Poker viewing changes, so WSOP to conclude in July

World Series of Poker officials announced a format change last week. The era of playing down to the final nine in July, then waiting until November to complete the tournament, is over.

The change comes partially because of changing media culture, which provides followers with instantaneous coverage. The live-to-tape shows used to have a continuing storyline feel similar to live-to-tape Olympics telecasts. But with livestreaming and other immediate coverage, poker fans have begun to watch the action live.

“We used to cover it like The Bachelor,” tournament spokesman Seth Palansky said. “They go and do all the dating, weaved in backstories and personalities, and essentially do their grand finale live. But where we are today in the world, it’s kind of hard to keep that information from leaking out.”

This year, the main event kicks off July 8 in Las Vegas and play down to a final table on July 17. The final nine players will take a two-day break and return to play July 20.

ESPN carry an estimated 40 hours of almost-live coverage (regulations require a 30-minute delay) and will also air more than 100 hours of original packaged show every year. Any coverage not aired by ESPN will be streamed exclusively through Poker Central’s digital channels.

For those really passionate, you know to go to WSOP.com. But it’d be nice if I scored a follow, too. Twitter @NickSortal