Best Holdem Poker TV-Shows

Since the development and implementation of the “hole cam” (also called a “pocket cam”), televised Texas Holdem poker games have become extremely popular. Allowing audiences to view each players hole cards has made the game much more exciting for poker enthusiasts, giving us the sense of being a fly on the wall.

Many poker TV-shows are broadcast throughout North America and Europe, most featuring Texas Holdem poker tournaments. We will examine some of the best Holdem poker TV-shows on the air, and compare what makes each one unique.

Best Holdem Poker TV-Shows – World Series of Poker
The World Series of Poker was first televised sporadically by CBS in the late 1970s before being picked up by ESPN in 1987. Without the convention of hole cams, the show appealed mainly to hard-core poker fanatics, and consisted primarily of commentators attempting to predict what cards the players might be holding.

ESPN dropped the show in 1999, but picked it back up again in 2002 – the first televised poker event to feature the new “sneak peek” technology that later became known as the pocket cam, or hole cam. This innovative contribution gave the show a new dimension that appealed to a larger crowd. Soon ESPN began adding pre-game player interviews and coverage of action prior to the final table, continuing to expand the program’s format ever since. ESPN’s ever-evolving presentation of the largest major poker tournament in the world is what makes the World Series of Poker a contender for best Hold’em poker TV-show.

Best Hold’em Poker TV-Shows – World Poker Tour
The World Poker Tour has bounced around the dial several times since it’s 2003 television debut on American cable TV’s  The Travel Channel. The following year, the WPT was featured on network channel, NBC, opposite competitor CBS’ Super Bowl XXXVIII pregame show. The Travel Channel continued to air World Poker Tour coverage through its first five seasons, before World Poker Tour Enterprises announced that the show would air the sixth season of the WPT on the Game Show Network in 2008. The show moved, again, to the Fox Sports Net (FSN).

The WPT’s popularity on television has resulted in several spin-off tournaments, such as the Professional Poker Tour, and the Ladies Night events. The World Poker Tour can be seen Mondays on GSN, with episodes in the newest series appearing on Fox Sports Net (FSN). The opportunity to watch the biggest names in poker battle it out with talented newcomers contributes to making the World Poker Tour one of the best Holdem poker TV-shows on the air.

Best Holdem Poker TV-Shows – High Stakes Poker

When High Stakes Poker debuted on cable television’s Game Show Network (GSN), it was the first televised poker event that deviated away from the standard tournament format, implementing instead a Texas Holdem cash game where the chips represent actual money. The first season’s minimum buy-in – $100,000 – confirmed that the show would be exactly what the title implied; a high stakes poker game. In season 1, Daniel Negreanu bought in for a cool million.

The series has featured many of the biggest names in professional poker, including Doyle Brunson, Mike Matusow, Barry Greenstein, Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, Phil Hellmuth and online poker phenomenon Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan, alongside a plethora of other pros. High Stakes Poker also brings amateur players into the game, notably Jerry Buss and Fred Chamanara. Players are allowed to buy back into the game, if they lose their initial buy-in, for a minimum of $50,000. The show does pay the players for their time, though poker pro Jamie Gold has pointed out that the compensation doesn’t come close to the amount of money participants put at risk to join the game. With it’s exciting format and entertaining mix of players, it is no wonder that High Stakes Poker is one of the best Holdem poker TV-shows around.