The poker community waited many years for the November Nine to end. And it finally happened in 2017, after nine years of a World Series of Poker Main Event delayed final table. Across social media, most poker players and fans rejoiced.
Poker Central announced that it acquired the global television and digital media rights to the WSOP, a deal that included expanded programming and a new agreement with ESPN. With that, the WSOP Main Event will be broadcast live on ESPN from the starting days through the final table, all consecutive action without a four-month delay for the final table. The action will begin on July 8 and play through July 17 to set the final table. Those players will then break for two days and return to play down to a winner from July 20-22.
In addition, there will be several other WSOP events available on a livestream, courtesy of Poker Central and the WSOP. Details have yet to emerge, but many fans have been requesting livestreamed coverage of some of the popular final tables at the summer World Series. Their wishes will be granted.
The Long November Nine Experiment
When the November Nine began, the WSOP believed it to be a way to capitalize on the personalities at the Main Event final table and build a bigger viewing audience for the grand finale. Shows highlighting the earlier days in the Main Event aired on ESPN weekly and led up to the November Nine, which was broadcast semi-live on ESPN over the course of three days in November. The nine players who made the final table in July had to return home with ninth place payouts and return several months later to complete the tournament.
The goal of the delay was to build excitement and give the players a chance to get publicity and sponsorships during the break. Originally, the idea was that the players would get agents, book appearances on talk shows, and garner general media buzz that would lead to massive crowds at the Rio and watching the TV broadcasts in November. None of that happened, however, as the poker boom began to fizzle just after the decision to implement the delay, and most players had no desire to do the kind of work involved in doing publicity rounds.
What did happen, though, was that some players obtained coaching during the four-month break. They hired professional poker players to help hone their games and prepare them for play on the big stage. In some cases, players benefited from that practice. Other players felt that they lost the momentum they had going to the final table. Many fans lost their momentum and excitement for the action as well. There was a significant increase in viewership in 2008, as the concept was new, but fans tired of the delay in subsequent years.
The 2017 deal was celebrated by players and fans alike. Poker Central is popular with many in the poker community already, and the idea that all of the WSOP excitement would play out in the summer months boosted enthusiasm for the summer games.
Something for Every Fan
There are poker fans who enjoyed the weekly ESPN broadcasts of the WSOP, as most game enthusiasts are not able to stay up late, watch hours of livestreams, and ignore life’s responsibilities to watch weeks of live poker. For those fans, they will continue to find weekly content on ESPN. The WSOP will work to produce 16 edited shows, which will be condensed versions of the livestreams and broadcast throughout the fall months as usual. The difference will be that they will see the final table action edited as well instead of a three-day November Nine marathon. Those episodes will then be repeated throughout the year on ESPN and ESPN2.
For those asking, there will be one-hour edited episodes of the WSOP airing on ESPN in the fall through 2020— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) May 15, 2017
Those able to travel to Las Vegas to see the action in person will be able to watch from the sidelines and bleachers. They can take photos and feel the atmosphere in the Rio ballroom when players cash out for six-figure and seven-figure sums of prize money.
Finally, with PokerNews back in charge of the live updates from the WSOP throughout the entirety of June and most of July, live updates and daily recaps will be available for players to refresh or read through at the end of each day. Fans can also find video content, interviews, and many of the features they grew to love in years past.
The WSOP will have a new feel to it in 2017. New events are on the schedule, PokerNews will be back, Poker Central will be in the building, and there will be a WSOP Main Event champion crowned before the end of July. Get ready for a summer filled with poker excitement, live from Las Vegas!