Over the last several years the game of poker has taken great strides to find a greater audience. However, poker's newly-found popularity would not have happened without the help of television. ESPN, Travel Channel, Game Show Network, and more recently, NBC and its spin-off CNBC, all have featured tournaments over the past year.
Traditionally, these tournaments have found large audiences, especially because networks have the ability to run repeats of a show many times. ESPN has been at the forefront of the coverage with its World Series of Poker coverage playing almost daily. The Travel Channel's World Poker Tour is a close second with its first-run and repeated episodes airing every Wednesday.
All these tournaments have several things in common. First, a large number of professionals play and with them come large entry fees. Featuring top players in the field provides drama for the audience and attracts viewers. It also creates fame for the players and can make a star virtually overnight.
The second thing that most televised tournaments have in common is the real reason why tournaments have the pros playing in them. The enormous cash prizes and other valuable winnings such as the coveted WSOP bracelet are the driving force for many. Either one of these prizes would satisfy almost any poker player's dreams. The competition to fulfill these desires brings even more drama to the screen, captivating audiences around the world.
Despite all the televised poker, one outfit hopes and they are hoping to capitalize on poker's appeal. It is banking on the audience's enormous appetite for poker programming. But unlike its competition, the new company is taking a slightly different approach.
Extreme Poker Ltd., is the latest company to try to cash in on the reality television poker craze. Instead of million-dollar cashes and well-known poker professionals, Extreme Poker is banking on the poker fan's willingness to watch an average person compete for $150,000 in cash and prizes.
Extreme Poker is the parent company of The Great Canadian Poker Tournament. With no entry fee, this tournament lets the average man or woman compete in a televised event. With few opportunities in life to have one's "15 minutes of fame" and The Great Canadian Poker Tournament offers a unique opportunity to achieve this. These two key features-no entry fee and televised action-are the main reasons why Extreme Poker makes the claim the event will be the largest poker tournament of its kind in North America.
Led by president Adam Feldman, a former senior casino manager and stockbroker, Extreme Poker believes there is plenty of room for success in the TV poker market. In a recent press release, Feldman said, "The demand for television product can not meet the insatiable appetite of the public."
Feldman believes that the televised action will find both a national and international market because of its content. The show will first start in Canada but will move toward global participation as the next step in its programming structure. The ultimate goal, will be to crown a world champion.
There is already talk of airing the show in syndication on seven networks and European investors and licensees have expressed serious interest.. Even the rarely-tapped South America television markets have shown interest in broadcasting and participating in future Extreme Poker programming ventures.
It will be interesting to see if another reality show featuring $150,000 in cash and prizes will keep viewers attention. This will be quite the battle for the show with record cash prizes at the WSOP and the ridiculous amount of cash given to the winners of the WPT.
Ed Note: Do you own a Mac? You can play online anytime you want at Pokerroom.com