Exclusive access behind the scenes of the best poker show on UK TV – Poker After Dark
Poker After Dark might be buried deep in the Challenge TV schedule in the UK, but if you’re a night owl, or you’ve got Sky+, you’ll know it’s the show for poker aficionados. Tossing the WPT highlights-reel approach aside, Poker After Dark shows every hand that’s played, and because of this, relies as much on the players and banter as it does on the poker.
This season the line-up is about as impressive as it gets, with heavy-hitters like Hellmuth, Ivey, Hansen, Negreanu and Brunson all gracing the felt, as well as young upstarts like Taylor Caby, Tom Dwan and David Benefield. Better yet, PokerPlayer was given exclusive access to the series, going behind the scenes and watching the action as it unfolded. We also met up with Mike Matusow, fresh from his first ever win on Poker After Dark (after 10 failed attempts!) and got his inimitable take on proceedings.
Filmed for the first time at the refurbished Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas, the new series features no shortage of highlights and must-see moments. It heralds Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan’s metamorphosis from shy duckling into confident media-friendly swan, answers the burning question of whether or not Phil Hellmuth really does have what it takes to be one of the best cash players in the world, and charts a regular day in Phil Ivey’s higher-the-better prop-betting life. Obviously we can’t reveal the results prior to broadcast in February next year, but we can give you a taste of the treats to come…
Season 5 – The Highlights
Cash Game ’Nets vs Vets’
Featuring: Taylor Caby, Cole South, Gabe Kaplan, David Benefield, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra
With three players of the CardRunners team in the game, whose combined age still falls short of septuagenarian Doyle Brunson’s, you’d expect them to give the veterans a run for their money. But after 10 hours of play it’s the internet phenoms’ stamina that’s visibly flagging. The Nets told producer Mori Eskandani beforehand that they believed the hours they’d clocked up playing six-handed online would give them the edge. Mori wasn’t so sure, ‘What do you think Doyle did all his life? When Doyle and Chip Reese got into a game, it was usually four or five-handed.’
Tournament ’Magnificent 6’
Featuring: Phil Hellmuth, Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu
Mori Eskandani is delighted to have brought such an acclaimed group of players together. ‘We could have called it “Magnificent Five – Plus Hellmuth” as Daniel Negreanu suggested! I think this heat is incredible – it’s the biggest name line-up we’ve ever had.’ It goes without saying that it’s Hellmuth who vies for maximum screen time, while Doyle Brunson’s got his own agenda: ‘I’ve yet to have a losing session on PAD, because I try to win while the rest are putting on a show.’ That said, he can’t resist trying to put one over on Phil Ivey. There’s clearly a bit of history between the two, as a playful Ivey doesn’t let him get away with anything, providing some of the show’s most entertaining moments.
Cash Game ’Railbird Heaven’
Featuring: Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, David Peat, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth
There’s no shortage of players wanting their 15 minutes on PAD, so when Gus Hansen wants a break, David Peat’s on standby to take over. He’s soon brought to his senses, though, as he slopes off set midway for an extended bathroom break via the green room. ‘Mori, you’ve never seen me back out of a poker game’, says Peat, ‘but I’m not in a hurry to get back!’
Phil Hellmuth isn’t having an easy time either, but the financial blows are softened as Hellmuth thinks that Johnny Chan’s got a piece of his action. The only problem is Chan’s changed his mind, which Phil finds out on camera several hundred thousand in the hole. Tilt!
Tournament ‘Sit ‘n’ Talk’
Featuring: Jennifer Harman, Mike Matusow, Antonio Esfandiari, Vanessa Rousso, David Grey, Jean Robert Bellande
Jennifer Harman’s confused as to why she’s among all the motormouths. ‘Where do I fit in? I’m quiet at the table. I think I’m going to wear ear muffs… to blank Mike Matusow out!’ Harman’s in for a pleasant surprise, though, as Matusow’s determined to stay quiet to concentrate on his game. It’s not surprising – winning on PAD became a personal crusade after he clocked up the worst record ever: 10 losses from 10 appearances. That all changed at the end of Season 4, though, when his new positive attitude reaped the ultimate reward.
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