LPS brings poker TV to Hispanic market

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As poker continues to grow in popularity there has been a serious absence of Spanish-language TV poker programming in America.The Latino Poker Series has stepped into Miami, the country’s top Hispanic market, to fill that void.

Presented five nights a week on Mega TV (Ch. 22) in Miami, this 30-minute program debuted June 27 with solid production and interesting play to the delight of poker fans in South Florida.

“This is absolutely the right time for this show,” LPS executive producer William Riveron said. “It’s the first Hispanic poker tournament on TV in the U.S. and this is not periodic; this is something you can count on every Monday through Friday to watch.”

Each night after the initial airing, the show is replayed 12:30-1 a.m.
“We will attract primarily a Spanish-speaking audience, and hopefully they will fall in love with the game. But we will also draw the bilingual Hispanic who is already interested in poker, and the avid players who do not speak Spanish but can’t get enough of the game,” he said.

Riveron, who has an advertising background, said dominoes has garnered the focus of older Hispanics in the past, but poker is taking over among Latinos of all ages as the game of choice.

“In our business, we always target the middle-aged or younger demographic, but this program is getting to everyone,” he said. “Our main goal is to educate the Latin market about poker and give them a voice.I felt there was no representation for the hundreds of thousands of Latinos that love the game.”

With enough material from the original shoot at Miami’s Magic City Casino to supply five weeks of shows, the original format will have a different single-table tournament each week shown over the course of Monday through Friday with hole cards shown and the latest in poker graphics.

Riveron said formats could evolve to include celebrity events and high-stakes cash games. “Keep in mind that this is a pilot series; we will continue to tweak the presentation and constantly try to improve the program.”

Danny Rivera calls the action and Artie Rodriguez provides color analysis, while attractive Venezuelan actress Yami Quintero hosts, interviewing some of the contestants. All three are avid poker enthusiasts.

Rodriguez, who calls himself a “decent amateur player,” said he’ll approach the broadcast as a fan.“I do think we can help explain the rationale for the players’ decision-making process.” Rodriguez said.

While the LPS will be broadcast only in Miami, Riveron hopes to expand nationally. Certainly the opportunity to expand is a natural with Mega TV, a broadcast, cable and satellite operation with outlets in major U.S. markets.It also has a strong presence in Puerto Rico.

Riveron said he might also look to broadcast from other cardrooms to offer variety.

“Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica are definite opportunities outside this country,” he said, “and we’ve had strong interest from them.”

Said Magic City poker room manager Ileana Zamora: “The show will definitely help educate players and those that don’t play will be even more curious. There’s no better advertising for the game.”

WPT returns to Florida for regional events

On the heels of the World Poker Tour’s first venture into Northern Florida at the Orange Park Poker Room in Jacksonville, the WPT returns to the Hard Rock in Hollywood for the Summer Splash Open (Aug. 12-22).Early events of the series, which will have affordable buy-ins as cheap as $150, will overlap with the Jacksonville regional (Aug. 5-17).

The main event (Aug. 19) of the Summer Splash, featuring a $2,200 buy-in and a $250,000 guarantee, will be played in the Hard Rock’s ballroom, which willhost about 40 tables.

“These regional events offer the opportunity for more players to get involved in the WPT experience,” Hard Rock director of poker operations Bill Mason said.

— Big Dave Lemmon is Ante Up’s South Florida Ambassador. Email him at bigdave@pokeractionline.com.