Late-night poker programming featuring some of the biggest names in the game? That's what's on tap when NBC rolls out its newest poker entry, 'Poker After Dark.' Currently slated for a kickoff on Jan. 2nd, 2007, at 2:05 a.m. ET/PT, the show promises a stable of poker horses to rival anything on television. Among the players already signed up are Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Erick Lindgren, Jennifer Harman and Gus Hansen.
The show will air six nights each week, running Monday through Saturday, with the first five nights of the six devoted to coverage of each week's $120,000, winner-take-all no-limit Texas Hold'em tournament. Each Friday episode culminates with the winning of that week's event, and on the sixth, the Saturday show, host Shana Hiatt and that week's tourney winner will take part in a 'director's cut' recap, highlighting the most important moments of that week's poker, and offering insights and strategy on what the players --- or at least the winning player --- had in mind as the key hands unfolded. The events will rotate among the back poker rooms of many of Las Vegas's most famed casinos, offering the casual fan a glimpse at what a real casino cardroom looks like, away from the bleachers and media circus that defines larger tournaments.
According to Scott Houston, one of the media liaisons for the show, the $120,000 prize pot battled for each week is contributed by the players; each of that week's six contestants contributes $20,000 to the pool. While it's still unknown as to any appearance fees the players may receive, helping to offset the $20,000 buy-in, the high skill of the players and their familiarity with one another guarantees that poker plays of all types will find their way into the mix.
The securing of Shana Hiatt for 'Poker After Dark' hosting duties is another piece of the tale. Hiatt, the original hostess for the first three seasons of World Poker Tour broadcasts, was contacted by NBC executives about hosting some poker programming for them. When Hiatt attempted to sign on with NBC for 'Poker After Dark,' the WPT cited non-compete and exclusivity clauses it claimed it had in Shana's severance agreement in an attempt to keep Hiatt from joining NBC. Hiatt sued the WPT and founder Steve Lipscomb to allow her to take the NBC job. The original WPT action may have kept Hiatt from being onboard with NBC in time for the second National Heads-Up Poker Championship, and hints at the bad and possibly personal blood that may have been at the root of Hiatt's exodus from the WPT; Hiatt was formerly married to a brother of WPT co-host Vince Van Patten.
Within the past two weeks, however, Hiatt has succeeded in having the WPT non-compete clause overturned, freeing her up for hostess duties on 'Poker After Dark,' and likely, next year's National Heads-Up Poker Championship as well. According to a recent Wicked Chops Poker report, "Hiatt obtained a temporary restraining order 'enjoining and restraining [WPT and its representatives] from seeking to prevent or prohibit [Hiatt] from seeking employment with NBC in connection with appearances in two poker-themed television shows by claiming or asserting the existence of a non-competitive or other exclusivity agreement.'"
Ed note: Play poker after dark at Mansion Poker, or any other time you like for that matter.