When the World Series of Poker (WSOP) released the schedule for its 49th annual edition in December, poker players worldwide began marking their calendars – and today poker fans can do the same.
Broadcasting partners Poker Central and ESPN issued a joint statement last week to hype the sports channel’s continuous coverage of the 2018 WSOP Main Event. This year will see ESPN broadcast at least 40 hours of semi-live coverage – on a 30-minute delay to comply with Nevada gaming regulations – supplemented by 130 more hours of originally produced content.
The WSOP Main Event features a $10,000 buy-in and no reentries, with the winner crowned the World Champion of No Limit Texas Hold’em. The tournament kicks off on July 2 and runs though July 14, with upwards of 7,000 players vying for the game’s most coveted title – along with a WSOP gold bracelet and several million in prize money.
ESPN’s sister channel ESPN-2 will carry the bulk of the network’s Main Event coverage, which includes everything from the three “Day 1” starting flights to the final table endgame.
And along with the Main Event, ESPN viewers can also watch the WSOP’s largest buy-in tournament, the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop. This biannual high-roller affair returns to the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for the first time since 2014, following a 2016 hiatus in Macau. In the last edition held at the WSOP proper, Dan Colman took home the bracelet and more than $15 million in winnings.
In a change of pace from year’s past, the Big One for One Drop will take place after the Main Event concludes, running from July 15-17. This scheduling adjustment allows well-heeled pros who happen to make a deep run in the Main Event time to hop in the high-roller.
In the joint press release, WSOP executive director Ty Stewart commented on the productive relationship between broadcast partners Poker Central and ESPN, which joined forces ahead of last year’s series. Stewart spoke specifically to the shift from ESPN’s previous model – which was based on broadcasting produced episodes well after the WSOP ended – and Poker Central’s semi-live daily coverage:
“We’re ecstatic that ESPN and Poker Central continue to raise the bar and deliver more live poker content to audiences across the globe.
Fans today demand immediacy and wall-to-wall coverage and this year’s offering delivers on that in spades.”
Poker Central’s chief digital officer J.R. McCabe observed a link between semi-live coverage and an uptick in WSOP viewership last summer:
“Last year, both ESPN viewership and PokerGO subscription numbers were very strong throughout the WSOP Main Event.
This year, we’re doubling down on live coverage of the World Series of Poker by adding the Big One for One Drop and bringing even more live poker to fans worldwide.”
Doug White, who serves as senior director of programming and acquisitions for ESPN, highlighted the expanded schedule’s ability to reach poker fans:
“ESPN has a long-running relationship with the World Series of Poker, and we are always looking for ways to bring viewers the most preeminent coverage.
By doubling down on our broadcast and digital platform coverage, we’re going to bring fans and viewers even closer to the sport’s biggest events from all aspects and angles.”
Poker Central will announce the live streaming schedule for its PokerGO app at some point between now and May. For now, check out the table below to see exactly what ESPN has in store for its coverage for two of the WSOP’s most high-profile events:
2018 WSOP Broadcast Schedule on ESPN
|July 2||8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 1A)||ESPN-2|
|July 3||8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 1B)||ESPN-2|
|July 4||8:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 1C)||ESPN-2|
|July 5||8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 2A/B)||ESPN-2|
|July 6||8 p.m. to 1 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 2C)||ESPN-2|
|July 7||6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 3)||ESPN-2|
|July 8||2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 4)||ESPN-2|
|July 9||10 p.m. to 2 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 5)||ESPN-2|
|July 10||8 p.m. to 11 p.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 6)||ESPN|
|July 11||12:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (ET)||Main Event (Day 7)||ESPN-2|
|July 12||9 p.m. to Six Players||Main Event (Day 8)||ESPN|
|July 13||9 p.m. to Three Players||Main Event (Day 9)||ESPN|
|July 14||9 p.m. to Winner||Main Event (Day 10)||ESPN|
|July 16-17||12 a.m. to 2 a.m. (ET)||Big One for One Drop (Live)||ESPN-2|
|July 17||7 p.m. to 9 p.m.||Big One for One Drop (Replay)||ESPN-2|
|July 17||9 p.m. to Winner||Big One for One Drop (Live)||ESPN-2|
|July 21||11 p.m. to 1 a.m.||Big One for One Drop (Replay)||ESPN-2|