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The Poker Channel, Europe’s largest poker television broadcasting network, have acquired the rights to air America’s newest poker tour, the Epic Poker League, as stated by EGR Magazine.

It’s a relief for Annie Duke, the founder of the EPL, and for the Epic Poker League after a very shaky start to the poker tour, for it to now have the opportunity to be broadcast to a worldwide audience and standing a better chance to establish itself as a recognised global championship, similar to the WSOP and WPT.

The Epic Poker League is a cross between the Professional Poker Tour, WPT’s spin-off championship, along with a criteria for the eligibility to play in the tournaments similar to that of the PGA Tour, and was Annie Duke’s idea of a elite tournament similar to that seen in professional golf.

A poker player can acquire a five-year, three-year, or two-year membership to the Epic Poker League, through three factors:

  • Five-Year Membership – $4 million lifetime earnings, a minimum of three major titles and nine major cashes.
  • Three-Year Membership – $2.5 million lifetime earnings, a minimum of one major title and nine major cashes
  • Two-Year Membership – Either $2 million lifetime earnings, one major title and six cashes or $1.25 million lifetime earnings, no major titles but nine major cashes

The only other method for those not eligible to play, is to reach the final nine finishers of the Pro-Am tournament scheduled before the EPL, at the poker tour’s home, the Palms Poker Room.

Annie Duke may have received some luck for the ongoing success of the Epic Poker League

However, it had its drawbacks at the beginning, Onlinepoker.net had shown Daniel Negreanu’s views on the tour, slating the Epic Poker League and further showing his personal view on the tour’s founder, Annie Duke. He questioned their business plan on whether the site can keep gathering enough revenue if what he thinks their main plan goes wrong (creating a popular poker brand to the public in the hopes an online poker site can be established when the U.S market is up for grabs.)

He also worries about the recent lack of interesting characters that have entered the live poker scene over the last few years:

“While the TwoPlusTwo crowd may love a featured table with online pros they adore, the mainstream public wants to see Sammy Farha bluff Phil Hellmuth and watch him go on a tirade!”

The EPL’s progress was further hindered by two offenses over their code of conduct. Chino Rheem, who won the first Main Event, had his membership immediately put on probation after a TwoPlusTwo thread on Chino Rheem’s failings to repay money owed to other players. It was then followed by Michael DiVita, who had finished 8th at an EPL Pro-Am event, being stripped of the seat and escorted away from the premises after it was found out by the EPL that he was a registered sex offender.

Despite the setbacks, the EPL has started to become a success and a partnership with The Poker Channel will help to build a fanbase from further afield. So why is this a poker tour that poker in general needs to see succeed?

Because it is catering to what the audience need, entertainment. With High Stakes Poker being axed from December after criticism from the fans over it’s new format and the firings of both Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza, along with WSOP’s struggle to come up with anything interesting to say about nine unknowns at the WSOP Main Event final table, the Epic Poker League could fix both problems on giving a show that will cater to the general audience.

Firstly, the likes of players such as Hellmuth, Farha and Matusow, in other words, those who provide entertaining moments on television have a better chance to showcase this across a smaller field, where amateurs who were looking to just get T.V time in whatever way they can, similar to what was seen on the WSOP, have been cut away. This will attract those who play for fun.

The tournament will also only allow those who have proven themselves to be regular winners on the tournament poker scene for a number of years now, not players with one-off victories. This should mean a higher-quality player pool, that can provide the audience with advanced plays and strategies, along with the “How did he make that call?” moments seen regularly on shows such as High Stakes Poker. This should prove popular to those who take the game a little more seriously.

Poker, for a variety of reasons, has been on life support and it needs fresh ideas to boost its popularity once again. The Epic Poker League could be one such method to getting poker back to its former glory.

 

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Perry Garland

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