For poker fans from around the world that have been suffering from a televised poker deficiency, the World Poker Tour has a cure. Season Four of the Tour makes its debut on the Travel Channel on Wednesday, March 8th. From 9-11PM (Eastern Time), what has become "Poker Night" for many poker aficionados will once again be filled with huge bets, massive bluffs and the awarding of truckloads of cash from the seventeen tour stop over the last eight months.
In what has been perhaps the greatest season of the WPT, over $100 million in prize pools have been divvyed up by some of the best poker players from around the world. The Tour has created two dozen new millionaires through the stops on the tour, which kicked off in May 2005 with the Mirage Poker Showdown at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and will be the premiere episode on March 8th. Not only has the draw of the cash been a point of interest for viewers, but there is still that fascination for players to put themselves in that position and think "what would I do?".
"Americans see in our shows the fulfillment of their own dreams," said Steve Lipscomb, CEO and Founder of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "Viewers watch for the sheer dramatic entertainment of the WPT, but they are also captivated by the promise of overnight riches that our players dangle before them. If a 21-year-old can do it, why can't they? It's a voyeuristic fantasy that viewers can indulge themselves in and for the first time in the history of televised sports entertainment, they can even try themselves at one of our WPT events."
Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten return for Season Four and are joined by a new host. Shana Hiatt left the program after Season Three and has been replaced by Courtney Friel, who is looking to bring a great deal to the program with her own particular charm and beauty. Courtney will entice viewers with introductions to the beautiful and exotic locales featured on the WPT and will also interview the winners and the Final Table challengers. In a departure from the past, Courtney will also dive into the stands for comments from poker stars and the fans in the audience.
The competition on Season Four has probably been the greatest since the inception of the WPT. While not only increasing the prize pools tenfold since Season One, the current Season Four Final Tables have featured some of the greatest names in the game reflecting the past, present and potential future of poker. Longtime poker veterans such as former World Champions Doyle Brunson, Dan Harrington and Scotty Nguyen lead the list with a host of other professionals that cross borders, genders and age ranges represented by Gavin Smith, Juha Helppi, Kathy Liebert, Jennifer Tilly, Isabelle Mercier, Freddy Deeb, Patrik Antonius, Phil "The Unabomber" Laak, 21 year old online whiz Nick "The Takeover" Schulman and current POY leader Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi all making a Final Table during the run of Season Four.
When Season Four wraps up with the WPT Championship sometime in August of this year, new poker will still be on the Travel Channel in the same slot. After the WPT Championship, the Professional Poker Tour will begin its Season One run. These are the "all star" events that poker viewers have expressed a desire to see, as the professional poker stars who compete in these events have to qualify to be eligible for them. 2006 promises to be chock full of poker excitement when the World Poker Tour and the Professional Poker Tour return to the Travel Channel from 9-11 (Eastern Time) on March 8th. For a look at the full schedule, be sure to visit worldpokertour.com to learn more.