How EPTLive became award-winning web TV

January 12, 2013

Over 60% of TV shows are cancelled after their first season. Precious few make it to a seventh run with their ratings and reputation intact. EPTLive – recently voted Favorite Web-based Poker Show in the 2013 BLUFF Reader’s Choice Awards – is a member of that exclusive club.

This Sunday at 20:00 CET you can watch EPTLive’s annual sojourn to the Caribbean as we bring you live coverage of the PCA 2013 Main Event. You’ll see the entire final table on a 40-minute delay with player hole-cards shown. But apart from the cards-up element, surprisingly little has changed since EPTLive made its debut at Dortmund in March 2007.

Webcasting a poker tournament is still exciting but in 2013 it’s not exactly revolutionary. Most poker tours attempt it in some form or other. But back then PokerStars and the EPT were blazing a trail all of their own. YouTube had launched a year earlier and grainy clips of pets playing musical instruments were all the rage.

The poker boom was gathering pace, though. Legendary lo-fi cash game show Live at The Bike was already nearing the end of its two-year run. In late 2006 with the EPT on the rise, PokerStars’ then Head of TV Conrad Brunner and then EPT chief John Duthie started discussing poker webcasting on a whole new level.


TV set: European Poker Tour final table

At PokerStars we never stop looking for ways to improve your poker experience, whether that’s at the tables or on your TV screen. We wanted all of our players to experience the unmistakable atmosphere of a major tournament and to see how a big money final table really plays out. PokerStars turned to the EPT production team at Sunset+Vine to make it happen.

The end result would be raw, unedited and true to tournament poker, with all the polish of the EPT TV show. It wasn’t cheap but it was worth it. Players around the world came to watch in droves.

Because we were actually webcasting live, showing hole cards was out of the question. With televised poker largely dependent on the hole card camera, many were surprised that poker could work without them. We play the game with limited information, so why can’t we have fun watching with limited information?

So started the long tradition of the guest pro, doing their best to read the play and give viewers their insights into real-time tournament decision. Which is easier said than done of course. Much to the amusement of early EPTLive viewers John Duthie famously hedged his bets by putting everyone on pocket tens.

Sat alongside those pros are the people that keep you entertained and the show going, sometimes all through the night. EPTLive has always had the best presenters in the business, including Lee Jones, James Hartigan, Nick Wealthall, David Tuckman and more recently Joe Stapleton and Matt Broughton. Their knowledge, passion for the game and endurance is second-to-none.

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James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton

As important as presenters and pros may be, EPTLive has always been about you, the viewers. Every show wants you to interact via Twitter nowadays and we’re no different. You just can’t beat it. Originally though, the ‘nuts’ inbox was the only way to get in touch. Quite why the address is I don’t know, but it stuck. Despite the popularity of Twitter the email address is still there for you to play fanboy, critic or send your Fake Facts (© EPTLive) about a country without being ‘social’.

The final ingredient is, of course, the venerable EPTLive freeroll. Many of you like to have the webcast on whilst you’re playing and we wanted everyone to have that opportunity. What we didn’t expect was to see so many Platinum Star and Supernova players join in, just to be part of the EPTLive community for a day.

And that is probably the key to EPTLive’s success. On final table night it’s a focal point for the poker community and everyone is invited. The thrill of a local hero making a deep run electrifies a country’s poker community as they follow the action on EPTLive.

This Sunday the PCA Main Event will create new heroes and inspire the poker stars of the future. Tune in to and experience it yourself.


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