After nearly two decades, the World Series of Poker is returning to CBS. The WSOP made its first television debut on the CBS network 50 years ago in 1970. Johnny Moss won the first televised WSOP in history at the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas.
Benny Binion was the brainchild behind the WSOP and the owner of the Horseshoe Casino as it hosted the first WSOP. Back then, there were only 70 poker tables in the whole state of Nevada. In fact, the Horseshoe didn’t even have a poker room when it first started years ago.
The first WSOP was held in an alcove no bigger than a standard hotel room, where 30 or so gamblers had themselves around a few poker tables. Little did they know at the time that they were becoming part of poker history.
The tournament sure has grown since then. Now the WSOP consists of 101 events hosting thousands of players from around the world.
Beginning of an Old Friendship
Recently, CBS announced that it had reached a multi-year deal with PokerGo and executives at WSOP TV. CBS Sports Network will have exclusive domestic television rights to the WSOP.
CBS Sports Network will feature 15 hours of Main Event coverage and 36 hours of additional gold bracelet events, which no doubt will have a profound effect on the historical poker festival.
WSOP moved to ESPN back in 1988, where it stayed for 10 years. The Discovery Channel picked it up briefly, and after three years, the WSOP found itself back on the ESPN Network.
Here is what Ty Stewart, the executive director of WSOP, had to say about the move: “CBS Sports has long been a pioneer in covering a broad range of championship sports. We couldn’t be more excited to see increased television coverage of the WSOP in the coming years and benefit from their growing media platforms.”
Nearly two years ago, PokerGo and CBS joined forces to live stream gold bracelet events in the 50th annual WSOP. As a result, their relationship led to this merger.
“Following our past success with PokerGo, we are excited to expand our relationship with the highest profiting and riches event and competitive tournament poker featuring the best players in the world. The deal fits perfectly in our strategy to combine best-in-class events with our CBS sports brand,” said Dan Weinberg, CBS Sports executive VP of programming.
CBS Sports plans to kick things off with the WSOP’s 2021 main event, which is slated to take place in Las Vegas this coming September through November. That is, of course, if COVID-19 permits.
It seems like an end of an era for the WSOP. Although it remains to be seen if the switch was beneficial for the WSOP in the long run, since CBS Sports does not have the same credentials as ESPN, and CBS Sports doesn’t carry the same ratings or audience as ESPN.
In the final analysis, I think the WSOP will be just fine. Poker is the world’s most popular card game and gaining new fans every day.
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