Early thoughts on Poker Night in America

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Aug 08, 2013 Posted in Live Poker News, TV Poker | No Comments »

poker nightFrom what I have seen, heard, and read Poker Night in America appears to be a combination of a typical televised poker tournament and reality YV where the players are followed around away from the tables as well as at the felt.

So unlike past made for TV poker shows where the storylines were developed in-game (WPT, WSOP, High Stakes Poker, Poker After Dark, PokerStars Big Game) Poker Night in America seems to be building the storylines around the players first and then playing poker. As their most recent press release states: “this is the first program ever which shows what really goes on away from the tables and behind the cameras.”

Before I get into my commentary let me go through a quick rundown of the details that have been revealed so far.

The casting call for the show made no bones about what they wanted: Personality. Poker Night in America’s Nolan Dalla made this perfectly clear:

“We’ve already selected a dozen poker pros, including many names you will recognize. But we’re looking for some wild cards in this deck of jokers.

“Today, we are looking for a few additional players — more characters — for our new show. If you’re interesting, outgoing, and like to have fun, then we’re interested in you. If you wear sunglasses and headphones, and sit in silence, then forget it. We don’t want you on our show. Poker has enough of that dullness already.”

The “Wild Cards that were eventually selected were Kristy Arnett (who most people know as one of PokerNews.com’s live tournament reporters) and Lauren Billings, who will join the following poker players on a Gulf Stream Jet, with a camera crew in tow, taking them to the tournament at the Turning Stone Casino:

* David “ODB” Baker

* Shawn Buchanan

* Eli Elezra

* Layne Flack

* Phil Laak

* Mike “the Mouth” Matusow

* David Levi

* Greg “FBT” Mueller

* Tom “Donkeybomber” Schneider

* Gavin Smith

* David Williams

But this isn’t some freeroll for Arnett and Billings, they are not being staked by the show, and will not be treated with kid gloves by the announcers. Unlike past shows like the PokerStars Big Game, where amateur players were staked, to get on Poker Night in America you need to pay your own way, and it’s not a small amount of money either:

“You must be willing to buy into the cash game (No-Limit Hold’em with blind levels at $25-50) with your own money. The buy-in ranges from $5,000 (minimum) to $20,000 (maximum). We’ll leave that up to you. The point is — this isn’t a free ride. You’ve got to commit to playing.”

Other players that will be in attendance for the tournament and/or the televised cash-game include:

* Nick “Nicky Numbers” Brancato

* Shaun Deeb

* Mike Dentale

* Will “the Thrill” Failla

* Matt Glantz

* Darvin Moon

* Amanda Musumeci

* Greg Ostrander

* Dennis Phillips

* Dwyte Pilgrim

* Travell Thomas

So what do I think of the concept? It’s piqued my interest for sure, but the question with these shows always comes down to one thing: How will the producers edit-down the footage? I’m really not interested in seeing well-off and pretending-to-be-well-off people engage in credit card roulette and other absurd gambling; I want to see the “real” lives these players lead, not the fanciful depictions we usually get.

I like the mix of players, and I especially like that none of them are “kids” they are all people with poker and life experience. I suspect this was Nolan Dalla’s doing, and his involvement gives Poker Night in America legitimacy right off the bat.

You can find more information on the show at http://www.pokernight.com/


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