The Week That Was: WSOP on ESPN, FS+G Lineup, Tournament Action and More

There’s tons of news to report in this edition of The Week That Was includes the expansion of World Series of Poker coverage on ESPN, the announcement of the Season One roster for a new professional poker league, tournament results from around the world and lots more.

ESPN expands WSOP coverage, includes “live” broadcasts

The Black Friday indictments severely reduced the number of hours of poker coverage in recent weeks, but a ray of hope for poker enthusiasts came from ESPN’s announcement of expanded coverage of the 2011 World Series of Poker.

Coverage begins on June 2 on ESPN3.com with coverage of the WSOP Grudge Matches, featuring three WSOP Main Event heads-up battles from the past. Final day coverage of the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship airs the following day, also on ESPN3.com. The final preliminary event getting televised coverage is the final day of the $50,000 Players’ Championship, also appearing on ESPN3.com.

Six days of Main Event coverage starts July 14 with Day 3 of the $10,000 Main Event. ESPN3.com will not broadcast hole cards, but when programming moves over to ESPN2 hole cards (in hands that reach the flop) will be shown on a 30-minute delay. Commentary from Lon McEachern and David Tuckman will alternate every 30 minutes from two feature tables, including all-in and call hands from either table. Day 8 of the Main Event will start on ESPN July 19, moving to ESPN2/ESPN3.com later that evening as the field plays down to the November Nine.

For those worried (or happy) there’s been no mention of Norman Chad, he’ll be part of the edited WSOP coverage starting July 26 and continuing through the final table in November.

FS+G reveals Season 1 lineup

Since the announcement by Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack of the creation of Federated Sports + Gaming, a new professional poker league, the poker community wondered who would make up the roster and the qualification process for determining the members. This week, the announcement of the Season One roster and qualifying criteria answered those questions.

The 218 players (including Duke, who will not participate) named so far receive tour cards good for two to five years. Lifetime tournament earnings, major titles won, and recent tournament success are determining factors in the length of tour cards a player has earned.

Players not already named still have until August 1 to earn Season One eligibility. All events feature a $20,000 buy-in and be held at the Palms in Las Vegas, with the first event held August 9.

Von Kriegenbergh, Elder and Johnson tournament winners

The month of May is usually a quiet period before the WSOP gets underway, but a shift in the tournament schedule means players around the world have more opportunities to claim a title of their own. The World Poker Tour debut in Florida was also the first WPT event for Taylor von Kriegenbergh. His tournament rungood  continued as he defeated Curt Kohlberg heads-up to  win the Seminole Hard Rock Showdown in Hollywood, Florida, earning over $1,100,000. Season IX of the WPT concludes with their $25,000 World Championship at the Bellagio May 14-20th.

In Europe, Italy was the latest stop on the European Poker Tour as Rupert Elder earned €930,000 ($1,330,000 US) at the Casino San Remo. Max Heinzelmann finished second in consecutive EPT events at a final table that featured Xuan Liu falling short in duplicating Liv Boeree’s success last year, finishing third. The final event of Season 7 kicked off Saturday with Day 1a of the €10,000 Grand Final, held for the first time in Madrid, Spain.  Streaming coverage of the final table will air on PokerStars.tv, with European TV covering the final four tables, with hole cards revealed.

The World Series of Poker Circuit visited Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for their most recent $1,600 Main Event. The final table lasted just under three hours as Chris Johnson defeated a field of 496 players to earn his first WSOP-C gold ring.  Johnson also collected over $150,000 and returns to Caesars Palace later this month to participate in the $1,000,000 National Championship. Adam Hui‘s fifth place finish in the Main Event earned him enough points to win the Casino Champion title and an automatic seat in the National Championship. The next Main Event commences May 8 at Harrah’s Chester, near Philadelphia with a prize pool guaranteed at $400,000.

Black Friday updates

A tumultuous week for Cereus Poker, home of Absolute Poker and UB, as they fought off rumors of bankruptcy.  In a statement by their parent company Blanca Games, they admit the “liquidation” of their workforce; but announced plans to rehire up to 20 percent of the employees as part of a scaled-down company focusing on non-US players. Reports of employees of the AP/UB customer service center not being paid led officials to raid several offices Friday, including a visit to PokerStars’ office, looking for information. The Tao of Poker blog provides more details.

PokerStars allowed players to convert their Frequent Player Points (FPPs) into VIP Reward Bonuses on Friday.  Once purchased, the bonuses were then converted into cash to allow players to cash out immediately. Full Tilt Poker’s US players FAQ alerted players to expect an announcement on when cashouts would be available by May 15.

Elsewhere…

The third annual Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) kicks off on Sunday on PokerStars with 38 events in a series of disciplines and buy-ins with $25 million in guaranteed prize pools spread out over the following 15 days.  Erik Seidel replaces Phil Ivey at the top of ESPN’s “The Nuts” ranking of the top players in the game. The Lock Poker Challenge concluded with Jose “Girah” Macedo named the winner, then disqualified the following day over accusations of multi-accounting.  Poker hostess Tatjana Pasalic becomes the newest sponsored player at Bodog.

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Kevin Mathers

Widely known by his twitter handle "Kevmath", many consider Kevin a go-to source for news and information in the poker community. Kevin finished on the bubble in the 2014 edition of the BLUFF Power 20.
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