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FIVE THINGS is a column, written by PocketFives President and Editor in Chief, Lance Bradley that covers pressing topics and current events in the poker world today. It appears periodically at PocketFives.com. When Poker Central announced two weeks ago that they had acquired the rights to the High Stakes Poker brand and archive from GSN, the poker world reacted with one unanimous emotion. Pure joy. High Stakes Poker, which ran for seven seasons from 2006 until it was cancelled in the wake of Black Friday in 2011, is probably the most beloved TV poker show in history, rivalled only by Late Night Poker. HSP, was different than anything that had come before because it was focused on cash game action, rather than tournaments and as the name suggests, the stakes got big. Real big. Adding HSP to the growing collection of poker content on PokerGO seems like a slam dunk and Sam Simmons, President of PokerGO/PokerCentral, is already teasing poker fans about what's to come. Knowing that the brain trust that now holds the keys to HSP is already thinking of what to do with the HSP brand, this edition of FIVE THINGS is dedicated to some ideas to help make the second coming of High Stakes Poker live up to the lofty expectations. Don’t Livestream It It might seem counterintuitive in 2020 to not livestream an hours-long cash game session. Most poker content, whether it's the Super High Roller Bowl, the World Series of Poker Main Event, or LIVE At The Bike is streamed live. High Stakes Poker holds a special place in the hearts of poker fans and the attachment that many have for HSP meant that it became appointment viewing. There’s no reason that can’t be repeated. The original HSP filmed 24 hours of action to get 13-17 40-minute episodes for GSN. Have players sign the appropriate non-disclosure agreements, film an entire session, and put together hour-long episodes. Release one or two episodes each week and build up the FOMO via social media. The poker world will be waiting with bated breath. Make New School Players a Priority It’s been just over eight years since the last new episode High Stakes Poker aired featuring the likes of Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, and Daniel Negreanu. Bringing some of those players back will give viewers the nostalgic tie-in to the original run but an impressive number of talented players have emerged as stars since then and getting them involved will be an important part of the evolution of the show. Producers will have a bevy of players to choose from. Nick Schulman, Dan Cates, and Prahlad Friedman somehow never appeared on the original run and would make great additions. There are also stars from the high roller tournament scene such as Kahle Burns, Jason Koon, Sam Soverel, Kristen Bicknell, and Danny Tang that viewers at home will recognize. Others who should be in the discussion include 2017 GPI Breakout Player of the Year winner Art Papazyan, Nick Petrangelo, Kym Lim, Chance Kornuth, Garrett Adelstein, Danielle Andersen, and Christian Soto. The magic, of course, comes from producers finding the right mix of the original cast and some of the newer stars who will help carry poker into the next decade or so. Allow yourself to dream of an eight-handed lineup that consists of Schulman, Koon, Cates, Brunson, Papazyan, Jason Mercier, Bill Perkins, and Haralabos Voulgaris. They've Got a Story to Tell Getting the new players into the game is only half of the battle. Giving viewers at home a reason to love - or hate - them is the other half. Mori Eskandani is a Poker Hall of Famer because he’s been able to take the magic of the game and the players playing it and make it feel accessible to those watching. The table talk in the original HSP was an important part of getting to know the players, but dedicating a few minutes of each episode to telling the backstory of the players in the game will also be an important piece of the broadcast. Every player has a story to tell and as more and more of them are told, viewers can become fans who become invested in the success and failure of players. They’re more likely to tune in if they feel like they are emotionally invested in one or two of the players. PokerGO’s other outlet, Poker Central, can also play a central role in giving all of the players - new and old - significant build-up in the lead up to each episode. Give the Great Game Some Run Every episode of High Stakes Poker has been No Limit Hold'em. It made sense. Most people who were watching poker at the time knew the game and it was easy to follow. Viewers who found it while channel surfing could quickly pick-up the basics and enjoy what they were watching. The PokerGO viewer is a much more advanced viewer than that. Sure, they still watch a lot of No Limit Hold'em, but they've also seen the growth in other games over the years and may have even dabbled in playing some of them. Changing things up a bit will be well received and PokerGO has done something like this before with PLOMG week on Poker After Dark in 2017. Having 3-4 episodes of Pot Limit Omaha with a lineup of PLO killers and you're going to get a different group of players to build buzz around. Phil Galfond, Jens Kyllönen, Ben Tollerene, Tom Dwan, and Ben Lamb would be an incredible lineup Who knows, maybe 'VeniVidi1993' comes out of anonymity to play? Maybe more importantly, as anybody who remembers the Rail Heaven days on Full Tilt Poker will tell you, PLO is a game that naturally leads to some big pots that will generate buzz on their own. New Blood in the Booth Over the seven seasons of the original run, the show had the likes of AJ Benza, Gabe Kaplan, and Norm MacDonald in the commentary booth. MacDonald’s hiring wasn’t exactly met with cheers from the loyal fan base but both Benza and Kaplan connected with the audience and did their best work by letting the table talk carry the show. There would certainly be some nostalgic reasons to get Kaplan or Benza - or both - back in the fold and have them steering the ship, but there's a better approach here. Give Jeff Platt the keys. Platt is a broadcast professional with a passion for poker and his work with some of PokerGO’s live-streamed events has shown he’s ready for and deserving of a bigger stage. HSP is that stage and poker fans would be richer for having him in the booth on this.
