On Friday, April 18th, the fourth season of NBC’s Poker After Dark concluded filming, and there are some changes in store for viewers when it begins airing during the week of July 14th. Those changes were announced so that fans can anticipate some of the new and unique aspects of the show.
The ten weeks worth of new episodes of Poker After Dark were filmed with the introduction of two new formats. In the past, all shows have been six-player freezeouts with the winner being awarded the entire prize pool, but this season’s shows will feature more heads-up play, as well as cash games.
One week of shows will feature a double elimination heads-up match between the four past winners of NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship – Phil Hellmuth, Ted Forrest, Paul Wasicka, and Chris Ferguson. Each player will buy in for $50,000 and compete for the $200,000 first prize.
There will be two weeks of shows that feature a $200-$400 no-limit hold’em cash game in which 12 players will buy in and play as they would in any poker room’s cash game. The players in one of those weeks will be Howard Lederer, Gabe Kaplan, Patrik Antonius, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, and Dee Tiller. The other week will feature Guy Laliberte, Phil Hellmuth, Tom Dwan, Allen Cunningham, Antonio Esfandiari, and Mike Baxter.
Something brought back from last season will be a “Dream Match” week, wherein an online qualifier – Paul Featherstone – will compete against five of his favorite players – Mike Matusow, Jennifer Harman, Phil Hellmuth, Gavin Smith, and Mike Sexton. Other themes for shows will include a week of all former Poker After Dark winners competing against Matusow, who has yet to win a title in eight tries, and a week of six well-known players who have made World Series of Poker main event final tables but have not won that championship event.
Another week of matches will include some of the most brilliant minds in poker – Bill Chen, Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Brandon Adams, Jimmy Warren, and David Sklansky. There will also be a “Mayfair Club” week with players who originally built their games in the famous New York City poker club. There will be a week of shows featuring successful internet players like Tom Dwan, Brian Townsend, and Andrew Robl competing against three of the best live players in the world – Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Huck Seed. And to round it out, another week will feature a “Speak Your Mind” set of shows where outspoken members of the poker community will put their cards where their mouths are.
One of the biggest changes viewers will note in the new season will be the introduction of a new hostess by the name of Leeann Tweeden, who replaces Marianela Pereyra. Some will recognize her from the current National Heads-Up Poker Championship airing on NBC, as she was the host of the 2008 shows. She has also been a reporter for FSN’s Best Damn Sports Show Period and Mansion Poker Dome series.
While the order of the shows to be aired on NBC has yet to be determined, they will begin being broadcast on the week of July 14th.