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Poker Programs on TV: Here’s the Big Picture

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Apr/26/2011
Poker TV Programs

The busts of three online poker rooms (Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker) by the Feds earlier this month isn't just affecting those in the U.S. who like to play poker online.

It's also affecting those who in the U.S. who like to watch poker on TV.

Numerous television networks in the U.S. were televising poker in some form or another--either actual tournaments such as the World Series of Poker or made-for-TV tourneys such as the National Heads-Up Poker Championship.

But in recent days many of these shows have been axed as the networks try to distance themselves from programming sponsored by the busted rooms.

The verdict?

Some shows have been dropped, some are maintaining the status quo and some are remaining on air but only with a change of sponsor.

It's all very confusing, but based on statements (or lack of same) from the TV networks involved, Gambling911.com sorts it all out for your viewing pleasure:

ESPN--A show sponsored by Poker Stars that featured coverage of the North American Poker Tour has been cancelled. Coverage of the WSOP this summer will go on as scheduled, but no more reruns of past WSOP matches will be shown because logos for the busted online rooms appear on the poker tables and on patches on the players' clothing. No decision has been made about the show "Aussie Millions."

FOX--Poker programming appears on Fox broadcast affiliates and on Fox's cable arm, Fox Sports Net. Most of that programming has been axed, at least in the U.S. Cancelled were "The Big Game" and "Million-Dollar Challenge," both of which were sponsored by Poker Stars. A show that features coverage of the World Poker Tour will continue but it has dropped Poker Stars as sponsor. "The Big Game" will continue to air in countries other than the U.S.

GAME SHOW NETWORK (GSN)--"High-Stakes Poker" will continue to air but it has dropped Poker Stars as a sponsor and replaced it with Gold Strike Poker, a membership-based, legal online poker room that operates from the U.S. "Doubles Poker Championship" will also continue but it has dropped Full Tilt Poker as a sponsor and replaced it with Gold Strike Poker.

NBC--No announcement has been made yet about "Poker After Dark" or the "National Heads-Up Poker Championship."

But since "Poker After Dark" is sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, expect the show to drop the sponsor and maybe the network will drop the show altogether. The delay in any announcement may be NBC trying to line up a new sponsor for the popular late-night show that has aired for several years. The "National Heads-Up Poker Championship" is probably safe because it doesn't have any online poker rooms as sponsors.

CBS--Earlier this year, it was announced that CBS would televise matches of the inaugural season of Federated Sports and Gaming, a new professional poker league co-founded by poker pro Annie Duke and ex-WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and which Duke is commissioner of. CBS was even planning to run FS&G matches in lieu of NFL games should the NFL season be cancelled. CBS' coming on board the poker train made ABC the only major American broadcast network not to have a poker show. Now the CBS coverage looks shaky. If CBS were planning on online poker rooms as sponsors, that plan has to be scrapped. And even if it weren't, poker in general has suffered such a black eye by the whole scandal that any thoughts about new poker programming may seem illogical now to the network.

By Tom Somach

Gambling911.com Staff Writer

tomsomach@yahoo.com

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