ESPN Should Air Classic 'World Series of Poker' Seasons


We are all trapped inside our homes for the foreseeable future. ESPN, a sports channel, is completely without sports for the same undetermined amount of time. Every day we're both scrambling to fill the hours. The time has come for ESPN to turn back the clock to a time when ratings where high, online poker was legal, and we somehow has a less problematic person in the White House. The time has come for ESPN to break out the World Series of Poker broadcasts that started the poker boom.

Chris Moneymaker and ESPN's broadcast of the 2003 WSOP was America at i's most optimistic. A guy turned $39 into $2.5 million. This is inspiration we need right now. We need to be reminded that anything is possible, assuming anyone has $39 left when this is all over.

It's not a sport, but it's a competition. It's comedy and drama. It's bingeable. It is the perfect way for ESPN to help us fill some dark times. We are a nation searching for leaders and time-wasters. Let us turn to Lon McEachern and Norman Chad.

The old WSOP episodes are full of poker's biggest stars. Sure, some of them ended up not aging well, but in the context of WSOP as a show, they are great reality show characters. If you want to put our current state of affairs in perspective, watch Phil Hellmuth react to a reasonably bad beat. No matter what happened to these people over the last 17 years, they were good television.

Then there's the fact that we can watch these old episodes and mine them for reaction GIFs. And we can remember that poker was so popular so quickly that ESPN produced a scripted dramatic television series about it. Everyone remembers Playmakers, only real ESPN fans remember Tilt. And only quarantined people will watch it again 15 years later. And Chris Ferguson knows we're going to have plenty of those.

So let's watch the World Series of Poker. And if for some reason ESPN refuses, you can at least kill some time by reading the oral history of the '03 main event from the Grantland archives.