Poker Players on Reality TV: Good or Bad for the Game?
By Dan Cypra for POKER NEWS DAILY | Posted on August 18, 2009
Several poker superstars have joined the cast of reality shows in recent years. Bodog pro Jean-Robert Bellande was a castaway on the CBS reality hallmark “Survivor.” Annie Duke finished as the runner-up to Joan Rivers on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” Now, Tiffany Michelle will likely join Maria Ho on “Amazing Race.” Poker News Daily sat down with former PokerStars Marketing Director Dan Goldman to discuss whether these appearances are beneficial or hurtful to the game.
Poker News Daily: What are your thoughts on Tiffany Michelle and Maria Ho appearing on the 15th installment of CBS’ “Amazing Race”?
Goldman: These are two interesting characters. Tiffany is controversial, but I don’t think that makes her appearance negative. She’s controversial, but not despised, which could make for interesting television. My personal sense is that among people who know what’s going on with Ultimate Bet, I’m not sure there’s not a lot that can be done to rehabilitate the site’s image. One of the advantages of shows like “Amazing Race” is that they’re reaching an audience wider than poker and that’s what Ultimate Bet needs.
PND: Can you compare Tiffany Michelle’s “Amazing Race” appearance to Annie Duke’s performance on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice”?
Goldman: Annie is tightly associated with poker. Tiffany and Maria have their own aura that potentially transcends poker. They are two young, attractive women and will be a bit more interesting to a wider audience than Annie. They are, for the most part, unknown outside of poker.
PND: Tiffany Michelle is a member of Team UB. Is there any downside to the online poker site for her to appear on the show?
Goldman: I don’t think there’s a downside for Ultimate Bet. What’s the worst thing that could happen? It’s not like people are going to flee Ultimate Bet because her team didn’t act well. Their worst-case scenario for Ultimate Bet is that nothing happens. The best-case scenario is that a new audience will learn about them.
PND: Do you plan to watch “Amazing Race” when it debuts on September 27th on CBS?
Goldman: I watched the first season of the show and sort of liked it. I’m not a big fan of reality shows in general. If I watched one, it’d be this because it’s the best of an uninteresting brand of television. I’m obviously in the minority here, but the fact that a poker player is on it doesn’t affect me.
PND: When you were with PokerStars, was there any talk of using reality television as a marketing vehicle for your players?
Goldman: We talked about it, but briefly. We always stayed fairly close to poker. We did talk at length about doing a reality show centered on poker or one that had significant components of poker. We talked about doing a “Big Brother”-type show with a handful of poker players and a handful of people who were smart, but weren’t poker players. The goal was see if we could educate a non-poker crowd. We investigated it and there was some interest from networks, but not enough for them to fund development. It would have been a significant expense.
PND: What was the feedback you received from networks?
Goldman: It was poker and this was in 2004. Their feeling was if the show had poker, they wanted to hear about it. At least one of the networks was willing to do it as a partnership, but we decided that there were other ways to invest the millions of dollars that would have had more impact. PokerStars was a much different company back then than it is now.
PND: ESPN.com releases a weekly poker news show, “Inside Deal,” with Bernard Lee and Laura Lane that is sponsored by PokerStars. Have you watched it?
Goldman: It’s not bad. I think there’s a lot more they could do with it. If I were doing it, the show would be in smaller doses and more like “Entertainment Weekly.” It’d be a 15 minute show with short two to four minute segments, but it’s interesting. Bernard Lee is better than I thought he would be.
PND: Do you think there’s a market for a show like “Inside Deal” on television?
Goldman: I don’t think there’s a broad enough audience. If you did it once or twice a week for 15 minutes, it could attract an audience if you figured out where to put it. The show probably should tag along with a World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker episode. Stuff like this does better online and has longer legs. If it can be promoted properly, it has a lot of potential.http://www.pokernewsdaily.com/poker-players-on-reality-tv-good-or-bad-for-the-game-4277/