The poker world received good news yesterday when officials of the upstart North American Poker Tour (NAPT) announced they reached an agreement with ESPN2 to broadcast 16 one-hour episodes of its tournaments. The first airing of NAPT action will take place on April 19th and feature coverage of a $25,000 high-roller shootout tournament that will soon be played at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
They will also be airing coverage of a $5,000 buy-in tournament that starts at the Venetian this weekend as well as footage from tournaments that will be played at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut in early April. Finally, footage from the $25,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure High Roller event, which was won last month by William Reynolds, will air on May 17th.
This is pretty good news for the poker world as it means more poker coverage will be televised on ESPN networks. As of now, the only poker that hits the ESPN airwaves is World Series of Poker (WSOP) and WSOP Europe coverage. It is nice to see that non-WSOP events will be getting some TV time now as well.
As for the North American Poker Tour, it is entirely new. It was founded by PokerStars who must be involved in some high stakes bet with another company to see how many poker tours they can launch. They already have the European Poker Tour (EPT), Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), Russian Poker Tour (RPT), Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), Italian Poker Tour (IPT), Czech-Slovak Poker Tour (CSPT), Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT), and U.K. and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT). I’m not making that up, either. Every one of those tournament tours actually exists!
Their latest creation leaves even less room for the already suffering World Poker Tour (WPT). With recession-friendlier buy-ins ($5,000 vs. $10,000 and up) and the promise of ESPN2 airtime to top finishers, the NAPT seems pretty well positioned to succeed and perhaps deal the WPT a death-blow in the process.
On a personal note, I’ll be at the Venetian this weekend to attend the NAPT launch party featuring T-Pain and perhaps play in the $5k event. Keep an eye on this blog for coverage on that.