Popular Weekly Television Show on CBS Sports Network Wraps-Up Latest Film Production at Turning Stone Casino. Jennifer Tilly, Richard Roeper, Liv Boeree, Phil Hellmuth, Phil Laak, and Antonio “the Magician” Esfandiari among the Many Stars.
Verona, NY (August 21, 2014) – Poker Night in America has completed its latest full-scale production, wrapping up four exciting days of filming at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, in Upstate New York. This marked the second occasion that the popular new television show — which debuted on the CBS Sports Network in June 2014 – has taken place at Turning Stone. The first eight 30-minute episodes were filmed here last year, providing nine broadcast hours on national television for the host casino.
This year’s fun and festivities included an all-star lineup of poker players and celebrities. It also included the latest Empire State Poker Classic championship tournament, which attracted a record turnout. Action wasn’t just limited to the poker tables, however. In fact, some of the highlights included an impromptu guitar jam session onstage with one of poker’s most popular players, a roundtable discussion of the most popular poker movie scenes of all time with one of the most acclaimed movie critics in the nation, and the first documented crossover of the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” into the realm of poker.
Three days of a high-stakes cash game were filmed. Participants included – Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Richard Roeper, Phil Hellmuth, Antonio Esfandiari, Shaun Deeb, Liv Boeree, Gavin Smith, Andy Frankenberger, David Patent, Cindy Kerslake, Travell Thomas, Gina Fiore, Cherish Andrews, Doug Maverick, Dan Weinman, Matt Russell, and Joe DeGeorge. Show sponsor 888poker also provided two former World Series of Poker Main Event finalists, Jesse Sylvia and Jake Balsiger. The cash-game action was also streamed (unedited) in its entirety online, which attracted a large viewing audience.
An additional day of filming included the complete duration of the championship final table of this year’s Empire State Poker Classic, which drew the largest turnout in its history, with nearly 500 Main Event entries. That number is nearly twice the figure which participated just two years ago. The tournament was eventually won by Klajdi Lika, who went home with $115,430 for his efforts.
Of the many non-poker highlights, one of the most memorable was a live unrehearsed guitar jam session, which was played inside the Turning Stone Casino nightclub. A few hundred special guests were treated to British poker pro Liv Boeree’s first foray onto a music stage in more than five years. The first player from the U.K. ever to appear on Poker Night in America is a well-known aficionado of heavy metal, and she didn’t disappoint. Joined onstage by two members of the television production crew, Boeree launched into an ear-piercing and fist-pumping version of a Metallica cover song that left the audience yelling for an encore.
One of the most anticipated taping sessions at Turning Stone was a roundtable discussion of the greatest poker scenes in movies in history. Noted film critic Richard Roeper, who once sat across from late co-host Roger Ebert on At the Movies, dissected the cinematic poker hands from Rounders, Cool Hand Luke, Stripes, The Cincinnati Kid, and other film classics. The poker perspective was provided by Oscar-nominated actress and poker enthusiast Jennifer Tilly, along with Phil Laak, no stranger to drama or sharing his opinions. The trio made for one of the most interesting discussions filmed to-date on the show.
Then, there was the ice-bucket challenge, first prompted by the ALS Association, which seeks to find a cure and encourage awareness of the disease which has sadly impacted many lives. Poker Night in America became the first crossover challenge into gaming and poker when four brave individuals stepped into the cold and were doused by ice buckets out in front of the luxury casino (the initial challenge came from 888poker Marketing Director, Chris Capra). Moreover, two poker pros – Phil Hellmuth, Jr. and Antonio Esfandiari – were called out and accepted the challenge. They too, lent their support to the ALS initiative, which went viral online almost immediately.
Aside from poker, music, movies, and ice buckets, there was lots of fun elsewhere out on the golf course, in the bars and restaurants, and inside the poker room, which was packed much of the time.
Poker Night in America is sweeping the nation and making the game fun again. Additional filming locations will be announced soon. The weekly show appears on the CBS Sports Network on Sunday evening, starting at 10 pm EST. Shows are rerun the following Saturday night.