Posts Tagged ‘Central’

Poker Central Renews Key Partnerships

 Poker Central Renews Key Partnerships

Poker Central has renewed partnerships with both 888Poker and the NBC Sports Group, announcing the deals in two separate press releases in the past week. Poker Central, having struggled to establish itself as a true 24/7 poker television network, has successfully revamped itself as an online digital video subscription service for poker. It surprised the poker world last year by cementing a deal with ESPN and the World Series of Poker to broadcast much of the WSOP via live streaming.

Last week, Poker Central announced the renewal of its deal with 888poker that has the online poker room remain the “exclusive in-show sponsor in the real money online poker category” for the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl. 888Poker will also be part of the broadcasts of the U.S. Poker Open, Poker Masters, Poker After Dark, and the ARIA High Roller Series.

On its end, 888Poker will run promos to give its players the chance to compete in Poker Central’s live events.

“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Poker Central and look forward to the fantastic initiatives we will pursue together. 888poker’s commitment to ‘taking back the game’ is further strengthened by this renewed partnership,” said Guy Cohen, SVP head of B2C, 888 Holdings in a press release. “This exciting collaboration will connect our players to global poker content of the highest calibre both as fans and participants.”

As for NBC, Poker Central has extended its contract with the NBC Sports Group through 2020, which includes expanded coverage of Poker Central’s events on the television network. The NBC Sports Network (not to be confused with NBC proper, by the way) will broadcast coverage of what Poker Central calls “three of poker’s majors”: the Super High Roller Bowl, Poker Masters, and U.S. Poker Open.

It does not seem, however, that the poker will actually be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network on cable television. Rather, the events will be streamed via and the NBC Sports app.

“After the success of last year’s Super High Roller Bowl, we are further broadening our poker content by adding more tournaments to our slate,” said Gary Quinn, vice president of programming for the NBC Sports Group. “Our viewers enjoy the extremely competitive nature of Poker Central’s tournaments, and we’re looking forward to delivering more high-stakes action in 2018.”

The U.S. Poker Open is a new tournament series this year, made up purely of high buy-in events. There will be two $ 10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em events, a $ 10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament, three (THREE!) $ 25,000 No-Limit Hold’em tournaments, a $ 25,000 Mixed Games Championship, and the Main Event, which will cost players $ 50,000 to enter. Yikes.

Then again, those tournaments pale in comparison to the Super High Roller Bowl, which has a $ 300,000 buy-in. Only the $ 1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop at the 2018 World Series of Poker will beat that.

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Poker Central Adding to PokerGO’s Programming with New Show “Major Wager”

 Poker Central Adding to PokerGO’s Programming with New Show “Major Wager”

Since Poker Central came back with the rebirth of their streaming outlet as a subscription service known as PokerGO, there has been a concerted effort to increasing the amount of original programming that the station provides. With their latest endeavor, Poker Central and PokerGO are dipping their toes into a genre that, at least in regular network and cable television, has become a bit overdone.

It was announced on Thursday that Poker Central and PokerGO will collaborate with Roundhead Creative for a five-episode reality series called Major Wager. The show, to be hosted by noted podcaster Joey Ingram, will take the viewers into world of proposition (or “prop”) betting. The show’s basic premise is that a group of contestants, with many coming from the poker world, will take part in performance-based prop bets. For the losers of those bets, majorly embarrassing punishments will be taped and aired as part of the program.

The poker aspect of the show comes in with the contestants that will be a part of the show. Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Brian Rast, Jeff Gross and Samantha Abernathy are but a few of the names that have been released as being a part of the competition. These players – and especially Esfandiari, as we’ll see in a bit – all have had their hands in some prop bets in the past, making them natural participants for a show like this.

“We wanted to explore what would happen if we combined the most competitive personalities in poker with prop betting in everyday scenarios – Las Vegas style,” said Joe Kakaty, the president of Poker Central. “Major Wager will be a hilarious addition to PokerGO’s already robust offering of original programming.” Phil Alcabes, the founder of Roundhead Creative, added “My producing partner Kevin Thomsen and I are thrilled to be a part of Poker Central’s vision for Major Wager and the commitment they have in bringing their audience innovative poker shows unlike anything currently on the market. We’re showcasing the lesser known skills, competitive spirit, and personalities of poker’s biggest stars that fans will have to see to believe.”

This isn’t Esfandiari’s first foray into televising his prop bets for the world to see. Along with his good friend, poker player Phil Laak, Esfandiari starred in two seasons of a television program called I Bet You that aired on the now-defunct MOJO cable channel. The premise of the show, which began in 2007, was that the two men would challenge each other with outlandish prop bets, often culminating in a big payoff when the loser of the bet was somehow humiliated (sounding very much like Major Wager). 24 episodes were taped across the States of America and the first season of the show (10 episodes) actually made it to DVD.

