Will the Newly Minted Professional Poker Tour Meet the Needs of the Game?

by Lou on February 1, 2006

After five months of negotiations World Poker Tour Enterprises and the Travel Channel have an agreement in place to bring WPTE’s new show, the Professional Poker Tour, to the Travel Channel later on this year.

The top 200 poker players in the world will compete against each other week after week, and each player will have to qualify for a tour card in order to compete. Tour cards will be earned through success on the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker’s main event, or by achieving stature in the poker community through such things as membership in the Poker Hall of Fame.

The five tournaments that will make up season one of the PPT have already been filmed. The show is hosted by poker pro Mark Seif and actor-poker enthusiast Matt Corboy.

While this tour seems like a start in the right direction, I believe a better model would be predicated on tour stops that are sanctioned by a poker association, rather than television determining who is eligible to play on tour as well as deciding which events will be used to define the tour.

Workable models abound. The PGA, the Rodeo Cowboys Association, and professional tennis all offer fair and effective ways of putting a tour together.

If a professional poker association were to be formed, there’s no reason why its governing board couldn’t be made up of players, networks, programmers, and hotel properties. This broadly based grouping, though sometimes at odds with one another, ought to be able to come up with a tour of major events, as well as one or more satellite tours to serve as feeders for the main tour — in much the same way that golfers play on lesser tours in hopes of working their way up to the PGA.

This kind of structure puts poker right where it belongs, firmly in the hands of its stakeholders: players, TV programmers, networks, casinos, and anyone else with a vested interest in the game. Though not as convenient an arrangement as a tour that’s network controlled, or in thrall to a TV production group, I’m sure the right balance could be struck to allow everyone to share in the growth and interest that surrounds televised tournament poker.

After all, the competing and diverse interest that are golf, rodeo, and tennis have each made it work in their particular sports, so why not poker? And why not now?

What’s your take on this?

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