The Game Show Network has been one of the better stops for specialty television poker tournaments throughout 2005. The 'Poker Royale' series has featured many of the biggest names in the poker world, be it in a serious competition between professionals (such as the 'Battle Of The Ages' or the now-defunct WPPA Championship) or a more entertaining setting (professionals going up against comedians and actors). Come 2006 however, GSN will be making a move towards the more "traditional" and higher stakes poker that constitutes the game today.
In many casinos, it isn't in the high profile tournaments that players make their money. It is through grinding it out in the ring games, whether at the lowest limit levels or in high stakes mixed games or no-limit. GSN is recognizing this by bringing the first "ring game" action to television with "High Stakes Poker" set to debut on the network come January 16th, 2006 at 9PM and continue over the next three months (a thirteen episode run).
The Game Show Network isn't hesitating on bringing the biggest names in the game today for this one! Each player in the game has to bring the minimum of $100,000 to be able to sit at this table and the names that will be playing in the event reads like a Who's Who in poker today. Expect to see poker legends Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan step up with their bankrolls and take on other cash game specialists such as Jennifer Harman, Barry Greenstein and Todd Brunson. In all, nineteen of the best in the world will play not for a tournament championship but for the true measuring stick in poker, the size of their bankrolls.
"For the first time ever in the history of poker on television, viewers will see players playing with very large amounts of their own money," said Henry Orenstein, the Executive Producer of "High Stakes Poker". "This is what makes it exciting, the players can win huge pots that are worth nearly a half million dollars on a single card." Rich Cronin, the President and CEO of the Game Show Network, was quick to point out the difference between this and previous GSN broadcasts. "High Stakes Poker is groundbreaking in that it is the first-ever look into the biggest private no limit Hold 'Em cash games in town," said Cronin. "This show is intense because players are winning and losing hundreds of thousands of their own dollars on single hands."
The cash game has been called the true version of poker due to the fact that players are allowed to rebuy and continue playing with more money if they lose their initial buy-in of $100,000. The chips on the table represent actual dollars compared to chips in a tournament that don't equal the actual value of what is bet. The intensity is taken to a higher level when someone raises $50,000 or $100,000, which is more than the average American's yearly salary in one hand.
Calling the action from the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas will be the broadcast team of A. J. Benza and Gabe Kaplan. Kaplan, best known in the past for his comedic talents and his television series "Welcome Back, Kotter", is an exceptional cash game player himself who made a final table at the 2005 World Series and has also made the final table on the WPT. Kaplan has played with every one of the professionals at the tables for this event so he should be able to provide solid commentary and analysis on the participants and their actions. Benza, a popular and controversial columnist in New York and host of several other television programs, is serving as the host for the program.
This is going to be one of the first great treats of 2006. While some may have dropped away from the "Poker Royale" broadcasts as of late, this is a quality effort that should bring back many as millions of dollars cross the tables on "High Stakes Poker" on GSN. Be sure to check out the premiere of the event come January 16th, 2006 and see how poker is played at the highest professional levels.
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