This event, which is spun out of the WPT, is a big step forward in the relationship the players have with television productions. Prior to this the players put up the entry fees, paid the house percentage, gave tips to the dealers and other workers from their winnings, and then were told by television to not make final-table deals, not wear logos, not dress poorly, not to criticize others, and not to speak harshly while on camera…. And, by the way, hold it right there because we need to change the tape… we will be back with you in a few minutes…Some players have even had makeup administered and an arm reaching up inside their shirt to adjust a microphone as they tried to play a hand! Ah, yes, well some of the production assistants are not fully aware of the fact that a real competition for real money is going on. For them it is just another “reality” television show where they are trying to present everyone as pretty and acceptable.
As Casino Extra players we were very offended because, although television made stars out of a few, they were very demanding and yet returning nothing to the participants. By giving the three million dollars to the professional pool of players much of the sting of other compromises has been removed. Of course there is another side to this, the TV people argue that they have made poker a household word and that the fields are large and the media scrutiny intense only because they have found a way to make these events exciting (specifically by use of microphones, camera shots, personality profiles, and most especially the “hole cam” where the audience gets to see the player’s hidden cards and so can reflect on the ways that a successful player might win hands, chips, and money).
The whole Travel Channel presentation of The World Casino Extra Poker Tour events was almost surely inspired by the television show done in London in the 1990’s called ‘Late Night Poker’ which used a similar format but did not understand how to enhance the show and market itself and so did not get the big market share that the American version brought.