We have a history with this competition and with this tournament, and we’re excited to rekindle it.A new multi-year deal between the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and CBS Sports will see coverage of the most recognized tournament series in poker move to a new television home.
Starting this year, the Main Event, as well as multiple other gold bracelet events, can be found on CBS Sports Network.
After a brief hiatus from live poker last year because of the pandemic, the live WSOP is set to return this year with 10 weeks of live poker action to end the year. Armchair fans who watch from home instead of getting into the action themselves will have a new place to watch with the new deal.
CBS Sports plans to have extensive coverage of the Main Event, with 15 hours planned for the Big Show alone. In addition, 18 other gold bracelet events will get 36 total hours of coverage.
In fact, the new deal with CBS Sports Network marks something of a return to roots for the WSOP. When the venerable tournament was still in it’s infancy in the 1970’s, CBS Sports Spectacular was pioneering poker on television with coverage of the Main Event.
“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”
In an interview with CBS in New York, Dain Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming for CBS Sports added some context.
“We have a history with this competition and with this tournament, and we’re excited to rekindle it,” he said. “The deal makes a lot of sense for us, because at CBS Sports we really target best-in-class brands for all our partnerships with properties. This checks that box.”
“It’s a brand that has a lot of prestige and recognition across the country,” he went on to say, “both for hardcore poker players and just casual sports fans, because it’s been an institution for so long. It brings the best players in the world, the best play in the world. So there’s an excitement level and the drama associated with it.”
It has been a bleak year on the live poker scene, but WSOP injected some hope earlier this month when they announced the return of their trademark live series.
Starting September 30, the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino will once again play host to the biggest poker festival in the world.
There is action scheduled at the Rio through November 23, by which time things will already have kicked off in Europe.
In addition to the Vegas series, WSOPE is slated to run at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic from November 19 through December 8, with 15 bracelet events including a WSOPE Main Event.
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After the success of last year’s WSOP Online, they are again adding an online component to this year’s schedule.
The domestic schedule is already set with 33 bracelet events starting on July 1 and running through August 1.
The domestic series will be available to players in New Jersey and Nevada on WSOP.com, and will feature a $1 million guaranteed Grand Finale.
No details have yet been announced for the international schedule, but all signs point to a return to GGPoker and huge guarantees.
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Return to the Past
Modern fans of the WSOP on television might be more familiar with the ESPN era, which began in 2002 and featured the Moneymaker boom.
Since 2002, ESPN chronicled a huge growth in the series on the back of the Cinderella story of Chris Moneymaker’s Main Event win in 2003. For many modern poker fans, WSOP coverage has been synonymous with ESPN.
It was not always that way, however. In the 1970s, it was CBS Sports that pioneered poker broadcasting in the US. Starting in the late 1970s and running into the 1980s, CBS Sports Spectacular ran specials on the WSOP Main Event marking the first national broadcasts of live poker.
The latest foray into poker TV by CBS Sports will undoubtedly be a more modern affair. When CBS pioneered poker broadcasting, it was a very different world. There were no hole card cameras and no RFID.
Some players smoked at the tables, and the characters of the game were very different, including some legends of the game like Puggy Pearson, Bobby Baldwin, Amarillo Slim, and Doyle Brunson. It was a very different poker world, but CBS Sports was there to chronicle its beginnings.
That history will serve CBS Sports and the WSOP well going forward. There is no doubt the latest version of poker on CBS will be radically different from the original, but the modern show has a solid historical foundation to build on.