A hectic summer might coming to an end, but “Poker Night in America” shows no signs of slowing down as we enter the first week in September.
The PNIA production crew is currently busy editing footage from four different film locations, spread throughout the United States. We filmed 11 days within the past six weeks, which should provide an absolute treasure trove of poker action, including some of the most notable players in the game who appeared on “Poker Night in America” for the very first time, Daniel Negreanu foremost among the fresh faces. The film crew shot action in Las Vegas (private home game), Upstate New York (Turning Stone), South Florida (Seminole Hard Rock — Hollywood), and Minneapolis (Canterbury).
Our next planned filming locations are expected to be two returns to a couple of our favorite poker destinations over the past few years. From mid-November through early December, “Poker Night in America” expects to be at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA followed by another stop at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, FL. Exact dates and player lineups will be announced soon.
Now in the midst of Season 3, “Poker Night in America” continues to perform very well in the ratings. The weekly television show on CBS Sports has become quite familiar to viewers by now in its comfortable Monday eveing timeslot (10 pm EST / 7 pm PST), with shows repeated during other times in the week. Since this past Monday was the final non-pro football night of the fall (“Monday Night Football” will appear weekly from Sept. 14 until year’s end), we expect many poker fans who also enjoy NFL games will be firing up their DVRs and Tivo. Either that, or our most loyal fans will be recording the football game. Whatever works best for our viewers, “Poker Night in America” will continue airing every Monday night, which will include some of the best high-stakes cash game we’ve filmed.
Our most recent episode (titled “Big Baby,” first airing Sept. 7) showed highlights from the second day of action filmed at Maryland Live! last spring. Players included — Greg Mueller, Tom Schneider, Layne Flack, Phil Hellmuth, Shaun Deeb, Matt Glantz, Robert Williamson III, and Jessica Dawley (from 888poker). This was Dawley’s first-ever appearance on the show. The Florida-based poker pro has since become a regular face on PNiA, and has become one of the show’s genuine stars. This Monday’s episode featured Dawley, who won a private freezeout poker game held in the lobby of a nearby hotel. Her prize was getting to pick out baby clothes for the poker player know to throw tantrums — Phil Hellmuth. The 1989 world poker champion had previously lost his own freezeout match and as a penalty, had to wear baby clothes (bonnett, rattle, bib, and all) during much of the high-stakes poker game. No doubt, this was “must see” TV for Hellmuth’s fans and critics, alike.
The previous week (titled “Home Game,” first airing Aug. 30) included the identical lineup, with a special added bonus. The film crew was joined by Phil Hellmuth and Robert Williamson III on a short drive to the nation’s capital. The PNiA crew met and interviewed Texas congressman and avid poker player Joe Barton, who was quite generous with his time. Rep. Barton spoke approvingly of poker and noted his sponsorship of a bill in congress that would legalize and regulate online poker at the federal level. Former Nevada congressman Jon Porter was also interviewed, and gave much of his time in support of the movement to legalize poker playing. Interviews were also shown with John Pappas, head of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA). Then, Vin Narayanan, a noted poker historian, author and writer for the popular website CasinoCity.com also provided a short history lesson on the link between presidents and poker, from Ulysses S. Grant to Richard Nixon.
However, arguably the best moment of the D.C. visit and joant to Capitol Hill was sneaking into a private poker game, just steps from the halls of congress. Only a block from the House of Representatives office buildings and within sight of the famous capitol dome structure, a poker game takes place multiple nights of the week, attended by Republicans and Democrats alike. Staffers from both the House and Senate regularly play in the game, which is held at a secret location. Oddly enough, just as PNiA cameras were filming, a familiar faced walked by right out in front of the private poker game, none other than the former Vice Presidential candidate from the 2012 election, Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin. Rep. Ryan couldn’t be coaxed into the game, unfortunately. He had other things to do. Phil Hellmuth and Robert Williamson III did manage to get into the political poker game, and everyone had plenty of laughs.
Repeat programs are still lingering on the re-run schedule. You can still catch highlights from both day’s action filmed last November at the River’s Casino in Pittsburgh, which included yet another all-star lineup of big names, and even a few newcomers. One segment from the Rivers Casino broadcasts (first airing Aug. 24) included appearances by — Brian Hastings, Greg Merson, Russell Thomas, Tom Schneider, Robert Williamson III, Phil DePaulo, Phil Hellmuth, and Joe Butts. The other segment saw appearances by — Jennifer Tilly, Shaun Deeb, Greg Mueller, Gavin Smith, Andrew Hanna, David “ODB” Baker, Phil Hellmuth, David Eldridge, Matt Glantz, and Jack Schanbacher. Both continue to air in re-runs regularly.
Coming up next week will be more key hands and exciting moments from Maryland Live! and visits to nearby Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD.