Alexandra Botez Wants the WSOP Main Event Stream to Be Free; Do You Agree?
Don't hide the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event live-stream behind a paywall, so says chess superstar Alexandra Botez, who has become an avid poker player. Botez is a regular at 888poker, and represented the online poker site during the 2023 WSOP. She cashed in the Main Event, finishing 1,040th for $17,500.
PokerGO holds the rights to all live-streamed coverage of poker's most prestigious tournament, which is set to play down to a $12.1 million winner on Monday, with the final table beginning Sunday at 2 p.m. PT. Poker fans can catch all the action live (on delay), but viewing it isn't free.
In this edition of The Muck, we share Botez's tweet addressing the issue along with the response to it from the poker community. But before we do that, we'd like to invite you to follow our live reporting of the entire Main Event final table right here at PokerNews.
Chess Superstar Critical of PokerGO
When Poker Central (now PokerGO) first launched in 2015, the app was free and the company generated revenue exclusively through advertisement. As the platform grew, it eventually became a subscription-based service, and the commercials were eliminated. Poker fans who pay for PokerGO and it's exhaustive library of programming — High Stakes Poker, WSOP, etc. — tend to enjoy it. You might even call it the Netlix of poker streaming.
Throughout the summer, PokerGO is the home for WSOP live-streams, but the final tables that don't take place on the PokerGO YouTube channel air exclusively on the app, which costs money ($14.99/month or $99.99 per year, though there are easy-to-find promo codes that will make it cheaper). Some poker fans, especially the casual fans, have been critical of PokerGO for charging to view the World Series of Poker. Botez, however, didn't go that far, but she did take aim at the streaming service for putting the Super Bowl of poker behind a paywall.
"Paywalling the greatest spectacle of any sport will inevitably lead to a decrease in its relevance," Botez writes.
The 2023 WSOP Main Event had a record 10,043 entrants, so the tournament has become far from irrelevant. But Botez expressed concern for the long-term health of the game.
"50 years ago, half the human population watched Boxing’s heavyweight title (Ali’s most viewed fight had 2 billion viewers). Now the biggest fights are getting just over 1 million PPV," she continued.
Prior to PokerGO taking over the live-streaming duties for the Main Event, and CBS Sports Network airing edited versions of the tournament, ESPN handled the TV coverage. The worldwide leader in sports played a crucial role in growing the game in the 2000s as the WSOP became readily available, for free, to millions of casual sports fans.
That differs greatly from the current broadcast deal that has the live-streamed coverage for much of the WSOP, including the Main Event, hidden behind a paywall, and the television coverage now on a network that isn't even available with most basic cable packages.
Does the Poker Community Agree with Botez?
There's no doubt that many hardcore poker fans and players are fine with paying to view the Main Event. In fact, a large chunk of them likely already have a PokerGO subscription anyway. But the pros and die-hards represent the tiniest fraction of the entire poker community, and many of the recreational poker playing segment — the largest segment by miles — likely won't be watching the Main Event final table beyond the free hour on YouTube.
"Hard agree. Also can't possibly be making much more than the ad revenue from youtube or getting a unique sponsor for the event. I'd have it on in the background (like i did the million $ cash games) but ain't going out of my way for their app etc," Drew Patchell wrote in response to Botez's tweet.
"Meanwhile I'm watching chess tournaments streaming for free and the game has a far bigger place in my world than it used to. No doubt total unpaywalling of tournaments & influencers (hi Botez sisters!) has been a big part of the surge in interest in chess," @wagefreedom shared.
"I’ve been a long time @PokerGO subscriber but I agree with this completely. By limiting access to the final table, the game risks losing its cultural impact and relevance over time. That is a huge blow to poker overall," PokerGO customer @J_O_E_L wrote.
While most responses were in agreement with Botez, there were some solid points made by those who are on board with PokerGO charging poker fans to watch the WSOP Main Event.
"Give me a break. You putting up the funds for production?" @deeeegy asked Botez, a rhetorical question but a sound point about how expensive it is to air the WSOP.
"We used to not be able to watch the entire main at all. We had to wait for a polished edited version with added commentary to come out. @PokerGO made the whole thing available to die hards who wanted more," Collin Capone tweeted.
