I’m sure all of you caught the debut of the latest “poker on TV” series over this past weekend, right? You know, the Ultimate Poker Challenge! You mean you missed it? Well, sure, the Cleveland market saw it on Friday at 1am while the Waco market had the poker-friendly Saturday 2am time slot.
I did manage to see the debut at 1am this morning when I should have been in bed. Looking back, I wish I had been in bed. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too rough here. It’s actually not a bad idea for a poker tourney, but the production seems a little amatuer.
Here’s the deal: The UPC consists of 23 slot hoki tournaments with a buy-in of $1000+60 [Ed. Note: One zero missing in original, thanks to the Quiet Lion for noticing] to be played from August 21st to October 28th. Each tournament gives players an opportunity to accumulate points. The 23 winners and the top 100 points finishers qualify for the two semi-final tourneys. There is no way to buy-in to those tourneys. The finalists then play for the big prize which may be about $600,000.
It’s interesting to watch how this format plays out. It should give us an indication of which players have staying power. Those who commit to playing a lot of these will accumlate more points. Those that win know they’ll already qualify.
The biggest problem with week #1 is that I didn’t recognize a single player. A 21-year old kid named Nicholas Bouyea won the tourney. They called him “Nick the Kid,” but I doubt he’s played enough to really earn a nickname. The “Kid” played well, however, making the right lay down and right call every time.
The standings page, at least, gives us hope of more high-profile players as the season continues. Eric Seidel, Mel Judah, Cyndy Violette, Thor Hansen and, Chip and Karina Jett are just some of the familiar names.
It might be best to watch this on mute, though, because the “play-by-play” man is former “Another World” actor and current poker player Chad Brown. You may recognize him from a 2004 WSOP final table (I think it was Stud). Chad was terrible. And his “analyst” week #1 was Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. Ferguson seemed clearly out of his element, especially after hearing Howard Lederer during Fox Sports Net’s live tourney.
If you are addicted to televised poker, like I am, this one will give you a minor fix, but leave you wanting something more and better. Just check out the television schedule for the weird time when it’s playing near you!