“Poker Night in America” enjoyed a wildly successful debut showing in early August with the first scheduled television production of what’s expected to be many future events.
Most of the filming took place in accordance with the 2013 Empire Poker Classic, a major poker tournament which was held at the Turning Stone Resort Casino, located near Syracuse, New York. The luxury property hosted the first-ever episode of Poker Night in America (PNIA), which focused primarily on two feature attractions — (1) the tournament’s Main Event Championship and (2) a big cash game with a buy-in of $5,000 (minimum) up to $20,000 (maximum).
Shooting concentrated on the cash game, which was a No-Limit Hold’em table comprised of 8 (and sometimes 9) players. Filming took place over a two-day period, held on a Friday and Saturday. Shooting also included the entire championship final table, which was played on a Monday. Action lasted about eight hours each day.
The debut of this exciting new elevision series attracted a virtual who’s who of tournament and live poker. Since there were far more poker players interested in playing in the game than seats were available, two separate sessions were scheduled and filmed accordingly The first day included 8 players, plus 2 alternates (who were seated late during the game). The second day included 8 (and sometimes 9) players, plus 3 alternates. Players unanimously agreed to add a ninth seat to the game on the second day.
The production also included more than a dozen close-up player interviews, filming in and around the Turning Stone property, a welcome party that went all night, and a memorable golf match during the final day which drew 22 golfers bombarding the course with golf balls (the PNIA players and crew were the last golfers to tee-off, so no one would be stuck behind the 22-some). Rumor has it there was some occasional side action on the golf course.
Even that didn’t include the entire picture as the PNIA gathering also included crowded late-night Chinese Poker games in the hotel lobby (all three nights) and a grand farewell steak dinner, which affectionately became known as “The Last Poker Supper.”
Then, there was the road to and from Turning Stone, which for most players meant flying first-class on a private jet from Las Vegas.
PNIA plans to include assorted film footage from the Turning Stone events into two separate television shows. One will be a one-hour length feature which will show poker and its players behind the scenes. The second will be a much lengthier poker series, which allows viewers to watch and follow the action as though they were sitting in the cash game and playing along.
Check back here regularly for the latest news and updates — including announcements about future events and broadcasts.