Category Archives: Site News

Poker On TV: Origins & Memorable Moments

In the United States, there are 103 dedicated sports channels, covering everything from Gridiron to English soccer. Flick through the TV stations at any given time and you are almost guaranteed to come across a live sporting event, no matter how low key it may be.

Action, tactics, excitement, and personal narrative are what draw in audiences in their hundreds of thousands to watch live sports. When the commentator describes the personal journey that Bill Brown has been on to get to the world shin-kicking finals, it makes you want to keep watching.

These stories, moments of drama and tales of triumph over adversity aren’t just unique to the sport. They are all, in fact, vital components of poker, a game that is currently experiencing huge growth in viewing figures.

In this article, we take a look at the growth of poker on television and take a look at some of the best moments broadcast on TV to show you why you should be watching it.
 
 


 
A look at how WSOP poker events were covered by CBS in the 1970s

 
 
Cards On TV: When Did It Start?

Poker is gambling and gambling is seedy. That was the view of millions of people in the mid-twentieth century. It’s no wonder then that poker wasn’t as popular back in the 1950s and 1960s as it is now.

However, towards the end of the swinging sixties, the game began to grow in popularity with a younger, more diverse crowd of players. That shift prompted TV network CBS to broadcast a one-hour highlight show of the World Series of Poker in the early 1970s.

Whilst the initial shows may have been low on critical analysis and light on the discussion concerning poker strategy, it was wildly entertaining. The show’s producers focused more on the personal stories of the players and how this might impact their psychology around the poker table. There was plenty of discussion surrounding their interactions with one another around the table than the actual card play.

The coverage went down well with a national audience and positive viewing figures persuaded network chiefs to persist with their coverage into the next decade.
 
 


 
British TV show Late Night Poker was the first to pioneer the under-table camera which revolutionised future poker coverage

 
 
Cards On TV: The Evolution

Coverage of the World Series of Poker remained largely the same for 20 years after it was first broadcast. That was until a British TV show called Late Night Poker pioneered an under-table camera that allowed viewers to see the cards of every player at the table.

This method of filming was soon used by ESPN, who had bought the rights to WSOP highlights from CBS midway through the 1980s. This small but crucial technical alteration revolutionised the way that poker was covered on TV.

Pundits and commentators began to focus more on the tactical style of players, explaining the permutations of hands to TV viewers. The under-table camera also allowed the personality of individual players to shine through to the audience.

Bluffs and tells were now more obvious to viewers, which allowed players to develop their own brand and alter-egos, similar to how wrestlers do in WWE. Since then, the focus of poker television coverage has been on the personal drama of the players.

Huge personalities have emerged from the world of poker, and now viewers around the world tune in to watch their favourite card shark, knowing their backstory, motivations and playing styles.

This dramatisation has helped to create some incredibly memorable TV moments, just like…
 
 
Accountant To Superstar

In 2003 an accountant from Atlanta qualified for the WSOP by winning an online poker tournament and single-handedly boosted the popularity of the game across the globe. Up until playing in the WSOP, Chris Moneymaker had almost exclusively competed online, which, in 2003, was a lot rarer than it is today.

At the time, many professional players and commentators looked down their noses at online poker. It was believed that the virtual model of the game was so different from the real-life alternative, that no-one from the online poker world could succeed in an actual tournament.

Chris Moneymaker didn’t just prove the critics wrong in winning the WSOP, he completely destroyed their argument in the manner of his victory. With all the cards on the table and absolutely nothing to show for it, Moneymaker went all-in against his opponent Sammy Farha.

Despite having a winning pair of nines, Farha buckled under the pressure and folded, allowing Moneymaker to win the WSOP. That final hand victory was one in the eye for critics of online poker, and according to commentator Norman Chadd, ‘the bluff of the century’.
 
 
The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!

In 1999 Johnny Chan was looking to make it an unprecedented three WSOP Main Event victories in a row. Back then Chan was one of the biggest names in world poker, with a daredevil playing style that tantalized TV audiences and left commentators reaching for ever-higher octaves of excitement.

Perhaps Chan’s own-hype had got to him in this final hand though, as he went all-in against young challenger Phil Hellmuth, holding just A♠7♠ against Hellmuth’s 9♠9♣. Such was Chan’s aura at that time, that audiences and commentators alike expected the cards to fall in his favour.

The K♣K♦10♥ flop gave Chan some potential outs, but neither the Q♠ turn nor 6♠ river helped rescue the hand for Chan and deliver a third-consecutive win.

It was the start of a wonderful career for Phil Hellmuth, who at the time of writing has combined live tournament winnings of over $22 million. Beating Johnny Chan, however, back in 1999 will remain one of the proudest moments of Hellmuth’s career.

