Canadian poker fans now have a new home with GameTV, after the basic digital tier channel inked an exclusive broadcast deal with the World Poker Tour (WPT).
Beginning on May 29, episodes from the WPT’s first and second seasons have aired daily on GameTV, alongside Seasons XIII and XIV.
This marks the first time a Canadian television channel has aired WPT broadcasts in the tour’s 16-year history.
In a jointly issued press release announcing the deal, the WPT’s vice president of distribution Johnny McMahon praised GameTV as an optimal platform for poker:
“WPT Distribution is pleased to partner with GameTV to allow for World Poker Tour content to be widely available across the Canadian region.
Poker is a global game, and the WPT is a global brand, making the partnership with GameTV, a subsidiary of leading global sports media company Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., a perfect pairing as WPT Distribution continues to aggressively expand our international content offering.”
Anthony Cicione, president of GameTV and the Fight Network, commented on the natural connection between the channel’s competitive focus and WPT tournament coverage:
“GameTV is excited to add World Poker Tour content to its robust catalog of programming.
As the premier name in the distribution of internationally televised gaming and entertainment, WPT Distribution offers the type of superior content GameTV prides itself on.
We are proud to partner with WPT Distribution to be the company’s international broadcaster in Canada.”
Based on GameTV’s status as a basic tier channel – making it available on most cable and satellite packages – WPT episodes are now accessible in an estimated nine million Canadian homes.
Season XVI of the global poker tournament circuit is currently underway, with the WPT Montreal stop taking place from late October to mid-November at Playground Poker Club.
The WPT has held events in Canada since 2006, beginning with Season V and the WPT Canadian Open Championship at Fallsview Casino Resort.
And despite the lack of network coverage in Canada, the WPT has a long history in the country, including several memorable “made for TV” moments.
Last year, Season XV saw the tour make three northward stops, starting with the CA$3,500 PartyPoker.net Canadian Spring Championship at Playground Poker Club in April.
American pro Seth Davies outlasted a 417-runner field to take the title – and CA$274,540 in prize money – while WPT broadcaster and semi-pro player Tony Dunst finished in sixth place (CA$51,400). Dunst was looking to etch his name in the WPT Champions Cup for the second time.
By November of 2016, the WPT headed to Playground Poker Club for its WPT Montreal stop, a CA$3,850 buy-in event that attracted 648 hopefuls.
This time around it was lead commentator Mike Sexton – the iconic voice of the WPT since the tour’s inception – who played his way to the televised final table. Despite taking frequent shots as a player, and decades of experience as a tournament pro, Sexton had never won a title on tour.
That drought ended in spectacular fashion at WPT Montreal, where Sexton clawed his way back from an enormous heads-up chip deficit to defeat Benny Chen – a pro hailing from Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island.
Sexton earned CA$425,980 for the win, but the legend made it clear that finally attaining victory on his beloved tour mattered more than any amount of money.
In May, Sexton announced his retirement from the WPT broadcast booth, where his seat alongside Vince van Patten will now be filled by Dunst. Sexton assumed the role of Chairman at PartyPoker, the online poker room he helped to found in 2001.