I'll have more after the media conference call at 1 p.m. CST, but for now here is the press release:
Final Nine Players Will Square-Off This November on ESPN
LAS VEGAS – May 1, 2008 – The World Series of Poker® (WSOP) Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light today announced a groundbreaking change that will more closely align the televised presentation of the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious poker tournament with other premier sports broadcasts.
The last nine players of the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16.
“Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “Now fans and viewers will ask ‘who will win’ our coveted championship bracelet instead of seeing ‘who won.’ The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented.”
This change in how the Main Event final table is staged will bring the excitement and drama of high-stakes WSOP tournament play closer to millions of fans around the globe.
All other 2008 WSOP tournament structures and schedules remain unchanged. This announcement affects only the final nine players of Event #54, the Main Event World Championship.
Continuing the trailblazing efforts that have made the WSOP the industry standard, this move is being made in close collaboration with ESPN, the television rightsholder of the WSOP, and the WSOP Players Advisory Council (PAC), the commissioner-appointed committee of professional and amateur poker players who provide guidance and perspective to the WSOP leadership team.
"It's an exciting time for the World Series of Poker and ESPN," said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN Content Development. "This adjustment will add a new element to a very successful and popular event. We look forward to documenting all of the exciting stories that make the WSOP Main Event the seminal competition in all of poker."
“This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table and that is good for all of us,” said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and one of today’s most successful and popular poker professionals. “Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I’m very excited about this decision and can’t wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!”
The 39th annual World Series of Poker will take place from May 30th to July 14th at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event will begin on July 3rd, with the Final Table being determined on July 14th. The nine players who advance to the Final Table will return to the Rio on November 9th to play down to just two players. The final two, will go head-to-head late in the evening on November 10th to determine the champion and winner of poker’s ultimate prize.
The winner of the Main Event is expected to be crowned in the early hours of November 11. ESPN will edit the two-day Final Table action and televise it in a two-hour program from 9:00-11:00 PM ET on Tuesday, November 11 just hours after the winner is crowned. This is akin to television coverage of the Olympic Games, where because of time zone differences, the telecaster schedules programs “same day” in primetime to provide the largest possible audience a convenient viewing time.
ESPN will begin its coverage of the 2008 World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 22. Viewers will see two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through November 11 (except November 4 when a special preview of the Final Table will be aired at 10 p.m.). Telecasts will be aired at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 22 through September 30 and at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from October 7 through November 11.
Each of the players who make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table will receive ninth place prize money on July 14, when the finalists are determined. Harrah’s will then provide each of those players with an all expense paid trip for two for their return to Las Vegas in November to play the final portion of the tournament.
From July 14 to November 9, a span of 117 days, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available.