Monday, Nov 14, 2011 Poker Junkie Op-Ed: Time to Put November Nine Gimmick to Bed
For the first time ever the WSOP November Nine was broadcast "virtually live" with a 15-minute delay including hole cards.
But while PokerJunkie blogger compncards enjoyed the live broadcast, he still thinks it's time for a total rethink of the November Nine concept.
Live Coverage Boring For Casual Fans
For serious poker fans and poker players, the live coverage of the final table of the 2011 WSOP Main Event presented something many have never experienced with poker television.
Players got to sit and watch poker as it actually unfolded and not watch the edited version that's usually broadcast on ESPN.
Hole cards were only shown for players involved in the hands and only after the conclusion of the hand.
While serious players really appreciated this broadcast, casual fans by and large seemed to hate it.
I've received numerous comments from fans and most have said that within a few minutes of turning on the broadcast they turned it off.
Casual fans want to see the hole cards for all of the players in action and want to see them as the action is happening.
In this ADD society, fans don't have the patience or the appreciation for poker to be played out like it's supposed to be played.
Think about it. Why are there so many players that multi-table in online poker?
Yes, part of it is to "increase their hourly gain." But much of it is to stave off boredom.
Focusing on the actual play is great for your die-hard fans and players, but the casual fan will continue to run from the coverage without the benefit of seeing it all as it happens.
Time to Revisit November Nine Concept
I've never been a huge fan of the November Nine concept and since its first year it's proven to be nothing more than a glorified gimmick.
Ratings were up the first year but have fallen almost every year since.
That changed a little last year as it seemed to capture the true spirit and enthusiasm I think the WSOP envisioned for the broadcast, but that change reverted back this year.
Maybe it was Black Friday or maybe it was the players involved, but this year's November Nine seemed to be one of the blandest to date.
Yes, there were a lot of Ben Lamb fans and Ben Lamb wagon-jumpers that were hyped up, but once the broadcast started up it wasn't the same.
Fans seemed a lot more muted than in past years and it wasn't until the heads-up match between Pius Heinz and Martin Staszko that we started to get the true feeling of excitement.
Even then, this seemed more like two rails for a preliminary bracelet than it did for the Main Event.
If the live broadcast continues, then it's probably time to put the November Nine concept to bed.
The delay from July to November seemed almost unnecessary this year.
A week or so delay to allow for production values and short-term buildup is fine, but the extended delay no longer helps either the players or poker in general.
Announcements are expected soon from the WSOP and many feel it will be an announcement regarding the November Nine.
Here's hoping they reexamine both the November Nine and the live broadcast to find ways to improve both.