Before play began today, Ty Stewart took to the mic to mark this very special day in poker's history. Today is the day that ESPN's coverage of the 2011 WSOP officially begins, and they're rolling out some new and exciting toys for this year's production. For the first time ever, the run to the Main Event bracelet will be shown "live" on a 30-minute delay on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPN3.com. We know "live delay" is a bit of an oxymoron; we're just going with what the press release says here. Either way, the important bit is that there will be hole cards and live commentary from Lon McEachern, David Tuchman, and a rotating cast of guest pros to compliment the broadcasts. Football isn't the only sport with a sideline reporter, either, and the WSOP now has Kara Scott filling in the coverage from the rail. In fact, there's a whole new production crew in charge as 441 is out and Poker PROductions is in. The regular Tuesday night telecasts will begin on July 26th and run for 16 consecutive weeks leading up to the November Nine. Here are some more numbers involved in the production this year:
- 4.5 - Miles of cable used
- 10 - Number of days to build the WSOP bracelet-themed lighting truss structure
- 40 - Number of live hours of Main Event coverage -- a first
- 55 - Number of ESPN cameras (18 hole-card cams, 14 feature cams, 9 secondary cams + others)
- 88 - Number of LED video panels throughout the room
- 150 - Number of people involved in the WSOP telecasts
- 700 - Number of lights used on-set
- 1,000 - Number of man hours needed to go from an empty room to a final set for the telecast
Today's broadcast schedule has coverage from 3-9pm Eastern (that's now!) on ESPN3.com, and from 7-9pm and 11pm-2:30am on ESPN 2. As such, the break schedule for today is a bit funky.
We'll play this first level, then take a twenty-minute break. Then we'll play the second level, followed by a ten-minute break. That will put us into the third level of the day, and we'll play half of it before heading off for a two-hour dinner break around 5:30pm local time. Play will resume at 7:30 with the other half of the level, then we'll take a 15-minute break, then we'll play the fourth level of the day. And that's it. The bags will be out right at 10:45pm tonight for the lucky survivors.