By 4 March 2024 | Categories: news


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The 2024 SunBet Poker Tour has kicked off a new season with the opening event at the Time Square Casino in Pretoria, with a guaranteed prize pool of R12-million.

Backed by Sun International, the Time Square event runs from 28 February to 10 March. This is followed by further events at Sun International casinos, including Sun City, the Boardwalk and Sibaya Casino, concluding at GrandWest in Cape Town in December. 

Each SunBet Poker Tour event features several days of competitive play across different experience levels, from novices to professional poker players and high rollers. TechSmart had an opportunity to go behind the scenes at Africa’s richest poker tour at Time Square Casino last Friday, looking at what goes into the production of the tour’s live stream. Done through a semi-live production, the stream allows poker fans at home to keep abreast of happenings through the Sunbet website and YouTube site. Events are also recorded for later viewing on YouTube, allowing access to past games which players often use to study their opponents.  

The focus of the live stream is on the main table, with six pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras employed to follow the action. These are controlled by the production team working behind monitors and production desks in another room. The interesting part is that the production team only has access to the main table’s feed 30 minutes after the action has taken place. This is to ensure that no information can somehow be relayed to players at the table, important since the crew has access to the players’ hands, with all cards RFID chipped to identify them.

The producer of the stream makes the call to what cameras are used to ensure the best viewing experience for those at home, with a number of further enhancements contributing to the stream. From what we’ve seen, this is an intensive job from a five man crew, requiring intense concentration from the crew to follow these sessions but also a clear understanding of the game of poker itself to ensure a clear viewing experience for viewers at home.

However, the job of understanding the ins-and-outs of the game also falls squarely on the shoulders of the two commentators sitting in front of the tournament hall. They are the final part of the live-stream puzzle, and arguably also the most important when it comes to providing fans with the salient info needed when the event is streamed to audiences. 

According to SunBet CEO, Simon Gregory, the 2024 Tour is set to build on the incredible successes of the opening two years. “Our aim was always to deliver a proudly South African Poker Tour and experience that can stand alongside any global event, and we have been able to do that. The level of interest in the game of poker has exploded and we are thrilled by the extremely high standard of play which bodes well for the future of not just the Sunbet Poker Tour, but the game as a whole.” 

The Tour is open to anyone with a Sun International MVG card which can also be activated on the day of the event. Aspirant players can also qualify through a series of satellite qualifying events where a player can win an entry into a bigger buy-in event for a fraction of the prize. The 2023 Time Square main event was won by professional poker player Giovanni Zanette, who walked away with a cool R2 Million. However, Alan Jung, who came second to bag R1 Million, is a recreational player from KwaZulu-Natal who had entered and won a satellite event to gain access to the Time Square event.

“We have such an amazing cross section of players in terms, from professionals to new-to-the game players, but the format of the SunBet Poker Tour makes room for players of all levels as we seek to grow the game locally,” Gregory concludes.


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