When Poker Central came on the poker scene nearly one year ago, the network had big names on board. The company was launched by executives from Discovery and Turner television networks, and three of the most popular players in poker were announced as the faces of the project: Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Hellmuth.
Not even one full year after its launch, Poker Central has become quite popular with the poker community and announced a second season of its flagship show Pokerography. The documentary-style interview series will feature poker players ranging from Chris Moorman and Jonathan Little to Johnny Chan and Jennifer Tilly in Season 2.
The network also added three new ambassadors: Maria Ho, Brian Rast, and Tom Marchese. This move left fans a little baffled, but it all makes sense in the grand scheme, which has yet to be revealed.
Me & you, & you & me. No matter how they toss the dice it had to be. The only 1 for me is you & you for me. So happy together! @PokerCentral— Brian Rast (@tsarrast) August 11, 2016
Offerings in Year One
The first year of Poker Central’s introduction to the poker world started with a base of poker shows in its archives. From the World Poker Tour to Heartland Poker Tour episodes, players soaked up their favorite episodes and could even access some shows no longer on the air, such as Poker After Dark and High Stakes Poker.
The new offerings from the fledgling network started with the airing of the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout, which was filmed at ARIA in Las Vegas and then broadcast on NBC Sports Network. There was the aforementioned Pokerography and another signature show called Inside Poker. And over the course of many months, the network began producing the weekly Primetime Poker Report, airing live cash games from the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, and simulcasting the Global Poker League livestreams.
In addition, the network has run several participant-driven contests, opened an online store with a few items for sale, and expanded its website to include more about the shows and many of the poker players who appear on them.
Poker Central is no doubt looking to continue its growth. While there is talk of several initiatives and more unique shows, the latest news was about the network’s three newest ambassadors.
It should be noted that there are likely partnerships in the works that have yet to be announced. One hint about that surfaced when Global Poker League founder Alex Dreyfus tweeted about the three new ambassadors being prominent players on the GPL, “another step to deeper collaboration.” Maria Ho is the team manager of the LA Sunset, while Brian Rast and Tom Marchese are players on the Berlin Bears and New York Rounders, respectively.
As more content is developed for Poker Central, the ambassadors are also going to be contributing editorial content, per the press release. Ho, Rast, and Marchese are also supposed to help create new tournaments and promotional events.
This is a network that is thinking big and trying to offer something long-lasting and creative for the poker community. With experienced TV executives and seasoned poker pros in development meetings, these are the kinds of people who know what works, what the poker world has liked or rejected, and what is necessary to grow its audience. Keep in mind that the recent airing of the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout online and on NBC Sports Network boasted of sponsors new to the poker world, such as Amazon App Store and Dollar Shave Club. Those collaborations required out-of-the-box thinking.
As Poker Central eventually begins to reveal longer-term plans and new initiatives, the addition of Ho, Rast, and Marchese will likely make more sense. It is clear that the ambassadors are excited about the prospects, and none of them would likely attach their names to something in which they weren’t very confident and comfortable.
In the meantime, Poker Central is available on more providers and devices than ever, all of which are listed on the website. With such a diverse range of programming, there is something for every type of poker player and fan.