With the first ever Alpha8 event less than a month away, the World Poker Tour announced Thursday who would fill the two-man commentary team for the upcoming High Roller series. Ali Nejad and Olivier Busquet will be paired up for the first time at the Seminole Hard Rock for the tour’s debut event.
Nejad is a veteran of poker television with almost a decade of experience in the industry. He’s best known for his work as the color commentator on Poker After Dark and for the National Heads-Up Poker Championship. Nejad most recently hosted the show “Road Trip” on ESPNU, and he’s appeared in poker programming on CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports, among other networks.
Joining him in the booth will be Busquet, a prolific online player with over $4 million in lifetime Sit-N-Go profits along with a WPT title to his name. Busquet has also provided commentary during WSOP Main Event coverage over the last several years.
“We are thrilled to welcome two of poker’s most thoughtful and outspoken voices to the WPT Alpha8 family,” said Adam Pliska, the president of the WPT. “With their combination of unsurpassed poker knowledge and outgoing personalities, Ali and Olivier will provide viewers with insightful and entertaining commentary that will ensure the show appeals to a wide audience including both serious poker players and casual fans of the game.”
“It’s my first time working with Olivier,” said Nejad, “And I’m looking forward to it. He’s obviously one of the most credible entities in the game. He comes from the online space, and he’s certainly a scholar and a theorist, helping to the game from a strategy stand-point – and he definitely fits the whole vibe of Alpha8.”
They join Lynn Gilmartin, who was recently announced as the anchor for the Alpha8 broadcasts. The veteran video hostess and reporter, along with Nejad and Busquet, will attempt to forge a new identity for the upstart tour.
“[The] World Poker Tour has a strong history of identifying dynamic talent and creating fun and engaging on-air teams whose personalities help draw viewers into the drama inherent in every televised final table,” said Pliska. “With this new cast, we’re confident that Ali, Olivier, and Lynn will continue the tradition created by Mike, Vince, and the rest of the WPT cast over the past 11 seasons.”
The Alpha8 broadcasts, which will begin in early 2014, will air on the Fox Sports 1 network. They are one of the first regular programs to be announced on the new all-sports network, which will prominently feature the UFC along with baseball, college basketball, college football and NASCAR.
“With FUEL TV and SPEED changing into Fox Sports 1 and 2, there’s going to be a brand new programming line-up,” said Nejad. “I know that the WPT has a long-standing relationship with FOX Sports. For me personally, as talent, its exciting to break into a brand new network that’s looking to compete with some of the big boys in that space.
Nejad and Busquet will jump right into their roles with the debut Alpha8 event, which gets underway on August 26 at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Running in conjuncture with a $10 Million Guaranteed Main Event, this Alpha8 event tournament carries a $100,000 price tag that promises to bring together a group of wealthy amateurs and the game’s best players.
The action at the table will not be the only element of the broadcast, with viewers also getting a glimpse into the lives of the people who play for some of the highest stakes in the world.
Poker enthusiasts will have high expectations for these broadcasts, with two of poker’s most popular personalities at the helm. The wealth of experience that each brings to the table, along with their unique perspectives on the game, gives Nejad the confidence that the team will work well together.
“He was certainly one of the few people who I wanted to work with,” said Nejad, “And one of the few people that would be appropriate for the vision of Alpha8 as it was explained to me. I think that Oliver is going to bring a lot of credibility, and he bridges the gap between the old school and the new school. Olivier has a well-rounded perspective and the ability to analyze the game, and he does it in an incredibly articulate manner.”
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