The Weekly Round-up – 26 April 2021:

The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; WSOP Leaves ESPN For CBS; PokerGO Unveils 2021 Tour and New Ranking System; Popular Poker Streamer Powers To Second SCOOP Title


Following the announcement at the start of April where the World Series of Poker declared its intention to return to the live arena in 2021, there have been some interesting new developments.

The full schedule will not be announced until summer. However, there is a significant change to where fans will be able to watch televised coverage. For the last 19 years, the world’s longest-running poker series has been broadcast by ESPN. The dulcet tones of presenters Norman Chad and Lon McEachern have become almost as iconic as the tournament itself. However, that may no longer be the case moving forwards.

On April 20 the WSOP announced a new multi-year rights agreement with CBS Sports via Twitter as part of its 2021 plans.

A New Beginning In An Old Home

Beginning in 2021, CBS Sports Network will be the exclusive domestic home of the WSOP, featuring fifteen hours of “Main Event” coverage and 36 hours of 18 additional “Gold Bracelet” events, easily marking a new high for the historic poker festival.

CBS Sports and the WSOP rekindle a past partnership with this deal.  It was CBS Sports who first broadcast poker in the U.S. CBS showcased the WSOP “Main Event” on its CBS SPORTS SPECTACULAR program throughout the mid-1970s

“CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports,” said Ty Stewart, WSOP Executive Director. “We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”

“Following our past success with Poker Central, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest-profile and richest event in competitive tournament Poker featuring the best players in the world,” said Dan Weinberg, Executive Vice President of Programming, CBS Sports. “This deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS Sports brand.”  

Additional coverage details will be announced in the coming months with the release of the full WSOP schedule, as well as coverage across other Viacom CBS platforms, including Paramount +.

Relaxed Restrictions

While there is still a long way to go between now and September, the iconic tournament series also has the potential to be a relatively ‘normal’ affair.

Clark County announced plans to ease covid restrictions on 20 April, allowing businesses to return to 80% capacity starting in early May. The Clark County Commission also promised a return to full capacity once at least 60% of residents are vaccinated.

Nightclubs and buffets look set to reopen, while restaurants can increase in capacity from 6 to 12 patrons per table. While that bodes well for Las Vegas residents and the WSOP, overseas visitors might still be subject to travel restrictions, with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test very likely to be on the cards.

PokerGO Unveils 2021 Tour and New Ranking System

The Poker GO Tour starts with the 2021 US Poker Open on 3 June

Poker streaming service PokerGO has been building up a head of steam in 2021 with their live-streamed High Stakes Duel format proving extremely popular. With live poker effectively on hold for the last 15 months, now things are starting to ease off they have upped the ante and announced the launch of “The PokerGO Tour.”

Boasting a slew of high-stakes events, “The PokerGO Tour” will comprise 150 tournaments spanning the globe. With tens of millions of dollars at stake and buy-ins starting at $10,000, the tour kicks off with the 2021 US Poker Open. Taking place at the PokerGO Studio on the Las Vegas Strip, the tournament will run June 3-14.

In addition to the tour, PokerGO announced a new ranking system “which will separate and celebrate the most elite professional poker players in a similar fashion to the ranking systems of the world’s most renowned professional sports.”

With an additional $175,000 in prizes announced as part of a Player of the Year ranking system, players earn points for every in-the-money finish at each PokerGO Tour event. The top performer will be presented the POY Award and a cash prize of $100,000. Cash prizes of $50,000 and $25,000 will also be awarded to the 2nd and 3rd place players, respectively. 

“The PokerGO Tour events will include the world’s most challenging high stakes events in the world, bringing poker front and center in the world of sports in a way that has never been done before,” said PokerGO President Mori Eskandani in their latest press release.

PokerGo Tour Highlights

  • PokerGO® Cup  a brand new major featuring eight events including a $100,000 NLH Main Event. Running July 1-10, with a break in play on 4 July.
  • PokerGO® Heads-Up Championship – another new major slated for 12 July. Boasting a $3.2M prize pool, 32 poker professionals will battle in a bracket-style format.
  • Poker Masters – a twelve-event tournament series running September 13-24. Expect the world’s best all-around players to battle it out for a sizable prize pool and a coveted purple jacket.
  • Super High Roller Bowl (SHRB) – a 3-day tournament with a $300K buy-in. Starting on 26 September, the world’s top players will compete for millions of dollars as well as the SHRB ring.

Visit the Poker Central website for a full breakdown of the schedule and PokerGO Tour scoring system.

Popular Poker Streamer Powers To Second SCOOP Title

Poker is all about timing. PokerStars Team Online member and popular poker Twitch streamer Fintan “EasyWithAces” Hand proved this with his second Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) title, taking down the $5,200 NLHE Progressive Knockout High Roller just seconds before suffering a power outage.

Hand, who was one of the first players to live stream poker on Twitch, had close to 15,000 followers watching him close in on the title. However, a power outage at his apartment building in Malta crashed the stream, leaving fans in the dark as to the result.

The $232,156 top prize – including $136,719 in bounties – is the Irish players’ largest-ever career cash. Hand had no idea how much he had even won until he posted his predicament on Twitter:

Hand posted a link to his live Twitch stream via Twitter, where you can watch all the action as it happened, including the blackout:

The PokerStars stream saw a noticeable uptick in viewers after Hand posted on Twitter, with the Irishman dropping in after fixing his power issues. You can watch the full final table coverage via the official PokerStars YouTube page.

Signed by PokerStars back in 2017 after final tabling the Irish Open, Hand has proved popular on the Twitch platform.

Hand’s reputation grew following his first SCOOP win back in 2020 where he took down the $1,050 Afternoon Deep Stack. Watched by over 20,000 viewers, Hand defeated a 408-strong field, defeating Antoine Saout heads-up for a $73,653 payday.

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