Just when you thought it would be a long wait before fresh episodes of the World Series of Poker hit the airwaves, ESPN announced their plans to air eight hours of coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker - Europe Main Event. This month, Sunday is poker night on ESPN, with the first three hour-long episodes scheduled to air on Feb. 7 at 10:00 p.m. EST and the rest to follow on Feb. 14 and 28. Norman Chad and Lon MacEachern call the action while High Stakes Poker's Kara Scott takes sideline reporting duties.
Truly one of the elite no-limit hold'em tournament fields of the year, the WSOP-E Main Event unfolded last October at London's Empire Casino. During the first night of coverage, the featured table is packed with poker's finest including Mike Matusow, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and includes a face-off between the legendary Doyle Brunson and the always-volatile Phil Hellmuth.
ESPN's WSOP-E coverage kicked off this past Sunday with the broadcast premiere of the inaugural Caesar's Cup, a creatively structured team competition that pitted "Team Americas" against "Team Europe." Daniel Negreanu captained the Americas team and drafted a squad that was both experienced and decorated: Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harman, John Juanda, Huck Seed and Phil Hellmuth. 2007 WSOP-E Main Event Champion Annette Obrestad led the European team, an exuberant, youthful bunch including Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Peter Eastgate, Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies, Dario Minieri, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier, and online qualifier John Harvey.
The Caesar's Cup took a best-of-seven format, leading off with four "doubles" rounds. Each team chose a pair of players to compete in a heads-up match. They shared a chip stack, but alternated play on each street — one player would take the pre-flop action, the partner would handle the betting on the flop, the first player would check or bet the turn, and the action returned to the second player on the river. If necessary, play would then move on to a series of three traditional heads-up matches.
Team Europe took a commanding 2-0 lead in the doubles matches. Antonius and Sahamies defeated Ivey and Seed and Grospellier and Harvey made quick work of Hellmuth and Negreanu. Although Team Americas came back when Harman and Brunson put away Obrestad and Minieri, Juanda and Greenstein fell to Eastgate and Hansen to make it 3-1 Europe.
Europe needed only one more win in the heads-up matches to seal their victory. Team captain Obrestad chose herself to play, while Negreanu drafted Huck Seed. Obrestad came out on top, however, and the Caesar's Cup remained in Europe — at least for this year.
The World Series of Poker-Europe Main Event will air on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 10:00 p.m. EST. Check your local listings. And while you're at it, how about following us on Twitter?