The World Series of Poker is well underway at Binion’s Horseshoe in Las Vegas.

I really wish I would have been there today to see the final table of the Pot Limit Omaha tournament — poker legends Men “The Master” Nguyen, Erik Seidel, and Chris Tsiprailidis made for a pretty impressive final table.

Update: Erik Seidel won, after an epic battle with Men “The Master”. Very good tournament report at the tournament link.

Last year Austin’s own Slot Gampang Menang Pages did an absolutely marvelous job of broadcasting all the final tables over the net, for free. This year, a company called iStreamPlanet nabbed the rights and is charging $14.95 for the privelege of seeing the regular tournaments, and an additional $29.95 for the main event. They’re accompanying it with false press releases claiming they are giving the WSOP its “internet debut”. So far they claim that 250 people have signed up — making the broadcast worth about $3,700 for four weeks of broadcasts. Wonder how much they paid. They’ll probably get at least double that number for the main event, for an additional $15,000, but that’s still pretty small dollars.

I say it’s a shame because it guarantees that only serious poker enthusiasts will watch the tournaments this year, unlike last year. Making poker widely accessible is good for the game; pay-per-view and inaccessible coverage is not. The upside is that the World Poker Tour continues to be successful on TV and is getting some good press. I hope it keeps up and regular poker becomes a permanent part of TV. WPT commentator Mike Sexton had a solid 7th in the $2,000 no-limit hold’em tournament on Saturday for a cash-out of $18,920.

Andy Glazer has a fantastic article about TV poker coverage and the general future of poker as a “sport” here. Glazer continues to be the best poker writer out there by far, both in terms of his writing quality and his genuine enthusiasm for the game:

The WPT has to produce ratings that justify the unprecedented production costs (great production values dont come cheap). If the WPT can do that, either this year or next, pokers hitherto untapped value as a television product will have arrived, finally letting poker boldly go where it has never gone before, creating opportunities for everyone involved in poker.

In other news, thanks to a last-minute trip from an old high school buddy from Australia, I’m heading out to Vegas this weekend where I will stop into Binion’s and quite likely play in the $2500 limit hold’em tournament on Saturday. I haven’t yet decided if I will do a straight buy-in as I have in the past few years or play in a single-table satellite, which I have had some good success with in some other tournaments over the past couple years. Wish me luck.

state-owned casinos? is this the USA?

The governor of Illinois wants to raise casino revenue to help overcome an enormous budget deficit. His plan: take over the casinos. This is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. Sometimes I’m almost glad Texas doesn’t have casinos just so I wouldn’t have to get all worked up over state politics, which I largely avoid.

The governor was short on details, but he envisioned one scenario where the state would own casinos and hire private operators to run them. A similar model is found in Ontario, Canada, he said.