Sunday, April 13, 2008

Heartland Poker Tour Review

**-*** I'd heard that Heartland Poker Tour was a bad show, especially its commentary, before ever seeing it. When my regional Fox Sports affiliate started carrying it (check a programming guide to see if it airs in your area) I watched it and found that I liked it more than I expected.

Heartland Poker Tour's format is like that of the World Poker Tour: they show the final six players of multi-table tournaments. The production values and tournament buyins are lower, however. They take two hours per event, though it's split into two shows. The commentary is indeed weak, sometimes showing a poor understanding of poker theory, and they talk over the table talk too much. The onscreen graphics are notably poor: they don't show the action, pot size, or all the hole cards. Like many poker shows, they don't indicate position clearly, and they don't show the chip stacks often enough. They don't do play-by-play well enough to make up for the lack of onscreen graphics. It's hard to tell who is who among these unknown players, and they only put their first names onscreen. The structure insures that the second episode of each event is coinflips.

So why do I like this show as much as I do? I think it's because it seems real. Too much poker on TV these days is made for TV, overproduced, too much like reality TV, and features the same cast of "TV pros." Heartland Poker Tour, on the other hand, just seems like real people playing a real local poker tournament that just happens to be filmed. I'm not sure if you'll like this show or not; all I can say is that I liked it more than I expected. I suggest you watch it for yourself and decide.


  1. Poker News Daily interviewed the Heartland Poker Tour's founders:

    There was a definite production threshold that had to be met with the HPT and we realized that early on. Our budget may be one-tenth of other poker shows, but it had to look like those other shows to some degree. If it didn’t hold up, stations wouldn’t take it and people wouldn’t watch it.

  2. The HPT got one-year sponsorship deal with, a big deal for a little tour like this. There are no immediate plans for online qualifiers, but Executive Producer Greg Lang hopes something can be worked out in the future. Source:

  3. I believe that is why the show is so popular across the country. The players are real and they are not acting. Nor is anything staged. Kind of like the 2003 WSOP was with Moneymaker. IMO the WSOP now looks too staged, hyped, and acted. Nothing is real anymore.

  4. Heartland Poker Tour season 7 starts airing this week.


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