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TV Dreams

by Jesse May |  Published: Apr 06, 2005


Television, television, television. By the time this edition of Card Player Europe hits the stands, The Poker Channel will have made its European launch, promising 24 hours of poker programming on UK Sky Digital 265. In addition to Ab Cruncher and Flat Thighs infomercial daytime fare, there will also be a slate of totally new poker programs. These will be "outside the box" poker shows, and I'm self-promotion proud to have been involved in some of the shows having their world premieres on the channel during March and April. If anything, these "farthing and a shoestring" programs will hope to prove that you don't need a big budget to make good poker television, just new ideas and some support from the poker community.

Up Close offers an opportunity to get to know the top names in poker on a more in-depth basis, with a 30-minute format that takes one poker player per week for an intense interview. The first season slates top European names like John Duthie and Joe Beevers, in addition to the World Series of Poker defending champion and American Greg Raymer. My favorite tidbit that came out of this first series is that each interview subject made mention, completely unbidden, of one person who all agree is head and shoulders above the rest of the world when it comes to tournament poker. Who do the best think the best is? One Daniel Negreanu.

Popular player, journalist, and poker personality Vicky Coren headlines a show called Bar Beat, which is pitched somewhere between a political talk show and Jerry Springer, and more toward the latter. The beer and champagne were flowing madly as players sat down at the Gutshot Club in London to debate poker issues of the day, and the only question left outstanding was just how many blue blazers David Young owns. Poker Godfather is the show that takes a BBC makeover show to an online tournament, with some of the most successful Internet pros making over a stranger's tournament game and taking over his house in the process.

Another poker television show making its debut also promises high hopes. Barny's Home Games, it's called, features The Hendon Mob's own Barny Boatman as host and presenter. The premise is that Barny, newly festooned in a white suit and Cadillac van, sits in on home games all over the UK. Home poker games are known for strange variations, crazy games like Follow the Queen and Shifting Sands with red nines and black sixes wild. During each episode, Barny will analyze a different "crazy" game with a seriousness and depth usually only given to no-limit Texas hold'em. I've played in a home game with Barny, during a road trip with the boys in Cardiff, and he's exactly the kind of guy everyone would want in his own home game – a big smile on his face and a wallet to match, playing his draws like the Queen's crown jewels.

But new poker television is springing up all over. William Hill TV on Sky Channel 425 is entering the mix with a weekly poker magazine show called Poker 425, hosted by Johnny Gould and Tony Kendall. The duo should make a good team. Johnny not only is an experienced presenter and the armchair of American baseball on UK Channel 5, but he is also a keen poker player. And Tony "Tikay" Kendall could be the UK's poker face of the future, having already picked up quite a following with his tournament reporting online.

I'm currently on my way to Monte Carlo, to the biggest open poker event on the European calendar. It costs

10,000 to buy in, and it's easy to remember a day when that alone would have made the EPT Grand Final the most expensive tournament in the world. All the big boys in European poker will be there, and with a slow structure and quality field, it's likely to be a barnburner. I know that if I stay home, it'll soon be on TV, but frankly, I just can't wait. ´