Stan’s Lists – Poker Television Shows


[RR] Roderick the Rock reflected, “Do you guys remember the Golden Era of Poker TV?”

[LL] “Oh sure”, Leroy the Lion confirmed. “Around 2006, you couldn’t channel surf without running into a poker show.”

[SS] “Networks that didn’t seem to have any reason to show poker had regular shows”, Stan the Stat claimed. “Bravo, the Travel Channel, the Game Show Network…”

[RR] “Oh, I don’t know about GSN. ESPN and other networks consider poker to be a ‘sport’, but isn’t it more like a game show?1 Especially a poker tournament, which is a game where players compete in turn. The dealer and the commentators play the role of host. One winner gets the big prize, while the losers settle for consolation prizes.”

[LL] “The runner-up consolation prize is usually much better in poker though.”

[RR] “Is this another one of your lists, Stan?”

[SS] “Of course it is.”

Poker Shows on U.S. Television2

Show (Wikipedia link) Network Years (IMDB link) Location3 Commentators Notes
World Series of Poker CBS;
Discovery Channel;
ESPN
1978-81, 1983;
1999-2001;
1987-95, 1997-98, 2002-
Binion’s Horseshoe (1978-2005), Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino (2005-) Lon McEachern and Norman Chad (2002-); see Wikipedia’s broadcasters list for others Event began in 1970
World Poker Tour Travel Channel;
GSN;
Fox Sports Net4
2003-07;
2008-09;
2009-
various worldwide casinos Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten Tour began in 2002
Heartland Poker Tour syndicated 2005- various U.S. casinos Fred Bevill and Chris Hanson Tour began in 2005
National Heads-Up Poker Championship NBC 2005-11, 20135 Golden Nugget (2005), Caesars Palace (2006-) Matt Vasgersian and Gabe Kaplan Final Four bracket-style tournament
FullTiltPoker.net Aussie Millions GSN 2006-11 Crown Casino (Melbourne, Australia) Michael Konik, Howard Lederer, Barry Tompkins Event began in 1998
High Stakes Poker GSN 2006-11 Golden Nugget (2006, 2009-10), Palms Casino Resort (2006), South Point Casino (2007), Bellagio (2011) Gabe Kaplan (2006-10), A.J. Benza (2006-09), Kara Scott (2010-11), Norm Macdonald (2011) Show ended in 2011 when sponsor PokerStars was banished from the U.S.
Poker After Dark NBC 2007-11 South Point Casino (2007-08), Golden Nugget (2008-10), Aria Resort and Casino (2011) Ali Nejad Show ended in 2011 when sponsor Full Tilt Poker was banished from the U.S.
The PokerStars.Net Big Game Fox 2010-11 South Point Casino Joe Stapleton, Scott Huff, Chris Rose, Amanda Leatherman Show ended in 2011 when sponsor PokerStars was banished from the U.S.
Doubles Poker Championship GSN 2010 Golden Nugget David Tuchman and Brandon Adams Four-team single-table tournament, where each two-person team takes turns on alternating streets (one 30-second timeout to confer per event); $50,000 buy-in per player; 32 players including Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Johnny Chan, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, Mike Matusow, Annie Duke, Annette Obrestad, David Benyamine, Antonio Esfandiari, Howard Lederer, Phil Laak, and Andrew Lichtenberger; 13 episodes
Ultimate Poker Challenge syndicated 2004-07 Plaza Hotel and Casino Chad Brown and guest presenters Satellites then semifinals and finals
Mansionpoker.net Poker Dome Challenge Fox Sports Net 2006-07 Tropicana (2006), Neonopolis shopping mall (2006-07) Barry Tompkins and Michael Konik Speed poker tournament with 15 seconds per action (one 30-second extension and if used, one more heads-up)
Pro-Am Poker Equalizer ESPN 2007 South Coast Casino Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad 36-player shootout with each table starting with four pros and two celebrity amateurs, who start with 50% more chips; the celebrities were Jose Canseco, Cheryl Hines, Yancey Arias, Nicholas Gonzalez, Penn Jillette, Jennifer Tilly, Cindy Margolis, Jeremy Sisto, Don Cheadle, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Alexander, and Shana Hiatt; spoiler (highlight to see): Gonzalez was the only celebrity to reach the final table; Andy Bloch won, and Allen Cunningham came in second place.
United States Poker Championship ESPN 1997-2000, 2003-06 Trump Taj Mahal (Atlantic City, NJ) Lon McEachern and Norman Chad Event last played in 2010
Celebrity Poker Showdown Bravo 2003-06 Palms Casino Resort Dave Foley and Phil Gordon 25-player shootout tournament with all celebrities
Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament Fox Sports Net 2004-06 Golden Nugget Chris Rose and Howard Lederer Turbo tournament with 20-minute blind levels; Season 2 in IMDB and Season 3 in IMDB
Professional Poker Tour Travel Channel 2006 various U.S. casinos Matt Corboy and Mark Seif Part of the WPT (sort of an all-star game); merged back into main tour after one year
Calvin Ayre’s Wild Card Poker Fox Sports Net 2006 The Compound [Calvin Ayre’s residence] (Costa Rica) Chris Rose and Robert Williamson III Calvin Ayre founded Bodog in 2000
Poker Royale GSN 2005 Pechanga Resort and Casino (Temecula, CA) John Ahlers and Robert Williamson III Series of themed poker tournaments; Another episode on IMDB

[SS] “At the peak of the poker boom, you could watch a dozen different poker shows every week!”

[RR] “And now we’re down to just three.”

[SS] “The Game Show Network alone seemed to fill up most of the week with episodes of High Stakes Poker.”

[LL] “I think they replaced them all with Family Feud.6 At least until the next poker boom.”

[SS] “All we need is for a woman to win the World Series of Poker Main Event.”

[RR] “Or a celebrity.”

[LL] “Even making the final table might do the trick.”

[RR] “It’s probably just as well though. Watching poker on TV really isn’t the best way to improve your game.”

[SS] “Yeah, most shows edit out all the previous hands you needed to see to understand what’s really happening in the current hand.”

[LL] “But, it’s still entertaining!”

[RR] “Speaking of which, what about celebrity poker shows?”

[SS] “Oh, I have a separate list for those…”

Update – July 29, 2014

Poker Night in America debuted on the CBS Sports Network on June 29, 2014 and will air on 26 consecutive Sundays at 10 p.m. The show does not have an IMDB or Wikipedia entry yet.

Footnotes:

  1. A game show is “a television or radio program in which contestants answer questions or play games of skill or chance in order to win money or other prizes”, according to Dictionary.com.
  2. The table is sorted by recency. Tap on the header to sort by any column. You need to view the post by itself for this to work. {Added Doubles Poker Championship on 3/19/14.}
  3. All locations are in Las Vegas, Nevada unless specified otherwise.
  4. NBC also aired one “Battle of Champions” tournament on February 1, 2004.
  5. The NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship was also cancelled in 2014 but may return next year.
  6. Apparently, this is Family Feud marathon week. According to the GSN schedule, 172 (!) families are feuding this week [yes, an astonishing 86 half-hour episodes, over a quarter of their air time].

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