Doyle Brunson. Daniel Negreanu. Tom Dwan. Patrik Antonius. Hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line. A chance to see their every move. On Sunday, the wait is over.
The fifth season of High Stakes Poker debuts Sunday night on Game Show Network at 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CST). The popular poker show features the game’s best players as they put up at least $200,000 of their own money in the richest regular cash game on TV.
“This is the real thing,” said Mori Eskandani, executive producer of HSP. “This is what poker is all about.”
High Stakes Poker has been a staple of GSN since the first season aired in January 2006.
“For me, this program is a signature of the network,” said Mike Bevan, vice president of original programming at GSN.
Bevan remembers when the show was first conceptualized. He was having dinner at Bellagio with a few colleagues, and Johnny Chan had come up to them and told them that he had just lost a monster-sized pot in a cash game to Phil Ivey. After he left, he realized they had a great concept for a new show.
“When [Chan] walked away, we said, ‘Oh my God, that’s an amazing thing,’” Bevan said. “It’s not like a tournament where you lose your buy-in, you’re losing 10 times that much.”
In the fifth season, all players must put up a minimum of $200,000 of their own money to play in the game. It’s the highest minimum requirement the show has ever had to start its series.
Last season, one of the cash games toward the end of the season featured a $500,000 minimum, and HSP executive producer Mori Eskandani said that players can set higher limits this season as well if they want to. He said the one problem they saw with the half-million minimum is that players never really loosened up.
“Half a million made the game tighter. There was less action,” said Eskandani. “If you let the players decide what they’re comfortable with, you’ll have a better game.”
There is plenty of action this time around, as some of the world’s greatest gamblers try to out-play each other for the cash — and quite possibly, for the cameras.
The fifth season will focus many of the game’s biggest names — including Brunson, Negreanu, and Howard Lederer — as well as some of poker’s biggest young stars, like Dwan and the reigning World Series of Poker main-event champ, Peter Eastgate.
Many more poker professionals were also scheduled to join in on the action, including Dario Minieri, Phil Laak, Eli Elezra, Joseph Hachem, Antonio Esfandiari, Barry Greenstein, and David Benyamine.
Archived episodes of the World Poker Tour and previous episodes of HSP will air on GSN before the season premiere on Sunday.