It was all captured live on television too, helping to memorialise it in history as one of the greatest moments in WSOP poker.

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The Direction of Ocean’s Eleven: Is TV Next?

It’s hard to argue that the remake of the 1960 original Ocean’s 11 was not a hit. The cast, direction, screenplay, everything worked because, even as a revival, Ocean’s Eleven was fresh. The sequels were bound to have a hard time hitting the mark. Ocean’s 8 performed well domestically but grossed the worst in the series in terms of global revenue, its $297,718,711 a far cry from the first movie’s $450,717,150. A comparison of all four titles suggests audiences are less easy to impress now. Producers are, of course, not done with Ocean and his crews. The current surge in TV show reboots makes fans of this particular franchise keen on the idea of it being adapted for the small screen. Looking at the industry’s landscape, would an Ocean’s Eleven TV series likely be a gem or a flop?

TV Today

With Netflix and Amazon Prime changing the game, TV is not what it used to be. More productions and greater accessibility have created a discerning audience with broad tastes. Getting it right is a challenge, but the fact that Syfy’s 12 Monkeys succeeded in pleasing fans of the original 1995 title for four strong seasons means that it’s not impossible. Good judgment in all aspects of concept and direction – and a decent budget, too – can result in a production that resonates with viewers and sets the next new standard in TV series production.

Movies-turned-TV shows have existed for decades. Among the 20 titles listed on Rolling Stones is Serpico, an extension of Al Pacino’s 1973 movie, except with David Birney as the titular character. Its theme is the closest relatable to an Ocean’s Eleven adaptation, but it also demonstrates how the market for such stories has strengthened over time, considering the popularity of crime dramas now. If Ocean follows his trademark ingenuity and innovation onto the small screen, an audience will definitely be there to greet him.

After all, bold heists and mobsters are just as entertaining to binge watch. The growing Now You See Me franchise comes to mind, as well as several must-watch mafia shows of the past, like The Sopranos (1999-2007) and Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014). If Martin Scorsese, who was heavily involved in Boardwalk Empire, has faith in TV’s ability and willingness to host quality productions, then there are high hopes for an ambitious project like Ocean’s Eleven.

How Ocean Fits

Whether in a book or the small or silver screen, there’s a recipe for creating a heist scenario that’s engaging and memorable. Out of the eight key elements explained by LitReactor, three would benefit the most from a series format. Firstly, characters, good and bad, need time to reveal themselves – their lives and reasons for either turning to crime or building an empire of casinos. They breathe life into a story. The more likeable and interesting they are, the more immersive the series. This also applies to their relationships, thinking back to how Danny Ocean meets and forms a friendship with Linus, Matt Damon’s character. A TV show is a great way of fleshing out the personalities and dynamics that could affect the heist.

The basic part of a story like this is the plan itself. It has to be intricate, unpredictable, and dangerous. If the Breaking the Bank at Caligula’s mission in GTA: San Andreas seems complex, a fictional robbery on TV needs to be even more so to be realistic. Breaking down the scheme, its twists and hiccups, over a number of episodes instead of an hour and a half would allow it all to sink in better. A typical problem with heist movies is the pace – too fast to keep up. While this does motivate some viewers to watch it all over again, a production’s creators taking the time to ease their audience into the plot is always appreciated. People also become more mentally and emotionally involved.

Finally, as already pointed out, plausibility is important. Apart from the plot, the story’s situations and settings need to be believable. Since the Ocean’s series largely takes place in casinos, for example, a TV adaptation could have viewers look deeper into these places and what they mean to the story’s structure and concepts. Its on-screen representation lies, not just in the terminology, but the crowd and suspense, the joys and lights. A production with looser time boundaries is an opportunity to build detail and atmosphere that the movie never had. As viewers, and even participants in casino games, films and online experiences have allowed us to enjoy the casino from the comfort of our home. With the use of live HD video streaming for games such as Betway roulette, fans of casino games can find greater immersion than ever before. With this in mind, having a TV series that can flesh out these experiences can similarly provide viewers with the thrills of playing at a real-life casino.

If this dream is ever realized, though, it would have to be exceptional to compete with other shows, as originality and intrigue increasingly become common ingredients among filmmakers. Let’s not forget how Marvel dropped all its top earners, including Daredevil, with season 3 bringing the hero’s tormented story to a dramatic close. But Ocean’s Eleven has many features that would shine on the small screen. Whoever accepts the challenge is unlikely to take them lightly.

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Newsletter & News Poster Help Needed!

