How do you decide which of the 55 events at the 2007 World Series of Poker would be the most entertaining to show on television? Well in the best of all possible worlds, the television crew would be on hand for the entire five weeks of the preliminary events and the decisions would be made based on who makes the final table. But we do not live in a perfect world, so decisions are made in advance based on both the WSOP schedule and the ESPN crew's schedule. This year there will be more events and more days aired than in 2006 and there is even some flexibility built into the schedule. Thirty-two hours are currently on the schedule, which is a full ten hour increase over 2006.
In all, 10 of the scheduled 55 events are on the taping schedule, beginning with Event #1 on June 1st and ending, of course, with the Main Event Final Table on July 17th. But you won't have to wait for several months to see these events on ESPN; in fact, Event #1 is tentatively scheduled to begin airing on July 10th even before the Main Event #55 is over. A fast turn around time was a big goal of ESPN, and the WSOP this year. The idea was to get the WSOP shows into the summer months and pump up the summer ratings; the secondary goal was to get the WSOP off of the late fall schedule in the United States when pro and college football plus the baseball playoffs and World Series are big sports draws.
Here is the tentative schedule, two hours of coverage each evening:
Our sources tell us that July 10th is the penciled-in air date for Event #1, the $5,000 Mixed Hold'em tournament. This coverage is planned for two hours with the two shows running back-to-back. We are saying "tentative" with all of these air-dates because clearly the schedule is only in the planning stages and there is a lot of flexibility in both the taping and the airing plans.
A July 17th air date would likely feature Event #3 a $1500 NLHE tournament, which very likely will be the largest field other than the Main Event. This event will be covered in a single one hour program. Immediately following the Event #3 coverage will be another one hour show, this one covering either Event #4, a $1500 Pot Limit Hold'em tournament or Event #7 the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha tournament.
Next on the shooting schedule are two weeks, two hours each and two tournaments each. First, the always entertaining $1,000 NLHE with rebuys Event #8, where the professionals show us how a $1,000 buy-in event can become a $20K or even $50K event. The second tournament of this night will be Event #13, the $5,000 Pot Limit Hold'em.
The next twofer will be Event #28 is a $3,000 NLHE tournament, which will be followed by Event #30, a $2500 NLHE 6-Handed event. A close look at the schedule suggests that these will be two of the more popular events for the professionals during this stretch of the WSOP and could produce some very interesting final table confrontations.
ESPN is hedging their bets on the next show with either two hours of coverage of Event #31, the NLHE Heads Up competition or one our of Event #33 $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha w/rebuys and one hour of Heads Up or maybe something else. Heads Up, of course, often translates to good television because the players all tend to be big names and the nature of Heads Up usually leads to a lot more table talk and of course a lot more knock out hands but ESPN has the PLO event as a back-up if the new WSOP Heads Up format does not make for good television.
Also on the taping schedule is Event #50, the $10,000 World Championship Pot Limit Omaha tournament. This will be another of the star-filled events and ESPN has recognized the draw of games other than No Limit Hold'em when the field is full of recognizable faces.
Then just a bit more than a month after it ends, the $10,000 Main Event is tentatively scheduled to begin airing on August 21st. A full twelve hours over six weeks are on the early schedule, which is four hours more than last year. This should translate into even more in-depth coverage than last year with both extended broadcast hours and the anticipated smaller starting field.
You will notice that the $50,000 HORSE tournament is not on the summer schedule. This major event added last year is being properly played as both a great tournament and potentially great television. Scheduled to play out over five days late in June, the current broadcast schedule calls for the $50K HORSE tournament to be a fall special event shown over five weeks and ten hours in October.
While total hours and dates remain flexible at this time, it appears the late summer nights will be filled with the 2007 WSOP on ESPN