"I think any interested poker player is comfortable paying the cost for PokerGo. If you're referring to bringing in more casual players I'm not sure a $10,000 buy-in is the level of poker that would get them into the game," Austin Herdina argues.
One final point that should be made is that the 2023 WSOP Main Event will be free in the fall for anyone who has CBS Sports Network on their cable package. So, even those who don't want to pay to watch the final table on PokerGO can later catch an edited version on cable just like it's been for decades. Many forget that until 2011 when ESPN began live-streaming the final table, it wasn't until months after a champion was crowned before the public was able to watch any part of poker's world championship.
In this Series
- 1 The 2023 WSOP Main Event is Underway: Jamie Gold Ready for Record to Be Broken
- 2 Agony of Defeat: Poker Player Runs Kings into Aces Twice Vs. Same Opponent, Busts Main Event Day 1
- 3 Espen Jorstad in Action, Ready to Defend World Championship
- 4 July 5, 2019: Reliving the Craziest Day in WSOP Main Event History
- 5 Poker Boom 2.0: 2023 WSOP Main Event Officially the Largest Ever
- 6 Two Players Bust on the First Hand of 2023 WSOP Main Event Day 1D
- 7 The Greatest Show: Hellmuth and Jungleman Make Grand Entrance into 2023 WSOP Main Event
- 8 Ex-Manchester City Striker Sergio Aguero Makes Surprise Entry into 2023 WSOP Main Event
- 9 Would You Fold Kings Preflop on Day 1 of the WSOP Main Event in This Spot?
- 10 Alexandra Botez & 888poker Ambassadors Make Day 2 of Main Event
- 11 Rapper Hoodie Allen Abandons Chips in Poker World Championship for Friend's Wedding
- 12 Online Poker Pioneer Isai Scheinberg Plays WSOP Main Event for the First Time
- 13 Phil Hellmuth Coolered Out of WSOP Main Event by Nicholas "Dirty Diaper" Rigby
- 14 2023 WSOP Main Event Registration Closes w/ 10,043 Entries & $12.1M to Winner
- 15 Tom Dwan Busts WSOP Main Event; What Would You Do Here?
- 16 Popular Rapper Returns in Time for Poker World Championship...And Gets Aces Cracked
- 17 The Muck: Was the WSOP Main Event Payout Structure Absurd?
- 18 Queen on the River Dashes Nicholas Rigby's WSOP Main Event Title Dreams
- 19 Pollster Nate Silver's Chances of Winning 2023 WSOP Main Event are Now 0%
- 20 Nicholas Rigby Busts Chance Kornuth in a 200 Big Blind Pot on Day 5
- 21 Moneymaker, Hachem Bust Day 5; All Past WSOP Main Event Champs Out
- 22 Nicholas Rigby Talks "Dirty Diaper" Strategy in the 2023 WSOP Main Event
- 23 Nightmare Runout Knocks Alexandra Botez Out of the WSOP Main Event
- 24 Father & Daughter Make the Money of the 2023 WSOP Main Event
- 25 Kings Lose to Aces on the Bubble of the 2023 WSOP Main Event
- 26 Do You Know Which Poker Player Just Set the Record of Cashing Seven Consecutive Live WSOP Main Events?
- 27 2023 WSOP Main Event Hands of the Week: Royal Flush Twice in 4 Hands; Miracle Running Kings
- 28 Would You Rather Get a WSOP Main Event Seat for Life or $200,000?
- 29 Alexandra Botez Wants the WSOP Main Event Stream to Be Free; Do You Agree?
- 30 Can Some Fool's Gold Help Adam Walton Capture the 2023 WSOP Main Event Bracelet?
- 31 Jones, Weinman and Walton to Battle for 2023 WSOP Main Event Title
- 32 Pros vs. Jones: One of These 3 Players is Hours Away From Poker Immortality
- 33 Adam Walton Jams 80 Big Blind Stack Into Pocket Aces, Busts WSOP Main Event
- 34 Daniel Weinman Wins Record-Breaking 2023 WSOP Main Event for $12,100,000
- 35 How Much Money Players at 2023 WSOP Main Event Final Table Really Made