ESPN poker show viewership the biggest yet on initial broadcasts

The decision by ESPN and the World Series of Poker organisers to delay the final table action on the 2008 spectacular will literally play out next month starting November 11, but the big TV buildup has already commenced.

Last week the ESPN network showed the attrition of 79 players down to 27 players filmed at the Rio in Las Vegas earlier this year, and reported that it attracted the biggest viewership for a poker show in the last two years, a statistic that will be seen as a vindication of the strategy to delay playing and filming the final table action.

This week the screening of another episode on October 28, featuring the elimination of more players to reach 18 contestants, looked likely to achieve similar high ratings. This was followed on the same evening by a further screening showing how the 18 were whittled down to the final 9 who have yet to play in the grand final table of the 2008 tournament.

According to company statements, the rest of the televised schedule looks like this:

Tuesday, November 4 at 10:00 PM ET –Final table preview show
Tuesday, November 11 at 8:00 PM ET –Final table preview show
Tuesday, November 11 at 9:00 PM ET –Final table
Tuesday, November 11 at 10:00 PM ET –Champion Crowned

The statement reminds readers that last year's WSOP Main Event champion took home $8.25 million, but this year's winner will collect a massive $9 119 517 for his time and trouble, second only to Jamie Gold's $12 million payday in 2006. Other mega-paydays will be:

Second Place: $5 790 024
Third Place: $4 503 352
Fourth Place: $3 763 515
Fifth Place: $3 088 012
Sixth Place: $2 412 510
Seventh Place: $1 769 174
Eighth Place: $1 286 672
Ninth Place: $900 670

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