ESPN loves Ivey

The July 10

In less than a week ESPN's 2009 World Series of Poker Coverage will begin airing and the network's production team cannot wait to show the world what they've got.

"This is the most excited I've ever been," said ESPN coordinating producer Jamie Horowitz. "There are new events we've never televised before and a record number of hours of the Main Event."

Coverage will begin Tuesday, July 28, at 8 p.m. ET with the final table of the 2009 WSOP $40,000 40th anniversary event featuring 2004 Main Event champ Greg Raymer, 2008 WSOP bracelet winner Vitaly Lunkin and a series of top young pros.

Running every Tuesday from July 28 through November 10, the coverage will also feature action from the WSOP Champions Invitational, the star-studded Ante Up for Africa charity tournament and, for the first time ever, 24 hours of Main Event footage.

"That was the most common comment from fans," Horowitz said. "More Main Event; it's what they want."

ESPN's coverage will culminate with the final table of the Main Event airing November 10 and Host Norman Chad said he is particularly pleased with the November Nine lineup that will contest for the title this year.

"Each final table is like a snowflake; they're all different and I love them all," he said. "But if you've got the greatest player in the world and you have a logger, whose whole business is lumber and logs, at the same final table; Phil Ivey and Darvin Moon are the Main Event in a nutshell."

Last year's delayed final table created an unparalleled level of interest and ESPN saw ratings for the Main Event final jump by 50 per cent.

Horowitz believes the presence of Ivey may have a similar effect.

"It's long been discussed in the modern era of poker; could a pro ever win the Main Event?" he said.

"Having Phil Ivey as a part of our November Nine has added a new level of interest in poker. It's an elevated sense of excitement for this season."

Chad could not agree more.

"There's an air of him unequalled by the other pros," he said. "There's some mystical, magical quality that actually elevates him above the rest. He has an amazing table presence unequalled in the game."

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