- Andrew Feldman, ESPN.com
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It's an all-star poker game every week with the Professional Poker Tour, and finally, you can watch it on TV. No internet qualifiers and nobody you won't recognize. Just good, clean, professional poker.
On Monday, WPT Enterprises, Inc. and the Travel Channel entered an agreement to air a PPT television series. The PPT features a series of invitation-only tournaments that are limited to the highest-ranked players in the world. The PPT is expected to begin airing in the third quarter of 2006 on Wednesday nights from 9-11 ET/PT.
The agreement comes after months filled with questions about where the Professional Poker Tour, a subsidiary of WPT Enterprises, would land. The WPT's development of the PPT led to negotiations with both the Travel Channel, which already airs WPT tournaments, and a third party for the TV rights. WPT Enterprises filed a lawsuit against the Travel Channel which alleged that after WPTE entered discussions with another network for the PPT rights, the Travel Channel sent letters out to both parties asserting that WPT Enterprises broke their broadcasting contract by entering negotiations with a party other than the Travel Channel.
Both organizations issued the following statement: "WPT Enterprises and the Travel Channel are pleased to announce that they have resolved their differences amicably and terminated the litigation between them. Both parties look forward to continuing their mutually prosperous relationship."
"This deal allows Travel Channel to feature 44 weeks of premiere episodes of WPT and PPT programming each year," said Pat Younge, an executive vice president and general manager of the Travel Channel.
In a statement, Steve Lipscomb, president, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises, Inc said, "The WPT is the first legitimate televised sports league in history that lets the viewer at home come play with sports greats. And now, when you play in World Poker Tour events you don't just have a shot at life-changing money and instant television stardom. Win a World Poker Tour event and you immediately get a three-year 'tour card,' allowing you to compete in PPT events. With the PPT, you get a shot at living the professional poker player lifestyle."
The PPT followed the PGA's system for the invitation process. To earn a card for the PPT, players will need to succeed on the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker main event, or be a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.
Added to the PPT lineup is star professional poker player Mark Seif, the only two-time bracelet winner in the 2005 World Series of Poker. Seif and actor/poker enthusiast Matt Corboy will lead the viewers through the tournament and provide expert insight into the minds of the pros at the table.
The five tournaments for Season One of the PPT were filmed at some of America's true palaces of poker: Foxwoods Resort Casino (Mashantucket, Conn.); Commerce Casino (Los Angeles); Bay 101 ( San Jose, Calif.); Bellagio (Las Vegas); and The Mirage (Las Vegas).
The Professional Poker Tour is coming to television