker for a number of years, coming to prominence as the host of CardPlayer’s now defunct podcast The Circuit. It was here that poker pro Joe Sebok, son of Barry Greenstein, also came to prominence. He has since gone on to found PokerRoad.com, bringing with him a team of edgy presenters and experts to provide some of the most insightful and entertaining poker content available.
That expertise apparently caught the attention of the Fox Sports Network, who commissioned Scott to write and present a new show called Poker2Night, along with his good friend Joe Sebok. The first of the weekly broadcasts was a success, with the established rapport between the co-hosts helping to ease viewers into the show. The format was similar to ESPN’s internet-only Inside Deal, with a suited Scott and Joe discussing stories from the world of poker as well introducing segments and interviews. The abnormally attractive Lacey Jones was on hand to provide a quick interview with Joe Cada. She is expected to continue her roving interviews at live tournaments across the country. Dana Workman presented a tongue-in-cheek look at poker news in The Weekly Misdeal, and WSOP commentator Lon McEachern was the focus of a lighthearted in-studio interview.
If you’ve not yet had enough televised poker entertainment, then strap yourself in for a new Mike Sexton game-show. The latest Hall of Fame inductee will present Shuffle Up and Deal for MyNetworkTV, airing on an unannounced date in 2010. The format pits amateur poker players against each other as they pick cards from an electric board to create the best hand they possibly can. Although not all the details have been released, we do know that the winner of each show will play a bonus round where they take a shot at a $250,000 jackpot. Every time a payer fails to win, the total rises by $10,000 for the next show. Billed as, “TV’s First Family-Friendly Poker-Themed Game Show,” it hopes bring the game to a whole new audience. There will also be a live version touring casinos in America, hosted by Chad Brown.