|ESPN today announced ESPN Poker Club, a multi-faceted poker initiative that will reach across many divisions of the Worldwide Leader In Sports, including ESPN.com, ESPN Wireless, ESPN Books and ESPN Enterprises, the company’s brand extension and new business development arm. The initiative kicks off today with the new ESPN Poker Club on ESPN.com, which includes the site’s new free online poker game. The first 11 weeks of play on ESPN.com will be exclusively devoted to the Degree® All-In Poker Challenge, with the tournament winner earning a seat in the Harrah’s 2005 World Series of Poker courtesy of Degree®. In coming months the initiative will also launch a wireless poker game; a poker-related book from ESPN Books by syndicated poker columnist Steve Rosenbloom; DVD’s of the 2004 World Series of Poker and the ESPN Original Entertainment series TILT; and a line of high-end poker-related consumer products. |
ESPN Poker Club On ESPN.com
Beginning today, poker fans will find an entire section of ESPN.com dedicated to the game they love – including a free online poker game for users over the age of 18. Created by game developer Micropower, the game allows poker aficionados of every skill level to choose from six different games: Texas Hold’Em, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Hi/Lo, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo and 5 Card Stud. After an initial software download, ESPN.com users can compete against other ESPN Poker Club players at online poker tables in single- and multi-table tournaments.
In addition, ESPN Poker Club on ESPN.com will feature a robust collection of editorial content including “How To Play” information on each of the games offered, tips for playing winning poker, answers to frequently asked poker questions, and exclusive columns from ESPN’s “Jackpot” Jay Lovinger, poker guru Phil Gordon and more.
The Degree® All-In Poker Challenge
The 11-week Degree® All-In Poker Challenge on ESPN.com is a series of weekly qualifying tournaments that lead to a final 500-player tournament in May, with the winner earning a seat in the Harrah’s 2005 World Series of Poker courtesy of Degree®. The Degree® All-In Poker Challenge is the only completely free way online to earn a seat in the Harrah’s 2005 World Series of Poker.
Each Sunday at 2 p.m. ET for 10 weeks, ESPN.com will hold a Sunday Qualifying Tournament for the Degree® All-In Poker Challenge that will include all players that qualified in the week prior. The top 50 players each Sunday will earn a seat in the Finals tournament beginning May 15 at 2 p.m. ET. The winner of the Finals tournament will earn the seat in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas in June.
Each week, players will have four ways to earn a spot into the weekly Sunday Qualifying tournament:
·Play 750 hands during the week from any combination of the games offered;
·Win five single-table tournaments (10 players, available at any time)
·Win one multi-table tournament (30 players, start every 20 minutes)
·Finish high enough in the rankings of a Big Play tournament (one per day, 8 p.m. ET )*
* For every 40 players, one top-ranked player qualifies. Example: if 200 people play in the tournament, the top five players qualify. If there are 320 players, the top eight players qualify.
In order to play in the Degree® All-In Poker Challenge fans must be 21 years old, download the ESPN.com online poker game and register a player profile. All players will begin with 1000 points worth of chips, and will be eligible to get more chips twice each day.
ESPN Wireless: ESPN Poker Hold’em Tournament™
Also under the ESPN Poker Club brand, ESPN Wireless will launch ESPN Poker Hold’em Tournament™ in late March. The single-player wireless game will give players an opportunity to play against up to nine computer opponents in a no-limit Hold’Em tournament. Players will not play for real money and will be able to choose from a number of different characters, with each computer opponent having their own unique and consistent style of play, leaving it up to the player to learn to “read” their opponents. The game will be available via several major mobile service providers between its March launch and early summer.
ESPN Poker Club Consumer Products
In late Spring, ESPN Enterprises will release premium quality ESPN Poker Club consumer products. ESPN, in conjunction with International Trading Inc., will unveil poker chip sets, accessories, tables and tabletops that feature the ESPN Poker Club logo. ESPN will showcase two different product lines of poker chip sets: the Championship Edition, featuring 11.5 gram casino-style chips and the Professional Edition, which features eight-gram chips. ESPN Poker Club consumer products will be available at major retail outlets and specialty stores nationwide and via ESPN Shop (www.espnshop.com).
ESPN Books: The Best Hand I Ever Played
In September, ESPN Poker Club and ESPN Books will release The Best Hand I Ever Played: 52 Winning Poker Lessons From The World’s Greatest Players, the first book from longtime sports writer and popular syndicated poker columnist Steve Rosenbloom. The 272-page book will be a collection of interviews with some of the world’s top poker players, in which they recount the greatest poker hand of their career. The book will appeal to poker players of all skill levels by combining dramatic story-telling and larger-than-life characters with the expert advice of the best instructional books. The heavily illustrated book will feature easy-to-follow instruction as well as an extensive poker glossary. Among the players interviewed are Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim, Annie Duke and Gordon.
TILT and 2004 World Series Of Poker DVD’s
As part of ESPN Poker Club, ESPN Enterprises and Buena Vista Home Entertainment will release the DVD set of the ESPN Original Entertainment series TILT; ESPN will work with DVD Marketing to release the network’s telecasts of the 2004 World Series of Poker in June.
TILT, set at the fictitious World Poker Championships in Las Vegas, explores the drama of high-stakes gambling, as well as the action away from the table where greed and revenge fuel conflict, power plays and deal making. Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who wrote Rounders, Knockaround Guys and Runaway Jury, wrote and executive produced for the series. The three-disk DVD set features nine episodes and several bonus segments, including a special behind-the-scenes preview show, profiles on poker legends from the ’98 World Series of Poker, outtakes and deleted scenes, actor auditions and much more.
ESPN’s telecasts of the 2004 World Series of Poker featured 22 cameras and a variety of new production techniques and technology, allowing ESPN viewers to experience the event from above, around and inside the table through the use of “pocket cams” in the table’s rail; a “rabbit cam” showing viewers the card that would have been dealt next; “robo cams” and lipstick cameras above the table; and a lipstick visor cam on the dealer’s head. The multi-disk set chronicles amateur player Greg Raymer’s ascent to the 2004 World Series of Poker title and poker stardom, and will include the final 10 shows. The DVD collection is packed with bonus features, such as alternate versions of the final table with audio commentary by Raymer, a three-minute profile on Raymer, and interviews with other poker stars.
Poker On ESPN TV
In addition to ESPN Poker Club, ESPN’s television networks will bring poker fans 38 original hours of professional poker beginning with the U.S. Poker Championships on March 24 and 26 on ESPN (six hours total), and continuing with 32 hours of exclusive coverage of the 2005 Harrah’s World Series of Poker from July through November on ESPN and ESPN2.