Poker News

The World Poker Tour (WPT) and Fox Sports Net (FSN) announced Monday that they will continue their broadcast and promotional relationship, settling on an agreement that will stretch until 2013. Seasons 9, 10, and 11 of the highly popular WPT broadcasts will feature prime time national premiere airtimes of 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM on Sunday nights, as well as multiple repeat airings throughout the week on FSN.

WPT’s Season 9 will begin airing in January 2011 and kick off with Bellagio Cup IX. Several changes and enhancements will be made to the broadcast, including new anchor Kimberly Lansing; a new tour stop at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida; and the introduction of the beautiful Royal Flush Girls, who will serve as on-air fixtures during every show. Season 9 will also debut a brash, yet-to-be-named new analyst who will host a recurring segment called “The Raw Deal.” The WPT held auditions for the new position during the WPT Legends of Poker tournament on August 19 at the Bicycle Casino.

“This season promises to be unlike any previous incarnations of the WPT,” said Steve Heller, CEO of WPT. “The shows will be faster-paced and edgier, featuring the biggest names in poker mixing it up with more up-and-coming stars, pre-final table action, and, as always, poker’s greatest and most recognizable play-by-play commentary team of Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten.”

Sexton and Van Patten return for their ninth season in the WPT broadcast booth and are excited about adding “The Raw Deal” host to the team. “We’re looking for sort of a Simon Cowell kind of character that’s not afraid to bring down even a Phil Ivey, a Phil Hellmuth, a Daniel Negreanu, if he feels like they made a bonehead play,” Sexton said to Poker News Daily’s Sean Gibson. “They need to have poker experience and knowledge to be capable of critiquing an excellent, superb poker player.”

FSN is composed of 16 regional television stations that reach over 80 million homes throughout the United States. The network acquired the rights to Season 7 of the WPT after GSN declined to pick up its option following Season 6. The first five WPT seasons aired on The Travel Channel.

“As a leader in sports programming, FSN has been a great champion of the WPT and we are thrilled to make this long-term commitment as we celebrate a new day for the WPT,” said WPT President Adam Pliska. “The better airtimes, improved promotion, and the increased number of repeat episodes promise to be a boon for fans and the perfect showcase for the exciting changes coming to the WPT starting in Season 9.”

Season 9 saw the first-ever WPT stop in London get underway Monday with a surprisingly low turnout as only 72 players entered Day 1a of the £5,300 buy-in event. Thirty-six players made it through the day, including Full Tilt Pros Phil Ivey, Praz Bansi, Huck Seed, and chip leader Erik Seidel. The tournament wraps up with the final table on Saturday.

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest news on the World Poker Tour.

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