At 10 p.m. PT tonight, Peter Eastgate and Ivan Demidov return to the Rio to finish what they started this summer. By early morning tomorrow, maybe even by midnight tonight, one will be the World Series of Poker main event champion (and will pocket the $9.1 million that comes with the bracelet). The other will "only" be $5.8 million richer.
And then, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, the world gets to see how it all played out during ESPN’s "semi-live" broadcast of the final table, an episode that ESPN producers are now piecing together from the footage filmed all day yesterday and the footage that will be filmed tonight.
At 9 p.m. ET, the 2008 broadcast of the WSOP will conclude with the two-hour airing of the final table. Besides making this year’s WSOP main event the longest poker tournament in history, it also was a gamble both ESPN and Harrah’s were willing to make after seeing TV ratings of the WSOP decline last year.
Nielsen broadcast ratings of all WSOP 30 episodes are up an average of 6 percent this year, with a 10-percent increase in viewers of this year’s main event, according to George McNeilly, the senior director of communications for ESPN.
Ratings peaked Oct. 28, when the episode that showed which players would be part of the original “November Nine” aired. That night, the WSOP earned a Nielsen rating of 1.59. That’s a 44-percent increase in households compared to any episode last year.
The week before, the episode in which the final 79 players were whittled down to 27, more people tuned in than they did to watch Jerry Yang win the main event in 2007. The Oct. 21 episode earned a 1.44 Nielsen rating, while last year’s final table earned a 1.38 rating.
One Nielsen point translates to a little more than 1.4 million households.
Tonight, the final two players will play until one of them has all of the chips in the house. At least a million and a half households (with a possibility for many more) will have a TV tuned to the broadcast to find out who is this year’s world champion.
Or, if you can’t wait, point your browser at the WSOP live updates page to see how all of the action played out yesterday. The tournament team will be at the Rio tonight, as well.
But don’t click unless you want to find out who already has been eliminated. Here’s one small spoiler, Kelly Kim, the table’s short stack coming in, didn’t perform a miraculous comeback. He wasn’t the first of the final nine to be sent home either, though.
Stephen Murray contributed to this report.