Poker Gets Major from



We all know that poker is blowing up. One can flip through the programs of many cable networks and figure that out for themselves. However, many people are predicting that the craze will be over in a matter of a couple years, as networks slow down the airing of tournaments, and as they run out of ideas for new poker-based shows such as the Celebrity Poker series. One thing that those prophets had probably not counted on was NBC creating a major tournament to be aired exclusively on their major television network.


The 2005 National Heads-Up Championship will be the first poker tournament produced by and aired on a major television network. The tournament will have a $1.5 million prize pool, which should attract some big names, and in fact, the network has already invited many big names and colorful characters. Expect to see, of course, the two previous WSOP main event winners, Greg Raymer and Casino Extra Chris Moneymaker, as well as Doyle Brunson, Jonny Chan, and Howard Lederer. The tournament will air on consecutive Sundays beginning the 1st of May.


NBC’s brain-trust is planning to smartly capitalize on two things that have shown previous success on TV: Poker and the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. In the 2005 National Heads-Up Championship, 64 professional poker players will play each other, in NCAA Tournament-style, heads-up until there is one player left – the National Champion. Not only is this good for TV, but for the poker world, it will be very interesting as well. Heads-up play creates a stage for players, where acting and reading the other player become even more important than the cards, and surely table talk will abound.


Another plus for this tournament is that it is invitation only. I …