Everyone likes to credit Chris Moneymaker for the poker boom of 2004 and beyond, but few credit ESPN for even showing the event on TV.
It was a big stretch for them to televise poker back then — it was a game that had little to no audience. But right after the boom, what followed were great telecasts of seven-card stud and Omaha hi-lo events. We met old poker players and new ones. Gentleman Joe Awada became a household name.
But somewhere along the lines, it became more about ratings, and ESPN has been on the lookout for the next poker boom, and left its poker coverage just to the main event — and a random final table here and there.
Even Bluff Magazine, which televised a few final tables last year, has given up on the series. As far as I know, ESPN will televise just two final tables this year over the Internet.
What we are missing are the great final tables the WSOP has had so far in 2010.
A few days ago, I watch the best final table in the past few years — the last nine of Event No. 17 $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em.
It’s a tournament that usually draws the best no-limit players in the world because of its higher buy-in. You’d be hard-pressed to find a donkey or two in this one.
Consequently, the final table was stacked with talented young players — players that will likely be the stars of poker in 5-10 years, while the older guys fade out.
There was David “Raptor” Benefield, who once lived with durrrr before quitting poker in 2009 to pursue other interests. Now he’s back and its seems committed to the game again. There was Amit Makhija, a sick online MTTer who has carried his skills over to live poker and there was Jeff “yellowsub86″ WIlliams, who won the 2006 EPT Grand Final – Monte Carlo at age 19.
It was a murderers row of awesome, aggressive players, and I rarely saw flops because of the four and five-betting going on. In the end, Jason DeWitt beat young british pro Sam Trickett for the bracelet.
It was a final table full of great poker and it’s a shame only those in attendance got to see it. So come on ESPN, we need these final tables. After all what would bestpokermoments.com be without videos?