ESPN enters uncharted waters with final table broadcast of main event

As soon as you hear the first riff on ESPN’s coverage of the World Series of Poker, your heart rate immediately starts to rise when you see a huge poker chip popping up on your TV screen. When you see the faces of Phil Ivy, Daniel Negriano, and Phil Helmus, you feel as if you know them like your own brother-in-law. You are well aware of Norman Chad’s marital problems. While you have never actually stepped foot in Milwaukee’s Best Light No Limit Lounge, if you have, a dimly lit room with an ESPN Featured table will feel comfortable and cozy for you, just like your own living room.

If some or all of the above scenarios are applicable, Jamie Horowitz is the one to be grateful for. Or, if more appropriate, you can blame him for his irrepressible desire to actually watch poker games on TV for two hours a week. Horowitz, 32, is a senior producer at ESPN and has been the end of coverage of the network for the past three years, called the Pokker World Series. What Horowitz and his staff do is make tapes of thousands of people playing poker for more than 12 hours at a time into two neat packages per week. The shows are fast and fun, but they must feature real poker hands to make hardcore viewers happy. But the reason you can’t think of them as too technical is that doing so can turn off lighthearted fanaticism. 파워볼실시간

“It’s a challenge without a doubt,” says Horowitz from Boston, who helped create and produce the “National Head-Up Poker Championship” on NBC before joining ESPN in 2006. “I think what we’ve always been good at is detailing the journey of previously unknown players to the top of the poker world. People feel like they know Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, and Jamie Gold for hours just by watching these players play poker on ESPN. It’s always good news because it tells us we’re doing our job.”

Ratings have risen significantly for WSOP coverage this year, but the stakes will be raised for Horowitz and his staff next week. ESPN will be producing the “Same Day Coverage” of the final table of the Nov. 11 main event for the first time in reporting history, making the usual daunting task of producing a mesmerizing daytime poker program much more difficult.

The driving force behind WSOP’s decision to put the brakes on this year’s main event and play the final 117 days after nine finalists were decided was TV. Instead of letting viewers already recognize the winner by watching the weekly coverage, the idea was that a delay in becoming the 2008 main event champion would dramatically increase the number of dramas. So Nov. 9 was created.

But in Horowitz’s words, actually getting it all done will be a lot more complicated than you think. ESPN’s coverage of WSOP is much more different than your regular sporting event. In reality, it’s much more like the production of a show like Survivor than Monday Night Football.

Approximately 7,000 hours of broadcasts were recorded inside the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino this year. All of these tapes were sent back to New York, where the 441 Productions company was responsible for editing and producing the show over two months. The aforementioned Chad and his partner Ron McEhen made an audio recording to accompany the video – tada! – 16 hour-long poker broadcasts were in the can. The same strategy will be used at the final table next week, with major differences expected. “This is a show that very often takes weeks or months, and this time it will be produced in a couple of hours,” Horowitz explains. “We’re heading into the unknown. It’s an ambitious project. But we’re excited about it.”

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