As part of a new four-year content distribution deal with Poker Central, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) will end its nine-year experiment with the November Nine.
Under the new broadcast arrangement, which will retain ESPN and its family of networks for WSOP coverage, the $10,000 buy-in WSOP Main Event will be aired nearly live as it progresses. Aside from the 30-minute delay mandated by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), viewers will now be able to follow Main Event action on a day-by-day basis.
Under the controversial November Nine format, introduced in 2008 by WSOP Commissioner at the time Jeffrey Pollack, the WSOP Main Event was paused when the nine-handed final table lineup was set.
Following a four-month delay, the final table reconvened at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada, to play out the endgame of poker's most prestigious tournament.
The November Nine concept was pioneered as a way to build anticipation for the WSOP Main Event final table, allowing fans to learn more about the players and their stories before tuning in to watch the conclusion.
During the intervening four-month period, most November Nine members sought coaching from high-profile pros, including Phil Hellmuth and Shaun Deeb, a fact that prompted many veteran players and fans alike to question the delay's impact on the tournament's integrity.
The new coverage model supervised by Poker Central will span 40 hours of Main Event action, plus 130 hours of original programming produced by Poker Central for its digital distribution channels.
Last year's November Nine saw Las Vegas local and baccarat enthusiast Qui Nguyen claim poker's World Championship. Employing a volatile and unpredictable playing style, Nguyen stymied his Main Event competition, including decorated pros Cliff Josephy, Gordon Vayo and Griffin Benger, to earn the $8,005,310 first-prize payout.
This summer, the Main Event will kick off on July 8 for Day 1A, which will be broadcast with a 30-minute delay on ESPN-2, with the final table lineup set on July 17. From there, the players will take just a two-day reprieve from the action, before returning to the Rio to play out the three-day final between July 20 and July 22.