Televised poker isn’t anything new to somebody who is just getting into the poker game. With the rampant online poker playing of a young demographic, watching poker on TV to see the big names isn’t anything new or special. It might look as though watching poker on TV has been a commodity offered for years and it really has been televised for a long time, but what was offered before isn’t as nearly as exciting or broad as what we have today. Big names carry a lot of weight these days and anybody who knows anything about poker likely has a favorite player they like to watch or emulate. Televised poker gives us these opportunities we wouldn’t have otherwise and it’s become a huge part of many networks daily programming.
Poker has been on TV since the 70’s. The World Series of Poker’s main event aired once a year on TV and drew a minimal crowd. The main issue that blocked this program from being huge was the lack of an ability to see the player’s hole cards. As we know now this is no longer a problem with the invention of the pocket cam in the mid 90’s. Without being able to see what a player had there was little excitement in watching a big hand fold down. Questions of whether a player was bluffing, whether he had the nuts or wondering if the viewer at home read him the way he thought he did were left unanswered until the pocket cam. Once the viewer at home felt a part of every hand and once they felt the excitement and the tension build, that’s when televised poker started its success.
In the early years of our current decade poker started seeing much more air time. This was right before the poker boom we are all familiar with and showed a small glimpse of the televised poker craze that we see today. Initially the WSOP held a 1 hour slot on the Discovery Channel for the main event, but when ratings started to climb it was shown there was a much larger market for this then anticipated.
What came next pioneered the style of online poker shows we see currently. With a slight sportscaster feel to a given airing the World Poker Tour recorded their first episode. Like I said before, every viewer at home could feel like a part of every hand. The pocket cam was a huge success and ratings began to pile up.
ESPN took notice of the success of the WPT’s televised events and started broadcasting regular WSOP events on their own channel. They usually highlighted star players and took notice of unusual players doing exceptionally well (or poorly) at a given event. The buildup of these shows that lead to the final table down the road is executed very well and has created a good deal of excitement with regular viewers of the program.
Overall the history of televised poker has a long span of 30 or more years, but what we are familiar with today came to a head in a very short time span. The invention of the pocket cam was the biggest turning point for televised poker and with the interest in the WSOP ever increasing networks felt no reason not to run with it. Now there are a variety of televised poker events on any given day that leave the casual viewer with plenty of material to learn from. Remember to keep in mind patience is a key thing here. These events are edited down from many hours of slow playing and highlight the most exciting and notable hands. Poker is a lot of waiting for a small amount of action so get out there and learn from the pros!