For over 30 years, poker players and fans alike have been tuning in to Poker TV to see the strategy and thrill of a live poker game. Since that time, the way that people watch television has revolutionized, and Poker TV has evolved with it, and what started with a single televised poker event has become a whole world of poker, right at your fingertips.
The original Poker TV began in the United States back in the 1970s and consisted exclusively of television broadcasts of live poker tournaments, namely the main event of the World Series of Poker. Although these games offered viewers their only glimpse into the life and events of big name players in poker and the way that they executed their strategy, a lot was missing. Technology at the time meant that spectators could only see the game from an outsider’s perspective, which had its limitations because those watching at home could only truly understand the players’ strategy in retrospect or by using video playback, which was too expensive to be practical until the 1980s, and, even then, was horribly inconvenient. Likewise, commentators also had to guess what was happening, which made for dialogue that wasn’t overwhelmingly engaging for the viewer at home.
It would be two decades before a breakthrough transformed Poker TV, making it far more entertaining for the at-home spectator as well as amateur and professional players who were trying to examine strategy. In Europe, the “hole cam” was born– a device that sat under the table and showed what cards a player had, giving the audience the perspective of each player. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking innovation came at an awkward moment in Poker TV history, as Poker TV in Europe was grinding to a halt, and the US was only televising a one-hour synopsis of the World Series of Poker tournaments.
The Best Poker TV Shows
Poker in the United States can be found on ESPN, Bravo, GSN, and several other major networks, such as CBS, NBS, and CNBS, when the shows have been syndicated. In Great Britain, television stations which broadcast poker shows include Channel 4, Challenge, and Five, while Italy shows Pokermania on Italia 1. In Europe at large, Poker TV can be found on Sky Sports as well as The Poker Channel and Pokerzone, two free-to-air channels that were created during the big poker boom in the mid-2000s.
Poker After Dark
Poker After Dark offers viewers a look into the evolution of a single poker table over the course of a week and has minimal commentary so that spectators can hear and assess table talk between the players. One of the most popular programs in Poker TV since its inception in 2007, Poker After Dark is a unique show that has had seven seasons as of mid-2011.
Late Night Poker
This show, originally broadcast in the UK, is one of the best known Poker TV programs, in part because they were responsible for the introduction of the special cameras that revolutionized the Poker TV world. While the show was originally created between 1999 and 2002, it lead to the creation of several other programs, including Late Night Poker Ace, Late Night Poker Masters, and Celebrity Poker Club.
Million Dollar Cash Game
This show is touted as being “Europe’s biggest ever televised cash game,” with a $100,000 minimum buy-in and no maximum amount that players can put down. Sponsored by Full Tilt Poker (who also sponsors Poker After Dark), Million Dollar Cash Game broke records and put itself on the Poker TV map in 2009 when it had a pot of over 1.1 million dollars– the largest in television history at the time.
High Stakes Poker
Like Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker is designed to follow a single game, rather than a tournament. Cash games followed by High Stakes Poker have buy-ins that range from $100,000 to $500,000 dollars, with some players opting to buy-in for a hefty million dollars. Like in other cash games, the players play for real money, and if they lose the amount that they’ve bought in for (or bought back in for), their cash is gone, making for some very intense action.
Poker TV has seen the creation of a great many other excellent poker shows, such as Poker Royale, Celebrity Poker Showdown, and Ultimate Poker Challenge, all of which air in the United States, La Notte del Poker and Pokermania, both native to Italy, and Poker Million, and Celebrity Poker Club, both created by United Kindom poker aficionados.