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Finally, more good poker on television

You can debate whether we need more poker on television -- some ratings would indicate that we don't -- but I think we can always use more good poker on television.

And so, I was happy to learn that the Professional Poker Tour will finally get some TV face time now that the World Poker Tour and Travel Channel have kissed and made up.

Word came Monday that the PPT will begin airing in the late summer or early fall from 9 to 11 p.m. ET following the completion of the fourth season of the WPT.

The WPT's wanted to create a PGA-style series of freerolls open only to players who qualified via success on the WPT, at the World Series of Poker or through induction into the Poker Hall of Fame.

Televised poker is about star power. (See "Poker Superstars Invitational.") So, while winning a WPT event can make a star out of a player who's largely unknown to the public, the PPT is expected to feature final tables filled with name-brand players who've already accomplished something.

A little history here. The PPT was created in the middle of the ruckus about wearing logos at the table. At the time, players weren't allowed to wear advertisements at the final tables of WPT events, and the PPT was a move by the WPT to retain big-name participation. The rules prohibiting players from wearing logos at regular WPT events were changed last fall.

Although allowing logos at all final tables appeased many players, the issue of the WPT's TV waiver that each player must sign in order to compete remains. Several well-known pros -- including Chris "Jesus'' Ferguson, Phil Gordon and 2005 WSOP main event champ Greg Raymer, for instance -- are skipping WPT events because of what they interpret as onerous language in the waiver regarding the use of their images.

These big-name players fear that the WPT would have the rights to their images in products such as video games, which could compromise the players' exclusive deals with other companies.

The WPT says it compensates players for use of their names and images when they are the primary focus of products not related strictly to a broadcast.

So, the quality of the PPT fields could be affected by the language of the waiver, as well as whether it makes a difference to players that these are freerolls instead of events where they pony up their own cash.

The WPT put up $500,000 for each of five PPT events last year, shot the tournaments, then went looking for a broadcast outlet. The WPT appeared to have a deal with ESPN, but the Travel Channel went to court, claiming it had the rights to WPT spinoffs.

Although the WPT appeared to have a winning case, the Travel Channel appealed, creating a potentially protracted and expensive legal fight. Instead, the two sides determined it was time for a group hug.

The five tournaments from the first season of the PPT were played at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Bay 101 in San Jose, Calif., and Bellagio and The Mirage in Las Vegas.

Early word on Season Two of the PPT calls for another five events, likely starting with the WPT event at The Mirage in May. It is also believed that the WPT will replace the Foxwoods tournament with one at the "Legends of Poker'' at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles in August.

When they finally air, the PPT broadcasts will not feature well-known WPT commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. Instead, the story-telling and analysis will come from Matt Corboy and Mark Seif.

Corboy is characterized as an actor/poker enthusiast. You might've caught his work during his three seasons on "The Shield,'' as well as appearances on "ER,'' "Grey's Anatomy,'' and a bunch of commercials.

Seif, meanwhile, is a respected poker pro whose aggressive and animated style at the table is a stitch. He's coming off of a 2005 World Series in which he won two bracelets in no-limit hold'em events, the only double-bracelet winner last year.

Seif also finished fourth at the "Legends of Poker'' event in Season One of the WPT, which means he would have three years of eligibility in PPT events if he wasn't broadcasting them.

The look of the PPT broadcasts will differ from the regular WPT events, most notably via the two bubbles built into the table. Cameras housed inside the dark-tinted bubbles at each end of the table are expected to produce close-up views of players handling cards and chips, playing to the Hollywood notion of tells.

Steve Rosenbloom's book "The Best Hand I Ever Played" is available at bookstores everywhere. A regular contributor to ESPN.com, he is also author of a syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune. To leave Steve some feedback or ask him a question for his column, check out his mailbag.