ESPN is no stranger to award nominations, but it is always nice for us poker fans to see our beloved pastime recognized.  Such is the case with this year’s Sports Emmy nominations, as ESPN’s coverage of the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event final table has been nominated for one of the coveted awards.
The category in which the WSOP coverage is nominated is “Outstanding Live Event Turnaround.”  This is particularly appropriate for the WSOP, as the changes that were made to the Main Event structure the year before have made for a challenging couple days in November for ESPN’s production crew.  Up until 2008, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em World Championship was just played and filmed straight through, across several days, from start to finish.  A few months later, ESPN would air pieces of the competition once a week in primetime in the United States.
In an effort to build excitement for the final table as well as to avoid fans having the result spoiled for them, WSOP organizers and ESPN changed the structure of the Main Event in 2008.  Now, once the final table is reached, play is paused until November, when the final nine players – dubbed the “November Nine” – return to the Rio in Las Vegas to determine the champion.  The November portion of the competition runs for two days: the first day sees places three through nine determined, while the second day is reserved for heads-up play.  The ESPN production crew then furiously edits hours upon hours of tape, cobbles together a program, and gets it on the air the day after the Main Event ends.  Hence the “Live Event Turnaround.”
The WSOP final table coverage is up against the 2009 Bassmaster Classic (ESPN2), the 2009 Tour de France (CBS/Versus), Inside the Headsets (Speed), The 25th All Star Race (NASCAR Media Group), and Inside the PGA Tour – The Deutsche Bank Championship (PGA Tour Entertainment).  It was also nominated for a Sports Emmy last year in the same category, but lost to NBC’s Games of the XXIX Olympiad, which won five Emmys in all.
The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network leads all networks in Sports Emmy nominations for the ninth time in the last ten years with 54.  Its investigative program, E:60, is the most nominated program this year, appearing on the nominee list seven times.  Those seven nominations are in just five categories, however, as E:60 is nominated twice in Outstanding Long Feature and Outstanding Short Feature.  The program is also nominated for Outstanding Sports Journalism, Outstanding Edited Sports Series/Anthology, and Outstanding Graphic Design.
This year’s World Series of Poker kicks off on May 28th with the inaugural Player’s Championship, a five day, eight game, $50,000 buy-in event which replaces the $50,000 HORSE event in an effort to essentially crown the world’s best “all around” player.  The $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will begin July 5th and run through July 17th before adjourning until the November Nine pick it back up in the fall.

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