I abandoned my effort to avoid finding out who won the World Series of Poker the morning after the main event ended, when my eye fell on the winner's name in my local newspaper. What I didn't realize then was how ridiculous my plan to keep myself ignorant actually was. I would have had to shut my ears to all poker chatter for five months, if I wanted to get to ESPN's final broadcast with the outcome still unknown to me.



The goose that laid the golden flop probably has a cast-iron neck. With the hold 'em tsunami lifting all TV poker boats (Travel Channel, A&E;, Bravo, Fox Sports Net), it appears that the game is immune from overexposure. But by dragging its broadcasts of the 2005 WSOP — an event that lasted three and a half weeks — over 13 weeks, and adding a five-week-long appetizer of early-'05 "circuit events" taking place around the country before we even get to Vegas — ESPN is abusing its status as the classy senior member of the TV poker fraternity.

The main event finally starts on October 11, and after twelve hours of coverage, we'll reach the final table just before Thanksgiving. Right now, I feel like ESPN is fattening itself up like that Butterball I'll be brining around then, while I catch the scraps from the table.

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