Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

One thing I never thought Daniel Negreanu needed was a sidekick! Don’t get me wrong; his pairing with Phil Hellmuth as ESPN analysts during their coverage of the 2016 WSOP’s Final Table was positively brilliant, and the pair’s expertise was only exceeded by their dazzling repartee (along with the unpredictable and engaging play of last year’s champion, Qui Nguyen) .

At the time, “Kid Poker” repeatedly made the point that people (especially if they’re new to the game) need to have fun and be entertained—which includes different personalities, exciting styles of play, amusing table talk– if they’re going to become the next generation of poker fans. Negreanu always enjoyed “trash-chatting” at the poker table, but it has gotten harder to do with so many serious young players hiding under their headphones and refusing to engage.

Comedian Kevin Hart

Still, I’m not sure he could have predicted that the fun would be provided by actor and comedian Kevin Hart, recently signed as a spokesperson by PokerStars. At a press conference ostensibly called by the superstar, Hart, accompanied by PokerStars Team Pro Negreanu, made the announcement that he was partnering with PokerStars “to make poker fun again.” Hart described how deeply in love with the game he is, and cited that he’d played in the PokerStars Championship Bahamas back in January and was in Monte Carlo where he had just played the Super High Roller; in fact, he said he’d been playing poker for at least 10 years.

But, Hart continued at the presser, he could see what the game is missing, saying, “and the game is missing ME.”  He went on to say that the game has had Daniel for quite some time, and “Daniel has done his job and brought fun to the game, but what Daniel is missing . . . is the black sidekick!”

Kid Poker did not just play straight man to Hart, often showing his own funny side as they fielded questions from the press, making it very obvious that the two had already developed a close relationship. Most importantly, both are clearly dedicated to the concept of elevating poker so that it’s fun to play and fun to watch. What a boon to poker, and what a party for poker fans.

If you have the time, the full press conference can be found on, along with the article written by Frank Op de Woerd.

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Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

For those of you who haven’t heard the big news yet (think WSOP, not DJT) let me be the first to clue you in.

Do you remember the November Nine? Well, it’s about to be only a memory. Starting now, the World Series of Poker Main Event Champion will be determined in July! No more waiting three months for the players to resume playing for the coveted bracelet. Instead, from day 1 of the main event, ESPN and Poker Central will provide live coverage (on a 30-minute delay per gaming regulations).

This year, the final table will resume after only one day off, which will allow for a Final Table Preview Show to bring fans up to speed and, one assumes, to imbue the requisite hype to the event. Then, the final nine will play down to a champion over the span of three days, from July 20-22. Wow!

ESPN and Poker Central have formed a new partnership regarding the WSOP and have so far agreed to a four-year deal for this updated coverage.The WSOP also noted that any coverage not aired by ESPN will be streamed exclusively through Poker Central’s digital distribution channels.

I don’t know about you, but I am very excited by this news! …

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Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris
As most of you know, my primary focus in this blog has been on the Global Poker League. I’m looking forward to the GPL’s Playoffs and Championship to be held in Las Vegas, but since they are still a couple of weeks away, I thought I’d look around for something else poker-related to get excited about. Luckily, I happened upon a great article by Marty Derbyshire (@MartyDerby). Since I agreed with everything he wrote, I’ll share the highlights with you.

Derbyshire’s premise is that he wants to “highlight positivity in the poker community” so he is launching a weekly column titled Good For The Game. Since I have always stressed my belief that the Global Poker League was extremely good for the game of poker, it seemed like a good fit. And it was.

That is probably because he began his series by writing about the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event Final Table, which my husband and I watched together and thoroughly enjoyed. We both found the action at the table incredibly exciting, which is not something I could have ever written before (because I didn’t understand poker prior to learning through watching the GPL matches) and because of the exhilarating pace, engaging coverage by ESPN and the enormously entertaining players at the Final Table. It looked to us as though the players were really having fun. It made me want to play poker.Qui Nguyen wins 2016 WSOP Main Event

The champion, Qui Nguyen, was the improbable but highly likable winner, and it was his style of play that helped make this such a compelling event. As Derbyshire wrote, “Nguyen . . . outplayed a final table full of professional players using an aggressive and relatively unpredictable style . . . effectively putting pressure on his opponents at every step and challenging them to make tough decisions.”.

Our all-time favorite, Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, served as ESPN’s analyst along with poker super star Phil Hellmuth, so that expert pairing, along with their on point analysis, helped a lot.  Negreanu was quoted heavily in the article, which made sense since he was so obviously loving the action.

Daniel Negreanu with Phil Hellmuth

“I think the whole final table was good for poker,” Negreanu said. “The speed of play for one, and Qui Nguyen specifically, played a style that, for lack of a better term, was not the boring, fundamentally correct and game-theory-optimal style. He was fascinating and exciting, because at any moment he could just be all in. He was doing things that were outside the box and unconventional and I think that gives hope to people that are not 23-year-old grinders who have studied game theory. They think if this guy can win, then I can win too.”

The author and Negreanu agreed that in the end, people want to be entertained, and that different personalities, table talk, bluffing, interesting characters, the pace of the game and going “all in” are the kinds of things that attract people and turn them into poker fans.

Alexandre Dreyfus must be smiling broadly somewhere, since that’s exactly what he’s been saying about his innovative team poker concept and the GPL.  His goal has always been to turn poker into entertainment that connects to the existing poker community, attracts new poker fans and is part of the burgeoning mainstream entertainment and e-sport sector on a global scale. But we can talk about that next time.

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Texas Poker StoreBy: Queen of Hearts Paris

Returning to the question of whether poker should be considered a game or a sport, it’s probably a good idea to check out accepted definitions of the two words.

According to the dictionary, the word Game means a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators (which leaves the game of Solitaire, for example, out in the cold).

The same dictionary defines the word Sport as a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other, often for spectators (which, of course, doesn’t do a lot for the lone hunter or hiker who undoubtedly believe they are also involved in a sport).

Queen of Hearts ParisNotwithstanding my quibble with the number of people involved, it’s pretty difficult to distinguish between the two definitions, with the major exception being the word physical.

TPS Poker ChipsNo matter how physical one gets pushing a huge pile of chips into the middle of the poker table and/or pulling them in to sit in stacks in front of you, no matter how much you exert yourself shuffling and dealing cards, it’s a stretch to consider that physical activity.

In fact, the question might never have come up except for two facts. One is that ESPN and the Fox Sports Network cover poker regularly, certainly giving it the aura of sport. And two, the pressure in a major poker tournament is intense, the stakes are unbelievably high, players rake in millions and the last one standing is deemed the champion. Like most big-time sports.

Fortunately for anyone who finds all this confusing and/or irrelevant, the issue has actually been decided, at least in some circles.

In 2011, poker was officially accepted by the International Mind Sports Association at the organization’s congress held in Dubai, UAE. It is now considered a mind sport, meaning it requires skills that go way beyond luck, like chess or bridge.

So you can call poker a game, a sport or a mind sport and continue to enjoy playing it or watching it on TV or at a poker tournament. Just don’t call it gambling and you’ll stay out of trouble.

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