ESPN to present WSOP Europe

John Juanda

ESPN is bringing a little slice of poker in London to America with the premier of the World Series of Poker Europe this February.

Starting Feb. 1, ESPN will devote eight hours of coverage to the 2008 World Series of Poker Europe Main Event from the Casino at the Empire. The event drew 362 players from Europe, the United States and around the world to play for a coveted WSOP bracelet.

The field was split into two starting days and whittled down over a six-day period to get to a champion. The final table itself took more than 19 hours to complete before the winner was able to claim his bracelet and the $1.5 million top prize.

The top news when the final table began play was the presence of Ivan Demidov. The Russian had already made the final table of the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas and was playing in Europe while the tournament was on break until November, when the final table would resume.

He was looking at a chance to win two Main Events in the same year. Demidov had a fair bit of competition at the final table, though.

Daniel Negreanu, Scott Fischman, Bengt Sonnert and John Juanda were among the finalists, giving the table a heavy slant toward well-known pros. Plus, there was another Russian, Stanislav Alekhin, and Robin Keston, Toni Hiltunen and Chris Elliott to round out the table.

Demidov lived up to the hype as he and Alekhin made a case for Russia being the next home to some of the world's best poker players, but it was Juanda who ended up in the winner's seat as Demidov fell in third and Alekhin second.

ESPN was there for the entire battle from start to finish, and now it will bring that battle to the United States.

"The intimate look and feel of this tournament is different from other WSOP events we produced in the United States," said Doug White, ESPN senior director of programming and acquisitions.

Part of that distinction is due to the contrast between the Amazon Room that plays home to the WSOP Main Event at the Rio in Las Vegas and the much smaller venue for the WSOPE in London. The smaller card club environment saw players seated in side rooms, under the stairs, behind the bar, near the roulette tables and in front of the ice cream shop.

Plus, ESPN brought in a new innovation called the Mobile Hole Card Camera that will allow the network to show hole cards from key hands at many of the outer tables during the series as well as from the feature table.

"We believe the Mobile Hold Card Camera will provide fans a great understanding of the overall story behind the tournament, and how the players advanced to the final table," said Jamie Horowitz, ESPN senior sports producer.

ESPN's coverage of the WSOPE begins Feb. 1 with the first four episodes airing at 6 p.m. ET. This will be followed by an encore presentation of episodes one and two on ESPN2 at 10 p.m. that same day.

The ESPN2 air dates are:

  • Feb. 1: 10 p.m. Episode 1, 11 p.m. Episode 2
  • Feb. 8: 10 p.m. Episode 3, 11 p.m. Episode 4
  • Feb. 15: 10 p.m. Episode 5, 11 p.m. Episode 6
  • March 1: 10 p.m. Episode 7, 11 p.m. Episode 8

To check out who played in the events and what kind of action you can expect from the WSOP Europe, visit the Live Tournaments section.


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