Poker in the United States has gone through a tumultuous few months after the government shut down online play, namely through popular sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Career poker players were scathed by the loss of income and were either forced to move on to other things, or have found live venues to maintain their livelihood. In the midst of this, the World Series of Poker 2011 was played out with fanfare, earning raves and high Nielsen ratings. It took a while for the sport to steadily grow in public esteem, but now poker is bigger, networks besides ESPN are ready to capitalize on it.

David Neal and 441 productions -- the guys behind World Series of Poker -- are set to produce Epic Poker League, a brand spanking new league positioned to launch in August. Epic Poker League is already in full swing: the launch will occur in Las Vegas, and they’ve already cornered Pat O’Brien to host. Now, they’ve lined up some networks to broadcast the coverage.

A good percentage of Epic Poker League’s play will occur on Discovery’s new Velocity Network. According to Deadline, Velocity will have exclusive rights to 13 hours of coverage and will be allowed to replay another seven hours of coverage planned for CBS. Twenty hours total doesn’t seem like a lot at this juncture, but the airing time on a major network like CBS is a huge deal, opening doors to a wider audience and better advertising. If poker needs to find a niche outside of the Internet, sports TV might be the best way to go.

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