Today, News Ltd’s Nick Papps revealed plans for Crown Casino to host an
$80 million poker game in July next year, with Aussie Joe Hachem being
courted to invest the $13.3 million each player must apparently stump
up to take part.

It’s probably the richest winner-take-all sporting prize ever, if
you’re actually prepared to accept that a bunch of guys chomping
peanuts, wearing their sunglasses upside down and holding playing cards
is actually a sport, and therefore stands comparison with the first
prize for the Melbourne Cup ($3 million), rather than being rated
against the world’s bigger lotteries.

Predictably, the News Ltd article
had a Crown spokesman saying: “This is going to give Crown and
Melbourne a huge international exposure.” It reported that the game
would be telecast into 100 million American homes, via Fox Sports
Network, and on Channel Nine in Australia.

Well, we’re not so sure.

For a start, USA Today’s reporting
of the event today (after outlining bizarre plans for a pokerdome with
separated players, one-way glass, computer-chip cards and other truly
surreal gimmicks) doesn’t mention Crown, or Melbourne.

The report said: “(Fox Sports Net executive vice president George)
Greenberg said sponsor Mansion, a Gibraltar-based online gambling
company, also will get a big ‘brand awareness’ show July 12 at an
Australian casino, where six players put up $10 million apiece – winner
take all. Greenberg says he has three entrants, whom he declined to
name, and the event might be on the Fox broadcast network.”

So, it might be televised, but no promises. And the whole thing is a
brand awareness exercise for some Gibraltar-based internet gambling
site. In other words, the only sure thing is that Packer’s tame network
comes to heel at the Crown party, as always.

Excuse us if we don’t bracket this one with the Australian Open tennis
and the Boxing Day Test as a national sporting highlight just yet.