Instead of going the route with prop betting that they have, Poker Central and PokerGO might have been better advised to go with another program that featured Esfandiari and Laak in starring roles. In 2014, Esfandiari and Laak were the focal points of a program called Underground Poker. The pilot program aired on Discovery Channel and featured the gentlemen traveling the country and getting into various “underground” (non-casino) cash games. The show wasn’t picked up for future broadcasts by Discovery and, it seems, Underground Poker has languished in television purgatory since then.

There is not a solid date or time as to the airing of Major Wager, except announcements that it will begin streaming on PokerGO “the week of September 4.” The program may be a fun interlude and it does match up comedically (potentially) with Poker Nights, another original program airing on PokerGO. The big question, however, is will poker’s fandom watch programming that isn’t poker intensive? The answer could be the “make-or-break” factor in the success of PokerGO.

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Poker Central Introduces Poker Masters Tournament Series

 Poker Central Introduces Poker Masters Tournament Series

The ARIA Resort & Casino has seemingly become the place to go in Las Vegas for a big tournament series if one can’t or does not want to play in the World Series of Poker at the Rio. And in a bit of unheralded news from a couple weeks ago – perhaps overshadowed by the WSOP and Poker Central’s need to promote its new subscription streaming service, PokerGO – Poker Central has announced that it will launch a new high stakes tournament series at the ARIA in September. The Poker Masters will run for a week, from September 13th through September 20th.

Unlike many week-long poker festivals that try to fit in as many tournaments as possible, the Poker Masters will consist of just five events, but that is because of the hefty price tag on each: four $ 50,000 buy-in events and one $ 100,000 buy-in event.

The $ 50,000 tournaments will all permit one re-entry per player and, as an incentive to get players to commit to playing, Poker Central and ARIA will not charge a rake to anyone who registers “on time.” Late entries and re-entries will be subject to a rake.

And then, anyone who plays in all four $ 50,000 tournaments will be able to enter the $ 100,000 “Main Event” rake free.

“Poker Masters is a testament to PokerGO’s commitment to deliver the highest quality live poker programming,” said Joe Kakaty, president of Poker Central, in a press release. “We look forward to continually expanding our live event offering throughout the year to provide our subscribers the opportunity to watch the best content the game has to offer.”

The Poker Masters tournament series will implement a 30-second shot clock “per hand” (though one would assume this means “per action”) and every player will have three 60-second time banks per day. This is similar to Action Clock that the World Poker Tour just announced, though the WPT structures its time banks a bit differently.

In a nod to the annual Masters golf championship in Augusta, Georgia, the Poker Masters (the name can’t be a coincidence) will also be awarded one player the Poker Masters Purple Jacket, designed by Waraire Boswell.

The player who earns the most money across all five events (no goofy points system here, just pure money) will receive the Purple Jacket.

“We have hosted a number of successful high-stakes tournaments at ARIA and are looking forward to our upcoming Poker Masters event this fall,” said Sean McCormack, director of poker operations for ARIA Resort & Casino. “Poker Central has been a great partner over the years while leading the industry in the production of poker events worldwide.”

The first $ 50,000 event will begin on September 13th, with the other three $ 50,000 events beginning on each successive day. The $ 50,000 tournament will be two-day affairs. The $ 100,000 event will begin on September 18th and last three days. There are no limits on how many people can enter.

The Poker Masters will be streamed on PokerGo every day of the festival, except for September 17th. As this is a Sunday, it may just be that Poker Central decided not to spend money trying to go up against the NFL.

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Poker Central to Resurrect “Poker After Dark”

 Poker Central to Resurrect “Poker After Dark”

Poker Central has announced that it will be bringing back one of the most popular poker television shows, “Poker After Dark.” It will be broadcast live only on Poker Central’s PokerGO subscription service beginning Monday, August 7th.

“PokerGO’s vast content library will now include the return of one of the most beloved poker shows in the world as we continue our commitment to delivering premium live content our subscribers want to see,” said Poker Central president Joe Kakaty in a press release. “We plan to announce additional high stakes tournaments and original programming in the near future as we continue to build on the PokerGO offering.”

“Poker After Dark” debuted on New Year’s Day 2007, a time when online poker site-sponsored poker television was all the rage. Sponsored by the then-high flying Full Tilt Poker, the show featured six players – mostly Full Tilt pros or pros with close ties to Full Tilt pros – buying-in for $ 20,000 each in a winner-take-all Sit-and-Go. It aired Tuesday through Saturday at 2:05am ET on NBC (hence the “After Dark” part of the title) and at 1:00am ET on Sunday. The first five shows were regular episodes, airing the Sit-and-Go competition as it wound down to a winner. The Sunday program was a “director’s cut” summary of sorts with additional commentary and highlights.

In the show’s fourth season, some episodes featured cash games.

