You are the lucky ones.
After outlasting 5,618 rounders and avoiding minefield after minefield for seven days, nine players became (pre-tax) millionaires by making the WSOP final table.
The very same final table that lasted a grueling 16 hours before Joe Hachem beat Steve "the Weaz" Dannenmann heads-up for the title. Mike "the Mouth" Matusow was the first elimated, and commented on his way out that the rest of the final table would be "very tight."
It was. Fortunately for you, you get the pre-packaged highlight reel. You won’t have to endure the pre-flop raising and fold-fest that dominated a good portion of final table play. You’ll see the action hands.
And this is a good thing.
Showdown all-ins and big bluffs are the "homerun equivalent" for poker. While it doesn’t show the texture and feel you need to play consistent, winning poker, it is what brings the ratings. And for television, it’s all about the ratings.
USA Today reported that last year’s WSOP ME final "…drew 2.8% of cable TV households, making it a bigger draw than nearly everything else on ESPN except NFL games, postseason baseball and marquee college football and basketball." Who would’ve thunk that just three years after Robert Varkonyi won the WSOP ME and the Travel Channel debuted the World Poker Tour, that our game of choice would be consistently outdrawing sports that have long been part of the American cultural fabric.
And whatever brings the ratings is what ESPN, the World Poker Tour, NBC, and Fox should keep showing. More viewers = bigger events = more money.
Sure, true students of the game would like to see how Joe Hachem changed gears, stole blinds, and played his position to win the event. But that’s not what most people want to see. Those maniacs you play online want to see the all-in plays. So give the fish what they want. They’ll end up padding your wallet and those of the pros we’ll all be rooting for next year, when the event will likely have over 8,000 participants.
In the end, the Joe Hachem vs. the Weaz heads-up battle is completely indicative poker’s current state. The poker phenemenom isn’t contained to the U.S. This thing is global. Hachem personifies poker’s reach. He’s a man born in Lebanon who moved to Australia, had some success in his adopted homeland and Europe, then crossed the Atlantic and won poker’s biggest event.
In many ways, the Weaz personifies the state of poker in the U.S. He’s a home-gamer who thought he had enough game to make a poker name for himself. He’s this year’s Moneymaker. He’s the guy that makes you think, "Hey, if he can do this…" He’s the kind of guy who will bring more people to the sport.
And you’ll see all of this in a tidy two-hour package, knowing the hole cards and getting to catch every bit of conversation and drama. It beats the crap of being there, on the outskirts, just guessing what’s going on and waiting for it all to unfold.
You are the lucky ones.
Enjoy the coverage.
And look for our article from us later this week on some things we’d do next year to make WSOP coverage even better.