Things have been relatively peaceful in the world between the World Poker Tour and the Travel Channel. Between them, they have brought a new prominence to the sport of poker and continue to be at the forefront of the game. There could be dark clouds on the horizon, however.
On September 19th, World Poker Tour Enterprises filed suit in California Superior Court to block the Travel Channel from interfering in its potential marketing of the Professional Poker Tour to other networks. The PPT was developed in 2004 to bring the "best of the best" to the felt in what would be essentially an all-star poker circuit. Through a difficult qualification procedure, only about 200 of the world's best poker players would be permitted to enter the PPT events. It would differ from the normal WPT in that all the tournaments are freeroll events, with no money put up by the players and the next logical step in the further development of the poker phenomenon.
The PPT seems to have been an idea that other networks have been interested in. The suit basically stated that the Travel Channel does have the rights to accept any poker productions from WPTE, but that the Travel Channel's window has closed and WPTE was eligible to accept offers from other channels. When one came for the Professional Poker Tour, the WPT did offer the option of matching the offer to the Travel Channel as per their agreement. It seems that the Travel Channel then circumvented the WPT and went directly to the third party channel and said that they couldn't enter discussions with the WPT for the PPT. Replying to the Travel Channel's move, the suit was filed by WPTE to block the interference put up by the Travel Channel.
Over the last three years, the WPT and the Travel Channel have been responsible for bringing poker into the living rooms of the world. This dispute won't have any effect on Season Four, stated Steve Lipscomb. "We need to be clear this has no effect on the World Poker Tour or the Travel Channel's commitment to the development and future of building the WPT . This is simply an issue of contractual interpretation with regards to the Professional Poker Tour program." The Travel Channel's fifteen-day span to match the PPT arrangement will expire on September 27th and, if the Travel Channel doesn't pick up the option, WPTE has stated they will enter into the agreement with the unnamed network for the Professional Poker Tour.
The Professional Poker Tour is the next evolution for poker. Much like the world of tournament golf years ago, the PPT would be the "all-star" poker that everyone looks for on television and would be a great jewel for any network. Hopefully the Travel Channel can see the potential for such a program and will keep the entirety of the World Poker Tour Enterprises' productions under the same roof.
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