UK Poker News: Playing Poker Via Television


SKY Network To Offer Poker Games

An innovation long in the cards is being introduced by an already well-known name: Sky. The media empire’s latest channel promises more than the eerie specters of animated greyhounds and lone roulette presenters talking through the small hours of the morning: a dedicated channel with an ambitious new program aiming to get people playing poker via TV – the medium that may well have introduced them to the game.

I was treated to a sneak preview tour of Sky Poker’s Feltham studios, in which the marvels of empty green room plus much high-tech gadgetry equal nightly shows of commentary on online poker multi-table tournaments. A series of guests (who play along with the onliners) and presenters, such as Helen Chamberlain and Sean Boyce, discuss the action with the third category, experts (they’ve got Ed Giddins, Tony Kendall, and Trevor Harris lined up, among others).

This has, of course, been done before (albeit with a smaller budget, and without CGI that the makers of Shrek would pause to look at). The interesting part is the new interactive format, which is available to potential players at home, with the hardware in many cases already in place (clever, isn’t it). I first heard about Internet poker through interactive TV about a year ago at an industry conference. Seeing as one can already wager money with a remote control, it seems a logical step for a company big enough to cope with the startup and advertising costs of a new poker product in a near-saturated market to make that leap to combine TV and Internet multi-table tournament (MTT) players at once. People with a Sky Bet account will now be able to use it to play poker via their set-top boxes, simultaneously watching the whole thing live (with a five-minute delay, of course) on the new channel, or streaming on the Web.

Pressing the red button on TV remotes seems a nonthreatening way of signing up to play low-stakes poker for the first time. I was assured that age checks and parental controls are used to stop the underage curious getting on, while the legality of the service is kept simple in that it will only be available in the UK at first. It remains to be seen whether numbers of new players, transferred from the other Sky Betting arenas or intrigued by the new show, will actually make money for the venture. High-rakers are unlikely to be delighted with the Web version being a Java applet instead of downloadable software, and novelty alone isn’t enough to tempt these fickle, bonus-sensitive players to a new site, especially a UK-only one where play is for sterling and the potential field is limited.

At the time of writing, the software was in final beta-testing stages. I was told it was proprietary, and (my tie-breaker) did not have an advance “Check/Call Any” button on the no-limit hold’em cash tables, the latter reassurance getting a big thumbs-up as often no-limit poker software is mutated from its limit variety without consultation with actual players. Expecting no huge innovations from this aspect of the launch, it’s the two-sided interactivity that makes it intriguing. Having the play of one’s avatar discussed by Messrs Kendall, Giddins, et al., is a pretty distant experience from being filmed on the final table in one of the GUKPT events, but it’s a place to start for new players, or a diverting one for old.

From Poker Online in the UK /

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