By Sean Chaffin
The World Poker Tour brings a special atmosphere each year to bestbet Jacksonville, but the property tries to keep that excitement going year-round and has made some major investments in offering more to its players over the last year. That includes major expansion and improvements to the bestbet LIVE set and facilities.
The set is adjacent to the WPT playing area (pictured) and offers players the opportunity to be part of the property’s live streaming action. bestbet LIVE has been a work in progress over the last year. The high-tech set is now what players might find in a professional studio – with signage, trusses, lighting, and flatscreens surrounding the set so onlookers can follow along.
Just two weeks ago, the property completed an exterior barrier surrounding the set and poker table. That barrier features a built-in bar on both sides for viewers to sit and take in the action on the felt. bestbet has also finished out two rooms with complete editing and production equipment. That includes a room for player interviews and commentary. It’s a full-service poker production facility.
“We do a lot of different streams,” bestbet executive director of poker operations Jesse Hollander says. “We’ll do final tables of monthly tournaments, final tables of special event tournaments, and a couple nights a week we’ll do cash games.”
Cash games are picked not just to appeal to high rollers, he says, with games ranging from $2/$5 to $5/$10 to $10/$25. The property has also streamed $5/$5 Pot Limit Omaha and more. The goal is to always have something a bit different and appeal to players with many having a chance to play live so friends and family can watch them play.
“We’ll stream anything,” Hollander says. “We try to give everybody an opportunity to be on the stream.”
Players can even apply online to be part of the LIVE action. The facility’s live streams are available on its Facebook page, Twitch stream, and archived on Youtube. This week, the WPT Royal Flush Crew Satellite Sit-n-Go was even streamed on bestbet LIVE with crew member Ivy Teves coming out on top. She also won the event the last time she was here four years ago.
“Being in the studio felt very energizing and it was so much fun being around great people,” Teves said. “The new set looks amazing with cool lighting, comfy chairs, and a super-cool, well-designed, lit-up poker table. It was the perfect setup for keeping my title.”
Plans for the set got underway at the Season XVI WPT event with a high roller tournament final table as the first stream. The property had some new RFID tables to use for the streams. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. Hollander and staff were pleased with how things turned out and quickly made plans to make something more permanent, efficient, and professional.
The live streams are on a 30-minute delay and show hole cards. Commentators regularly call the action from the production room and answer questions from players on social media. All of the editing and production is done in-house.
Keeping players involved and streaming from the venue has been a great marketing opportunity, Hollander says, and keeps players interested in what’s going on at bestbet.
“We had to make something that would work well for a production, and visually appealing in the poker room because it was going to be a permanent set,” he says. “So we created that set with the truss system and got rid of all the tripods and cords, and made it real clean and nice looking so it stands out.
“We’re not production people though, we’re poker people and we’re learning as we go.”
The whole project was given a $30,000 budget, but Hollander says the operation has now gone well past that as more has been added. bestbet management has been pleased with how things have turned out.
Along with its live poker offering, the “bestbet Poker Show” airs every Wednesday from 6-7 p.m. on 1010 AM-WJXL (1010XL) and 92.5-FM in the Jacksonville area.
In conjunction with the show, bestbet runs a 1010XL Tournament each quarter. The event features a $110 buy-in, and a feature table and the final table are shown on bestbet LIVE.
Overall, Hollander believes the addition of the live streaming and facilities have been a net gain for bestbet and something bestbet can continue to build on and improve.
“I think it’s very important because it’s kind of a new thing,” he says. “There’s a lot of people doing live streams, it’s catching on. People like to watch the live streams because you get to see every hand, and from a poker training perspective, they’re very important. It also gives us just another opportunity to talk about what’s going on in the poker rooms.”
Here’s a look at the upcoming bestbet LIVE schedule:
- Oct. 24 – Feature Table of the $110 1010XL Main Event
- Oct. 25 – $5/$10 NLH
- Oct. 30 – $2/$5 NLH DEEP
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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