Hi all! I have a couple of things I need help with… First up is someone who knows what they’re doing with coding and what not who can help me figure out how best to put out a newsletter. Right now, I use accordions to code the weekly & daily schedules. But as far as I know, that won’t work on email newsletters. My husband could help me figure it out, but he’s busy with his own work, so I’d like to find someone else who can help me out if they have time.

Second, I would like to start posting TV news, but I just simply don’t have the time to do it myself. What I’d like is someone who can keep an eye out during the day to different sites (such as TVLine, TV Fanatic, etc) and write up a post once a night with a short recap and a link to each news item. It would be written up in whatever is your choice (direct in email, Word or the like, Notepad/Wordpad, etc) and sent to me, and then I would clean it up, format it, and post it under your name. This is an unpaid position, but you would of course have my gratitude. 😉

If you are interested in either of the above things, please shoot me an email using the form below. And thank you!

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We Need Your Opinions Again! Newsletter… Yes or No?

I’ve been thinking of starting up a site newsletter, but since it’ll be a lot of work (worth it if wanted, though!), I figured I’d ask and see if that was something you guys would be interested in.

Like last time, if you vote and comment, letting me know your thoughts, I’ll add your name to a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! This will end next Sunday, July 21st.
 
 

Would you be interested in a daily or weekly newsletter? If so, what would you like to see in it? Choose all that apply
17 votes · 32 answers
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Does the Game of Thrones Slot Game Do the TV Show Justice?

“A Song of Ice and Fire” by author George R. R. Martin had been hugely popular within fantasy circles for years, but when HBO adapted it and gave us Game of Thrones, the franchise soared to new levels, becoming perhaps the most popular television show in recent memory. The combination of nonstop danger, exposed flesh, superb acting, and mature storytelling turned the show into a modern classic. A franchise this popular was never going to stop there. We’ve seen countless adaptions to other mediums, such as a board game, several video games, and fitting right in with the show’s mature audiences, a slot game. But when it comes to that very slot game, did developer Microgaming get it right?
 
Game of Thrones Slots
 

Playing Game of Thrones slot

You can check out bestonlineslots.co.uk to start playing the Game of Thrones slot game. Once you do, you’ll hear the famous soundtrack, which, if you’re a fan of the show, will motivate you immediately. Then it’s on in the battle for the Iron Throne.

The 5-reel, 3-row slot offers you a choice of playing with either 243 ways to win or 15 pay lines. The former means that you only need to spin matching reels and not on fixed pay lines. The latter is self-explanatory.

Aesthetically, the slots have managed to capture the mood of the show perfectly. Expect dark and brooding as opposed to vibrant and colourful. After all, it’s a world in which epic battles are fought for the Westeros.

The standard playing card symbols (Jack, Queen, King, Ace) are here, along with shields depicting each house and their coat of arms. There’s also the Iron Throne symbol.

The slot will please fans of the novels and the show alike. You’ll notice a number of animated cut scenes from the show during the game, which helps to accent the drama. The impressive and detailed animation conjures up a range of emotions for the fight for leadership in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
 
 

Bonuses and features

The slot is full of in-game features, including the aforementioned clips of the show, so it leaves no want for entertainment.

Stacked Wild symbols: These take the form of the Game of Thrones logo and substitute for any other symbol, which, in turn, enable you to form more winning combinations. Further, they can be stacked on the reels, allowing them to cover all spaces. That’s where you’ll find the big wins.

Scatter symbols: These take the form of the “Iron Throne.” The symbol helps to pay out prizes, regardless of where they’re showing on the scream. They also trigger free spins, which you’ll read more about below.

Four Free Spins: Each of the four spins provides its own set of advantages, which can reward you with up to 9 free spins, along with a bonus multiplier of up to 5x. During this round, simply play and wait to find out your reward, with the additional prizes added to your balance once the round is over.
 
 

Game of Thrones mobile slot

For those of you who enjoy playing games on your mobile devices, you’ll be pleased to know that a mobile version of the Game of Thrones slot is available. All of the same bonus rounds and scenes from the show are here, along with the soundtrack.

Whether you choose 243 ways two win or 25 pay lines and no matter what size of screen you play it on, all of the excitement of the slot will be available to you. In fact, it’s even easier to play on small touch screen devices.
 
 

Conclusion

Game of Thrones is another success from the renowned developers Microgaming and indeed does justice to the TV show and brand. Certainly, the slot can be dark, dramatic, and serious but, after all, that falls in line with the brand. It’s a faithful adaptation of the show, perfectly recreating the atmosphere, and with numerous original bonus features included, you may find that you just can’t stop spinning those reels.

You don’t even need to have seen the serious to enjoy playing the game, but certainly, if you’re a fan, you’ll love this version.

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