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World Series of Poker Countdown 2006: "Big News, Big Deals, and a Big Head"
Wednesday, 14 June 2006

11 or 13 days Left Until the Big Show... Depending on Who's Counting.
Ever heard the phrase "running around like a chicken with it's head cut off?" Certainly you have. That pretty much sums up my state of mind right now as the World Series of Poker draws ever closer, now less than two weeks away.

Well, maybe not quite that frantic. Maybe that phrase describes the adrenaline that occasionally surges through me more than my outward appearance. Either way, you get the idea.

An interesting aside: Ever heard of "Mike the Headless Chicken?" It's amazing. Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado was sent out on a routine dispatching of one of the barnyard chickes for dinner one fateful night in 1945. However, bizarre circumstances ensued that left the chicken's brain stem almost completely intact, and the basic "chicken functions" (eating, pecking, being stupid, etc.) continued without a hitch. Long story short, Mike the Headless Chicken lived, sans-cranium, for a year and a half. Don't believe me? Check it out.

But, I digress.

Some interesting developments occurred at the end of last week, as Harrah's officially announced a few promotional deals that will secure the WSOP's presence within pop culture for years to come.

For one, ESPN's contract for televised coverage of the WSOP has been extended until the year 2010. What's more, for the very first time the final table of the WSOP will be broadcast LIVE on pay-per-view. I believe there has been an instance in the past where the WSOP was broadcast live in some other capacity than hand-for-hand online coverage or blogging, but this marks the first time it will be available on television as the event unfolds.

What will this coverage entail? The pay-per-view program, schedule to start on Thursday, August 10, will reportedly carry a price tag of $24.95. Your first reaction may be: "Wow! Not bad!" But hold on there, Hoss. Are we to expect the kind of coverage we see on the WPT, or even on ESPN's coverage of the WSOP? I doubt it. While the idea of seeing the final table live is most definitely enticing, I sincerely doubt we're going to be able to see what the players' hole cards are. The security risks involved do not have to be explained.

Anyone that's ever been to a live poker tournament or cash game knows that, while there are certainly periods of excitement, watching the event is a true test of one's patience. Blind stealing, fold-after-fold-after-fold, etc... there's a reason these are cut from the final broadcasts for television.

In an age of flashing lights, instant gratification, and a surplus of small, shiny objects, it will be interesting to see how ESPN plans to hold our interest.

The other big news? Milwaukee's Best Light has become the official beer of the World Series of Poker in a deal that Harrah's has called the largest of its kind to date. As part of the deal, Milwaukee's Best will have a strong promotional presence at WSOP events. In addition, they are also required to promote the WSOP year-round, not just during the event. This is most beneficial for Harrah's, as it ensures the WSOP brand's strength throughout the year. I'm curious to see the kinds of commercials this deal will produce.

And what of PokerPages' coverage of the WSOP this year? Well, at the moment I feel like a kid in highschool that knows a really juicy secret about one of his classmates but has promised not to tell. With a firm roll in planning everything this year, I can see everything falling into place and I can tell you: it's going to be grand.

Thanks to all for sticking with me.

Can you feel the excitement?

See you in Vegas!


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