Action on “Poker Night in America” continued from the Sugar House Casino, in Philadelphia.

Following multiple episodes of “Ladies Night 2” in the preceding weeks, the first open session of cash games began with nine players, including three iconic larger-than-life personalities from the kitchens of South Philadelphia’s favorite comfort food — the sinfully delicious Philly Cheesesteak.

The poker game’s starting lineup was as follows (Seats 1-9):

Chad Holloway

Shaun Deeb

Tom Schneider

Tony Luke, Jr.

Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

Frank Olivieri

Dan Shak

Geno Vento

Alec Torelli


The first-ever “Battle of the Philly Cheesesteak Kings” hosted by Sugar House included Frank Olivieri, Geno Vento, and Tony Luke, Jr. who took the challenge.  Each competed for the last longer award among several poker professionals. With bragging rights and a nice trophy on the line, the cash game provided lots of laughs and several dramatic moments.

The broadcast also featured a Saturday morning recess when several PNiA staff, including our host Chris Hanson, paid a dutiful visit to all three of the famed Philly Cheesesteak grills. We learned that the Philly Cheesesteak was actually invented way back in 1930 at Pat’s King of Steaks, which still serves up great food to this day, and is open 24 hours. All in the cause of scientific research, Hanson conducted his own investigation on how the cheesesteak is created. Of course, he sampled the world-famous sandwiches, and by the end of the third visit had melted cheese dribbling all over his face.

Naturally, the cheesesteaks were a hot topic of discussion at the poker table, as well. By the end of the session, Frank Olivieri appeared to be ahead of his rivals. But everyone was survived the grueling lineup. The ”Battle of the Philly Cheesesteak Kings” will continue in the next episode.

Meanwhile, the big star of the day was unquestionably Chad Holloway, the PokerNews.com writer-reporter who was making his first-ever appearance on PNiA.  Proving he can play just as well as he can write, Holloway won a World Series of Poker gold bracelet three years ago in Las Vegas.  However, this was his first time to play in such a high-stakes cash game.  Holloway ended up holding his own, and then some.

Holloway’s moment of glory came when he was dealt K-K pre-flop and got it all in against Alec Torelli after the flop produced set over set. Holloway’s trip kings bested Torelli’s trop threes and doubled him up against the poker pro and online instructor. Holloway ended up scooping the $13,000 pot.

A short time later, Geno Vento took a tough beat when his K-Q made trip kings, which lost to Frank Olivieri’s full house.  Vento had K-Q against Olivieri’s 3-3.  The final board ran out K-J-3-K-6, which propelled Olivieri into the profit zone for the session, and left Vento low on chips.

14-time WSOP gold bracelet winner and 1989 world poker champion Phil Hellmuth, Jr. suffered a similar fate a bit later when he flopped a set, but couldn’t get the board to pair after Dan Shak hit a heart flush in the turn.  That felted Hellmuth, who was forced to re-buy.

The first Sugar House Casino cash game session concluded with Dan Shak (up $8,825) and Chad Holloway (up $8,125) as the two biggest winners.  The day was considerably tougher for Phil Hellmuth, Jr. (down $5,000) and Geno Vento (down $3,900).

Action continues from the Sugar House Casino with the next debut broadcast coming up on Monday, December 7th.  Only four more episodes remain in PNiA’s Season 2.  Then, it’s on to 2016 for Season 3 and an entirely new schedule with new venues and different lineups.

Finally, this past week, PNiA filmed its last two stops of the year — at The Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA and theSeminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL.  These episodes will air sometime next year.

‘Til next week….

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