Ali Nejad served as the show’s commentator, though his kept his input to a minimum, as much of the point of “Poker After Dark” was to allow fans to hear the table banter.

“Poker After Dark” filmed seven seasons, but the show halted airing in September 2011 after the Black Friday scandal shut down Full Tilt Poker and its sponsorship of the show. The last few weeks did not air on NBC.

Ali Nejad will return to provide commentary for version 2.0 of “Poker After Dark,” along with Nick Schulman. While the original show’s game of choice was No-Limit Hold’em, the new one will feature different disciplines, including Pot-Limit Omaha and Mixed Games, designed to cater toward present-day player preferences.

Poker Central has said that Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari are already committed to participate in the first episode.

The new show will be produced by the top name in poker television, Poker PROductions, and will be filmed at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The final season of the show’s original run was also filmed at the ARIA Resort after four seasons at the South Point Casino and two at the Golden Nugget.

Poker Central is making a hard charge at becoming the center of poker programming. It surprised a lot of people by cutting a deal with the World Series of Poker to be the primary broadcaster of this year’s WSOP Main Event, which got underway Saturday. ESPN’s family of networks will air a few hours of the Main Event each day until the final table, while PokerGO will show the rest. ESPN will broadcast the entire WSOP Main Event final table, which will take place this month rather than in November.

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Poker Central Signs Distribution Deal With NBC

 Poker Central Signs Distribution Deal With NBC

After dropping their own efforts at cable broadcasting to start 2017, the streaming network Poker Central has signed a deal for cable television and distribution with NBC and in particular NBCUniversal Sports.

For those looking for Poker Central to fire up content on NBCSN (formerly known as the NBC Sports Network) immediately, it is going to be a bit. According to Variety’s Todd Spangler, the first programming to come from Poker Central will be the third rendition of the Super High Roller Bowl. The $ 300,000 event will be run May 28-31 at Aria in Las Vegas and NBCSN will be its cable broadcast home.

Both sides were complimentary of each other with the announcement of the deal. “Partnering with Poker Central allows us to continue to deliver high-quality programming, while creating a destination for both existing and new poker fans alike,” Gary Quinn, the Vice President of programming at NBC Sports Group, is quoted in a statement. J.R. McCabe, Poker Central’s Chief Digital Officer who previously was Senior Vice President of video at Time Inc., said the company is “creating a comprehensive platform that truly stands out in a crowded content space.”

After the Super High Roller Bowl, there is very little that Poker Central has done that might contribute to NBCSN’s programming. There are some documentaries, such as Pokerography (much like the History Channel’s Biography except dealing with poker players) and tournament director extraordinaire Matt Savage’s show Inside Poker (which took a look at the major players and situations in the world of poker and usually was taped from different casino locations across the country), which might be of interest to NBCSN. There has also been a great deal of talk about other “live” programming, but Poker Central has presented little detail as to what that programming might be.

In its very short history, Poker Central has had plenty of highlights and lowlights. In October 2015, Poker Central hyped itself up by discussing many of the programs that were mentioned previously. They also hyped themselves as the first “24/7 poker television station,” but that hype turned out to be a bit overblown. When they debuted at the beginning of October, the network was only available through streaming outlets such as the Roku, the Amazon Fire and video game systems such as the Xbox One.

Other than Pokerography and, later, Inside Poker, there was also very little original programming on the streaming channel. For the most part, the network depended on broadcasting old tournaments from the World Poker Tour and from Europe (which has embraced poker on television much more than North American broadcast outlets), with the PartyPoker Premier League receiving a great deal of airplay. There were also the downsides, such as showing the old Full Tilt Poker-driven program Face the Ace that only served to annoy poker fans.

Those in charge at Poker Central always said there would be a television or cable outlet for their programming – that the “discussions were ongoing” with several outlets – and that came true in February 2016. Signing a deal with Buckeye CableSystems, which services northern Ohio and southern Michigan, Poker Central was able to secure its first broadcast outlet that put its programming on the air. That also would prove to be the last broadcasting outlet for Poker Central as, in December 2016, it was decided that they would revert back to a streaming, internet-only network on New Year’s Day.

The deal does give NBCSN something that they didn’t have to compete with the other outlets such as ESPN, Fox Sports 1 and the CBS Sports Network:  poker programming. Of course, ESPN has long been the home for the World Series of Poker and Fox Sports 1 has offered the World Poker Tour for years. CBS Sports Network has run the popular Poker Night in America for the past couple of years, which left NBCSN – other than running old Poker After Dark episodes – out of the running with up-to-date poker programming.

This will change most likely this summer when Poker Central and the Super High Roller Bowl are shown over the various outlets (internet and cable) of NBCSN. It still remains to be seen, however, if Poker Central can deliver what they initially promised – poker programming that would be groundbreaking. Now that they’ve got a bit of a “safety net” with NBCSN, we will see if they can achieve that goal.

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