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NBC Takes Poker "Over The Top"

from The Addict :: for the addicted

Nhpc_logomIt sounds exciting: a non-cable, major broadcast network (NBC) comes up with a program called the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, a $20,000 buy-in tourney featuring one-on-one matches between 64 of the world's best (well 60 of the world's best and a handful of celebs), modeled after the NCAA Basketball tournament with brackets and all. The winner goes on, loser goes home, then 64 down to 32 to the Sweet 16, then Elite Eight, the Final Four and of course the championship Heads Up match.

But it's not exciting. That is, not unless of course your favorite movie is Stallone's arm wrestling, big rig flop, Over The Top.

That's what I felt like I was watching, an arm wrestling tournament with 32 tables of one-on-one match ups, man vs. man with the occasional woman vs. man. (Note to Self: I'd much rather lose to a woman playing poker then in an arm wrestling match).

ImagesThe problem I have with NBC coming up with a heads-up only tournament is that it's not Texas hold'em. There's no showing of the journey, the shifting gears, the stages of play, how one player became short stacked to another's big stack, the battles that take place at a full table and the anticipation of finding out who settles for the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place money and who's left to play heads-up for the real money. Instead, it starts off where Texas hold'em finishes. There's no beginning or middle, just an end. It's its own game.

On the plus side, it's nice to see a major broadcast network figuring out a way to televise a poker tournament as it's great for the game. Though it seems like the same people who think soccer should be played on a smaller field and have bigger goals may be the ones pushing for this basketball style of tournament. I imagine that future poker players attracted to the game after watching this version of hold'em will have a unique style of play, which could be advantageous to the rest of us. And before you know it - NBC will take poker primetime on "Must See TV" with "Win Phil Hellmuth's Money," a game show where ordinary contestants get a chance to play Phil in a heads-up match. It would be like "Win Ben Stein's Money" meets "Who Wants to be a Millionaire".


Let me know what you think about NBC's National Heads-Up Poker Championship. If you didn't catch the first round of this tournament last week on NBC or its replay on CNBC catch it this Sunday as they narrow it down to the Sweet 16. For details on the event and TV schedule visit National Heads-Up Poker Championship

And if you like spoilers and want to see who wins visit this link

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the addict

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Complex Slim

I agree that the coverage is a little lacking in terms of actual poker being played but I do think that it has some redeeming qualities. Many people don't have that much experience playing heads up and to able to see what hands the pros are playing can be a real help. It's a nice variation on the theme but it certainly won't be taking over the WPT or ESPN that's for sure.

Speaking of a show with lacking coverage when it comes to showing actual poker play and tournament strategy, I think the Poker Superstars Invitational is just awful. Their blind structure is setup so ridiculously steep that the game turns into a bunch of players waiting for a marginal hand to move All-In with. I would much rather watch the Heads Up Championship where there is at least some manuevering with hands played to the river. I don't think I've seen a PSI where there were actual strategies being played out. No time to set people up, not enough chips to make any moves, etc. And worse yet is that they go to the chip count scoreboard after every hand. A couple of times they have gone to comercial only to return with a new chip leader! How would that not be important to show?


Yeh I watched this a bit yesterday and also caught the rebroadcast of the tournament of champions. with respect to the latter, it was good to see again, yet seeing Duke destroy Hellmuth by turning over just the 9 when she had the two pair was much better the first time...seeing these two shows on the same day it seemed ESPN does much better building the beyond the felt stories of the players...the profile they did on Hellmuth and his meditations, thanking the powers of the universe, is pretty hilarious. Perhaps NBC lacks the broadcast/licensing rights to show past successes/tournaments that a WPT can or ESPN can...that would help as filler and give the casual observer more insight.


Another problem w/ NBC's coverage: there is no real focus on the personalities, so you're not compelled or drawn to any one person. If you're not into poker already, then you're not going to hook new viewers. (Spoiler) Hellmuth, Fischman, Esfandiariadnfasdli (sp) all go far, but there has been little attention paid to these guy's personalities (except Hellmuth a little, but nothing we didn't already know). Missing a big opportunity there.


watching this nbc tournament is like watching a bio movie (ali, ray, etc.). it's all "here's what happened" but no insight or set-up.

and mariah carey was smoking wearing a basketball jersey at that all star game a few years back. of course, that's all she wore.


As I lay in bed saturday morning watching tv, I didn't know which was more painful: my teeth-shattering, nothin-but-beer hangover, or watching James Woods act like the smartest man on the planet. But, that Daniel Negraneu (sp?) dude was pretty damn cool. He's the only other person besides Fletch who didn't look like a schmuck wearing a basketball jersey off-court. He said he was off to pick up a Lakers jersey after beating the owner of the Lakers. Hilarious. Hopefully he was going to grab a vintage purple and gold 32.

Kareem's in the wash.

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