How poker tournaments have become live TV events

Not too long ago, it may have seemed bizarre that watching card games on TV would ever be considered entertaining! However, with games as exciting as poker, it’s safe to say that watching the best players at the table has become a truly electric spectator sport.

Poker itself has exploded in the past decade or so largely thanks to online casinos emerging in the mainstream. It is now easier for people to find online listings and games thanks to comparison sites such as Poker Compare. But how did poker first translate to TV, and why is it still so popular?

Big money, big audiences

We largely have the World Series of Poker to thank for the rise of the game as a TV sport. It was around 2003 when poker TV started emerging in late-night slots across the networks and when people first had the chance to spy the sorts of big wins that people could come away with. At this point, we were still many years away from live streaming in any stable sense. Therefore, people’s experiences of poker would generally have come from casino and private games.

People come away with seven and eight-figure sums at the biggest poker events! Televised games only helped to drive this home for viewers. Poker players were suddenly big stars – and at the same time, we were able to see the big risks involved with such high-stakes games. It was thrilling to watch unfold, and it still is!

The game, expanded

The idea of watching people play poker – and the chance to see all of the hands at the table – became an exciting new option for audiences at home. When playing poker, you only ever get to see other people’s hands at the end of the pass.

With TV poker, you not only get to see inside the hands, but you also get an insight into how players bluff and build strategies. It’s really curious. This also means that there are plenty of opportunities for big characters to emerge.

Poker ‘characters’ such as Dan Bilzerian, among many others over the years, have emerged as appealing characters to follow and support. TV viewers are cheerleaders now for what was once a very private game!

You can’t cut the tension

Poker has exploded on TV largely thanks to the high stakes, the incredible talent, and the enormous levels of tension. This is high-octane sport at its trickiest. While some may claim that there’s no physical exertion required, bluffing certainly burns calories – and it’s fascinating to see how the biggest and best stars play the game, and the risks that they are all willing to take.

Therefore, it’s unlikely that we are going to see poker disappear from TV anytime soon. Live gaming and streaming have also only opened up the field further. It’s a new form of entertainment – and it’s truly fascinating to see big wins, and big losses, unfold before our eyes.


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