Major WSOP Changes Include Same-Day ESPN Main Event Coverage

Posted on May 17, 2017

[toc]The 2017 World Series of Poker is just two weeks away. As such, it is time for WSOP owner Caesars Entertainment to unveil the big changes and new features for the world’s biggest annual poker event.

The change drawing national headlines is the elimination of the November Nine. Instead, ESPN is partnering with poker content company Poker Central. The two groups will work together to provide same-day coverage of the entire $10,000 buy-in Main Event.

That change is big news. However, it is just one of several upgrades and alterations to expect at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino this summer:

ESPN and Poker Central offering same-day Main Event broadcast

The WSOP first announced the idea for the November Nine at the 2008 series. In previous years, the Main Event played out normally, then ESPN aired edited footage of the entire event, including the final table. Poker fans knew in advance who won, so the only interest in tuning in would be to see how the person did it.

The November Nine aimed to make the final table a live television event. Now though, with the advances in live streaming, it is starting to feel a little outdated.

Thanks to a new partnership with Poker Central, ESPN will be airing same-day coverage of the Main Event from Day 1A down to a champion. The coverage will air on ESPN, with Poker Central distributing any additional or unaired footage.

Hopefully, recent changes to the rules about calling the clock will help ensure the live coverage is fun and entertaining, rather than full of tanking.

The final table players will get a tiny bit of downtime. There will be a two-day break before the final table plays out live over July 20-22.

WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart spoke about the big broadcasting change:

“ESPN has been our home since 2002, and we’re delighted to extend the relationship into the next decade. Having every-day live coverage of the WSOP Main Event is truly a huge commitment on behalf of ESPN and Poker Central, and we look forward to delivering to our faithful audience wall-to-wall action from the outset for the very first time.”

Poker Central will run live streaming

After five years of running the live streaming with commentary in-house, WSOP is turning over the reigns to Poker Central.

There are not many details available beyond that announcement. There is no schedule for streaming as of yet. Fans should expect a change in platform from the WSOP website to a Poker Central-branded channel.

It is certainly possible with an outside sponsor handling streams that other changes could take place, such as monetizing the stream via subscription fees or additional ads incorporated into the broadcast.

The WSOP’s resident commentator David Tuchman Tweeted the press release, observing it was exciting news. However, the host failed to answer any questions about whether or not he would be back in the booth calling the action come May 31.

ESPN stage moving, Poker Kitchen downsizing

The other news for ESPN is a new home within the WSOP footprint. For years, the Main Stage lived in the Amazon Room. This year, ESPN moves to the Brasilia Room.

The benefit for final table players is all the Day 3 restarts will be in this room, but rarely anything else. With limited distractions from opening-day events, the players can focus on the ultimate goal, a WSOP bracelet. The lone exception to Brasilia events being home of the final table will be the three online poker bracelet events on WSOP.com.

The rearrangement affects a couple other areas of the WSOP’s Rio presence. The Poker Kitchen, previously housed in the Miranda Room, is no more. Instead, there will be grab and go dining at assorted Poker Kitchenettes throughout the convention space. Those looking for a place to sit and eat can do so on the Pavilion Room stage.

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Private high stakes cash game area

The Pavilion Room is the place to be for all the cash game action, but rail birds are going to be disappointed this year. Unlike past years, where stanchions were all that separated fans from the highest stakes action, this year the high stakes section will be its own room within the Pavilion Room.

King’s Casino Rozvadov is sponsoring a private 15-table high stakes area this summer. The Czech casino is also host of this year’s WSOP Europe (WSOPE) event. The room will hopefully allow Kings Casino staff to get a head start on recruiting for WSOPE, which runs in October.

Player of the Year no longer powered by GPI

After running the Player of the Year race for two years, the Global Poker Index (GPI) is out in 2017. Taking over the title sponsorship is King’s Casino. Since GPI owns its formula for the contest, this year there will be a new system for calculating points in place.

Last year, Jason Mercier steamrolled through the contest after an impressive summer with two bracelets and a second-place showing.

Photo courtesy of WSOP

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Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. A graduate of the University of Southern California and Indiana University, Welman is not only a writer but also a producer. She has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.

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