The “poker is dying” comment made by 2005 WSOP Main Event champ Joe Hachem last week continues to stir debate on the current state of the game and has resulted in many players expressing their sentiments regarding the best approach to take in order to shine a spotlight on poker and make it more attractive to potential players.
Six-time WSOP gold bracelet champ Daniel Negreanu, who is never one to hold back when voicing his opinion, recently tweeted a few nuggets of wisdom with regard to the issue. KidPoker points to the Winter Olympics and the way in which the broadcasts delve into the background of the athletes as an example of how poker should focus on the characters of the game as opposed to the game itself.
“Public doesn’t know the people or the sports but with great story telling fans & stars are created,” Negreanu tweeted. “Out with the high end analysis during broadcasts and in with the back stories, character development, and connection to fans.”
While poker strategy is exciting to some, the life of professional players and how they got to where they are is likely much more appealing to casual players. That appeal is even more compelling when learning that a number of players started out at small stakes online and moved up the ranks to attain pro status. That is an accomplishment that low budget players can relate to and even strive to achieve themselves.
“There is something interesting about EVERYONE!” Negreanu added. “It’s up to the production team to find out what that is, then sell it to the public. We waste time appeasing the wrong demo[graphic].”
KidPoker gives credit of the poker boom of years gone by to ESPN, “who spent time developing stars of poker.” Negreanu further stated that poker broadcasts of late “have gotten away from” the approach of creating big-name stars when airing poker on TV.
The type of broadcasts Negreanu is calling for that highlight the players themselves may soon be making a comeback. Poker Night in America has announced that their first television broadcast will air around April 1, 2014. Before kicking off their first tour stop at the Empire State Poker Classic at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York last August, PNA representatives made some exciting promises regarding what’s in store for fans watching at home.
“We’re going to bring a fresh approach to how poker is shown on TV, making the show relevant to the average viewer,” said PNA tour co-founder and president Todd Anderson. “We think the world is ready to watch poker in a whole new way.”
With an emphasis on variety that includes story telling and engaging viewers at home by awarding prizes and possible appearances on TV for contest winners, PNA aims to revolutionize poker broadcasting.
“One week you might see a celebrity-filled poker game from a Hollywood mansion and the next week could feature a high stakes cash game between poker heavyweights like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu,” Anderson said. “What you’ll always be able to count on is interesting story lines and variety. We’ll only be limited by our imagination.”
Sounds a bit like the kind of programming that KidPoker is clamoring for. We’ll have to find out when the first telecast makes it to living rooms throughout the country in April. In the meantime, Negreanu has promised to further expound on his ideas on ways to make poker more attractive to the masses in a blog to be released shortly.