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UltimateBet’s Annie Duke Freeroll and Free Sports Picks

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Players wanting to square off against an elite pro but not pony up a huge tournament entry fee now have a chance to put their skills to the test against 2004 World Series of Poker bracelet winner Annie Duke. By sitting at a specially designated Holdem table at online poker site Ultimate Bet, players can earn points for use in the site’s monthly “Annie Duke Freeroll” event.

The prize pool for the event is $1,000, which comes directly from Duke’s “hard-earned cash,” according to ultimatebet.com. The maximum number of entries is 400 and the winner nets $300. The site’s promotional materials state that “you’ll find Annie attending this freeroll event occasionally both to chat with and challenge the players.”

To qualify for the tournament, players must earn 300 UltimatePoints during a month of play at the site’s Annie Duke $4-$8 Texas Holdem table. Points are earned for each hour of play and each hand dealt, with the point amount tied to the amount of the rake. Details are available at ultimatebet.com.

Duke defeated a field of 234 players at last year’s World Series of Poker $2,000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo tournament and later beat eight other top pros to take home the $2 million first prize at the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions. She contributes strategy articles and partakes in promotions as a member of “Team UB”.

POKER ON TV AND FREE SPORTS PICKS

2005 seems already certain to be the saturation point for poker programming on television. In the coming year, at least one gaming cable network will launch, and the plethora of tournament poker, and specialty poker shows will continue. ESPN will again expand on its already extensive coverage of the WSOP, and the World Poker Tour, (and the new Professional Poker Tour), and Celebrity Poker show no signs of slowing down in terms of ratings, or interest.

Still, one must wonder how much is TOO much in terms of poker on TV. The production values of some of the televised poker these days is bordering on insulting, and it seems only a matter of time before the good separates itself from the bad. At some point, people will begin to distinguish between watching tournaments with the stars of the game in them, and watching 6 random players go at each other. Any form of entertainment places high value on its “stars”, and one of the ways those stars are made is through repeated exposure. It seems that much like the world of online poker (see below), in 2005 we will see the streamlining of the offerings of poker on television, and well thought out, sufficiently budgeted programming will continue to thrive, while some of the lower budgeted programming may fall away. In the end, I think maintaining a certain quality level for TV poker programming will bode the best for the long-term health of poker as a TV option.

Predictions for 2005 – poker on TV

Steve Lipscomb will make more money than you or I (and many others) combined.

Some TV type will be the first to use a 4-color deck in a televised tournament. Purists in card rooms across the land will riot (or at least grumble).

Celebrity Poker will NOT replace a host.

The first television poker “league” will form, and play to mixed results.

I will make a television final table (maybe that should be under ‘dream’, and not prediction).

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