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High Stakes Poker Update

Mori Eskandani and Kevin Belinkoff of GSN Sit Down with Card Player TV

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Although filming for High Stakes Poker has yet to begin and the venue and players have yet to be chosen, Vice President of Original Programming and Development for GSN Kevin Belinkoff and President of Poker PROductions Mori Eskandani sat down with Card Player TV to ensure that the network's highest-rated show will be back for Season V. The interview with Eskandani and Belinkoff can be found at CardPlayerTV.com.

The show's enormous popularity stems from it's one of a kind cash-game format, where some of the best players in the world sit down and square off with hundreds of thousands of their own dollars at stake. Rumors had been circulating for months about the show's future, and whether or not GSN would pick it up for it's fifth season after allowing the WPT contract to expire on May 24. Very late in the game, the decision was made to bring the show back, despite the collapse of a "poker night," which featured the one-two punch of not only High Stakes Poker, but the World Poker Tour, as well. The WPT has recently found a new home on the Fox Sports Network for Season VII.

As always, due to the unpredictable nature of professional poker players, details for the upcoming season were hard to come by. Players don't always keep their commitments and are sometimes not able to come up with the bankroll to play, so a lineup of stars for the upcoming episodes wasn't readily available. The network said, however, that they were looking for young, compelling players who could showcase their skills in a professional, albeit entertaining way.

Eskandani fielded more questions about the rumors, including whether or not we would see pot-limit Omaha make its first appearance of the series. "It's still High Stakes Poker, it will still be no-limit hold'em," said Belinkoff. "We always look to change the game up, look for different things we can do with the game, different players, but at the end of the day, it will still be the same cash game that everyone knows. We kind of let the players do their own thing, so if they come up with other things, then we just let them have their way with it."

Historically, the players have sat down with at least the minimum buy-in of $100,000 and played a never-increasing structure of $300-$600 with a $100 ante. But in the past few seasons, the players have been showing up with more and more cash, sometimes buying in for $1,000,000. While the players will still dictate the action, Eskandani hopes to see the minimum buy-in increase to $250,000, allowing the blinds to increase to $400-$800.

The hands-off approach to the show has worked well for Eskandani, who also produces Poker After Dark on NBC, allowing the players to straddle, run the pot more than once, and even play the popular game within the game, Deuce Seven. In fact, the only intrusion that has ever affected the gameplay was when the network suggested that the players stop talking openly about the props that were being bet at the table. The banter at the table lacked continuity and often alienated the audience who didn't understand the side action in which bets were placed on what the board would bring.

 
 
 
 

Comments

Relentless
over 12 years ago

It's a dying shame HS doesn't film an actual high stakes game. Who doesn't want to see Sammy Farha play PLO? Or the interactions as they change games? HS is badly underestimating the poker savvy of their audience. NLHE was 5 minutes ago 10 minutes ago.

 
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JulioRodriguez
over 12 years ago

Relentless,

Normally, I would agree with you, but I too know what it's like to try and appeal to the right demographic. Whenever I write an article, I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not writing for the forum junkies who already know everything. I'm writing for the casual poker fan who wanders into a casino and picks up the magazine. The end result looks like it could be an underestimation of the audience, but the reality is that High Stakes Poker is trying to market itself towards a broader spectrum of viewers and those "other" games just don't work for that purpose. One can hope, though.

 
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a_better_way
over 12 years ago

What would be very interesting to see would be a 'real' high stakes game. Not that the seasons of High Stakes aren't real, but they're definitely made for TV and produced. That's not to say they're amazingly fun to watch and analyze. But what I mean is, a high stakes game that no regular person has access to, like the cash games that go on in the side rooms in the big casinos. To see pros and amateurs with money are definitely focused on the game and not about being on television. And so there's no way for this to happen without putting some kind of hidden camera in the room that nobody notices. And so, for several obvious and unnecessary to explain reasons, this would be impossible and not a decent thing to do. But, wouldn't it be amazing to see a game like this? Or maybe High Stakes on GSN is pretty much just like a big stakes cash game unseen from the public eye. That being said, watching High Stakes is really fun and informative. But, like Relentless says, it would be KILLER to see Sammy cut up an Omaha table.

 
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theguy045
over 12 years ago

'Live at the bike' is kind of like a hidden camera poker show. It's not necessarily nosebleed stakes, but the players aren't hamming it up for TV. It used to be free, but now it's a pay service. Or you can just go sweat the table from the rail at the bike yourself.

 
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Relentless
over 12 years ago

GetItFast--I appreciate what you are saying - so - I'd be interested in the ratings for the HORSE FT that aired Tuesday night. Maybe we don't need some poker variants, but a few rounds of HORSE? Could be just what the public is craving, too.

 
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