Poker Central has acquired the brand and assets for High Stakes Poker, the company announced on Tuesday, and will begin streaming episodes of the show on the PokerGO platform in the coming months. Additionally, Poker Central is said to have future plans for the series, including new episodes. "High Stakes Poker was a remarkable poker program," said Sampson Simmons, president of Poker Central. "With star players, massive pots, and memorable moments, the show beautifully conveys the drama of cash game poker. Bringing the existing episodes of High Stakes Poker to our platform and producing more in the future will enable us to recapture the nostalgia and magic of the show for our PokerGO subscribers in the present-day poker climate." [ptable zone="Global Poker Article Ad"][ptable zone="GG Poker"][ptable zone="Party Poker NJ"] High Stakes Poker took place from 2006-2011 and included seven seasons of high-stakes, cash game action during the height of the poker boom. Over its many seasons, the show was hosted by Gabe Kaplan, AJ Benza, Kara Scott, and Norm Macdonald, with Kaplan and Benza hosting together through the show’s first five seasons. The show’s success was propelled by the astronomical stakes of poker that were being played by superstar poker players and celebrities, oftentimes sitting behind huge bricks of cash and mounds of large denomination chips that became staples of the show. Notable players to appear on High Stakes Poker were Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Gus Hansen, Antonio Esfandiari, Sammy Farha, Phil Galfond, and Barry Greenstein. Brunson, Negreanu, Esfandiari, and Greenstein appeared in all seven seasons of the show. If you don't already have a subscription to PokerGO and are interested in watching High Stakes Poker, sign up today using the promo code "POCKET5S" for $10 off the PokerGO annual plan. Minimum buy-ins for High Stakes Poker ranged from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the season, and plenty of episodes featured millions of dollars at stake. During Season 4 of High Stakes Poker, poker pro David Benyamine went at it with celebrity businessman Guy Laliberte to create the largest pot in the show’s history, only it came with a plot twist. Largest Pot in High Stakes Poker History In a game with $300-$600 blinds and a $1,200 straddle, Farha started the action with a raise to $4,200 from under the gun with the [poker card="Ah"][poker card="3s"]. Benyamine made the call with the [poker card="Ac"][poker card="8c"] and Laliberte called from the big blind with the [poker card="Kd"][poker card="5d"]. The flop was [poker card="Kc"][poker card="5c"][poker card="3d"]. Farha picked up bottom pair, but it was the top two pair for Laliberte and nut flush draw for Benyamine that really made this hand explode. On the flop, Laliberte checked, Farha bet $13,000, and Benyamine raised to $43,000. Laliberte reraised and made it $168,000 to go. Farha folded and Benyamine, behind bricks of cash, stood up, contemplated the decision, and then moved all in for $600,000. Laliberte turned his hand over and thought about the decision before making the call. Laliberte first said to run it once but then the two players went back and forth on what to do. Laliberte had said that the money doesn’t matter to him and would do what Benyamine wanted. Laliberte eventually offered to just take the pot before Benyamine’s all-in raise, which Benyamine agreed to. High Stakes Poker also helped young guns such as Tom Dwan get immense exposure. Of course, it also helps when you play $919,600 pots against one of the game’s greats on television. Although the hand between Laliberte and Benyamine created the largest pot in High Stakes Poker history, the hand ultimately finished with a much cheaper result. The hand Dwan played against Greenstein in Season 5 was played to the fullest for more than $900,000 and it had a single winner. Playing $500-$1,000 blinds, Peter Eastgate raised to $3,500 with the [poker card="As"][poker card="Kh"] and Greenstein reraised to $15,000 with the [poker card="Ad"][poker card="Ac"] on the button. Dwan was next and made the call from the small blind with the [poker card="Ks"][poker card="Qs"]. Eastgate also called and the flop came down [poker card="Qh"][poker card="4s"][poker card="2s"]. Dwan fired $28,700, Eastgate folded, and Greenstein raised to $100,000. Dwan made it $244,600 to go and Greenstein moved all in for what was effectively $436,100 total. Dwan called and the pot ballooned to $919,600. Like the Laliberte and Benyamine hand, the question of how many times to run the board out came up. Greenstein said he wanted to run it once but asked if they wanted to take a couple hundred thousand back. Dwan declined and they were off to the races. The turn was the [poker card="Qc"] to vault Dwan into the lead with trip queens. The river completed the board with the [poker card="7d"] and Dwan was the winner of the biggest hand in High Stakes Poker history.