2008 was a scary year for poker on TV. TV poker ratings have been declining since early in the poker boom, and the World Poker Tour and High Stakes Poker looked like they might not come back. Both High Stakes Poker and the World Poker Tour eventually returned, but the the World Poker Tour's viability is still in question. On the other hand, the WSOP's experiment with a delayed final table did result in a ratings boost.
I care more about quality than quantity, however. Amid many disappointments (e.g.) there was one promising development: more cash games (or "real poker" as Doyle Brunson, Patrik Antonius, and I like to call it) on TV. I was particularly happy to see an existing show, Poker After Dark, add cash games to their lineup. Still, I found much less to reward in 2008 than in previous years, as you can see from the awards below.
Best Poker Show
Poker After Dark Cash Games
Poker After Dark Tournaments
Best Foreign Show
I like Poker After Dark mostly for showing more of what I tune into poker shows for: poker. It shows most of the hands, with very little non-poker content. Now it also shows the cash games most of us play, where the first hand matters as much as the last and it never becomes a shortstacked all-in fest.
I had to come up with a new category for The Game, the excellent Swedish cash game. It might have won best show if it were aired in the US, but this site is about poker on US TV.
I was disappointed that none of my favorite poker commentators had regular gigs in 2008. A talented analysts, or no commentary at all (e.g. The Game, from the point of view of someone who doesn't understand Swedish), is better than the comedians and showmen that populate most shows. Even basic play-by-play (though it becomes unnecessary with good onscreen graphics) is often ignored (Barry Tompkins was a notable exception).
See also our 2007 and 2006 Poky Awards.
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