Isildur1 or not, the PartyPoker Big Game IV is a show that has got the poker community talking. The prospect of 48 hours of nonstop cash-game action in itself is a volatile format that will make for some entertaining and sick action. But what it will really stand out for is the mainstream showbiz additions to the proceedings, namely entrance music for all the players and Big Brother style evictions.
The first new twist, the entrance music, seems to have been well-received. An innovation that has proved a big hit in televised darts over here in London saw new additions to the game walking through the card-room floor to the music of their choice as the crowd cheers on. Some big cheers ensued as the first batch of players entered the club, and, to prove the format could be a winner, they chose to boo Luke "FullFlush" Schwartz. By contrast, the eccentric Neil Channing emerged to a chorus of cheers wearing a full karate suit he intends on wearing for 48 hours.
Assigning the role of pantomime villain to a polarizing figure like Schwartz and loveable joker too, Channing demonstrated the potential to make ready-made characters that a nonpoker audience can quickly access and get behind. Remember that for the most part, these new additions are not for the seasoned poker-playing audience; it’s for the mainstream audience who are just dipping their toes into TV poker and is designed to get them hooked — and so far it has a shot at working.
It was only a matter of time before a reality TV mainstay such as contestant evictions would find its way into poker. In the Big Game, this is done every six hours by a blind vote in which players write the name of the player they want out on a piece of paper and show it to their hole-card camera. Then to increase the tension, hostess Kara Scott will narrow down the potential evictees first to make them sweat before announcing who is busted.
In this case, it was Dusty "Leatherass" Schmidt who has the dubious honor of being the first-ever poker evictee. The common consensus would be that either the biggest threat or the biggest nit would be voted off and unfortunately for Schmidt he was ousted despite being more active than some and down £11,000. Although he has played over 7 million hands online, he hasn’t played any live cash before and despite not being the tightest player at the time, he was perceived as being pretty quiet. Neil Channing had played considerably fewer hands but because he was such a constant chatty presence at the table he escaped eviction. The ultimate insult for Dusty was that two of the players didn’t even know what his name was and simply wrote "seat 2." In game terms the wrong man may have gone, but in TV terms, it might have been right.
Of course, you don’t have to be voted off, and after some 12 hours, the lineup has almost had a complete makeover, with the exception of Channing and the incredibly loose David Viffer, who have vowed to play the full 48 hours if they can help it. Thus far, the lineup has been a very carefully chosen and eclectic mix of online pros, old-school live players, local legends, and emerging talent. Of course, the real action doesn’t start until it becomes way past our players' bed times, so make sure you check out our tweet updates from the event when that happens.
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