Poker Fans Delighted as ‘High Stakes Poker’ Makes Triumphant Return

  • Episodes will stream Wednesdays at 8pm ET on PokerGO
  • Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza have returned as on-air commentators
  • The largest pot generated on the original show was over $1.2m
  • “High Stakes Poker” originally debuted in 2006, ending after Black Friday in 2011
old TV with rabbit ears
“High Stakes Poker” debuted its first new episode on PokerGO Wednesday night, over nine years since its original run ended on Game Show Network.

Nearly a decade hiatus

“High Stakes Poker” has risen from the dead, airing its first new episode more than nine and a half years after its last. The revived show made its debut Wednesday night on Poker Central’s PokerGO subscription streaming service. PokerGO will broadcast episodes each Wednesday at 8pm ET.

Many of the fan-favorite players such as Tom Dwan, Phil Hellmuth, Jean-Robert Bellande, and Bryn Kenney will be back on the show, which is filmed at the Aria in Las Vegas. Also back are announcers Gabe Kaplan and AJ Benza.

There hadn’t been any rumblings about putting us back together.”

“That call came out of the sky,” Benza told Deadspin. “There hadn’t been any rumblings about putting us back together.”

Show creator and Poker Hall of Fame member Mori Eskandani wanted to start things back up earlier this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the works. Despite the pandemic, players will not wear masks at the poker table or aesthetic reasons and in order to make it easier to hear the table talk. Poker Central says that players are required to isolate in their hotel rooms before the show and pass a COVID test before playing.

Piles of cash

“High Stakes Poker” has produced some of the largest pots in the history of poker television. The biggest of them all occurred during Season 4, when poker pro David Benyamine and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté tangled. They were all-in after the flop (Sammy Farha was also involved, but folded), Benyamine with the nut flush draw and Laliberté with top two pair, the pot standing at $1,227,900. Laliberté offered to run it twice if Benyamine wanted, but neither the turn nor river cards were ever seen. After some discussion, the men agreed that Laliberté, the favorite in the hand, would win it along with the $238,900 that was in the pot before another million dollars in raises.

That same season, Farha and Patrik Antonius generated a pot of $998,800. They agreed to run the turn and river four times. Antonius won three of the four, so he won three-quarters of the pot.

The largest pot in a hand that completed as normal with no extra runs or deals was $919,600 between Dwan and Barry Greenstein. 2008 World Series of Poker champ Peter Eastgate originally raised pre-flop with A-K, Greenstein three-bet with A-A, and Dwan called with K-Q. Dwan hit top pair and a flush draw on the 4-2-Q flop, resulting in him and Greenstein eventually getting it all-in (Eastgate folded). The two men talked about possibly running it once or pulling some money back, but eventually just ran the rest of the hand as it was. A Queen hit on the turn, giving Dwan trips. The river bricked and Dwan scooped the massive pot.

Black Friday killed poker television

The show originally aired on the Game Show Network in January 2006. The first season was filmed at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. It moved to The Palms for Season 2, then South Point Casino for the next two seasons. It returned to Golden Nugget for Seasons 5 and 6 and finished up at Bellagio in Season 7.

Many of the most popular players on “High Stakes Poker” were sponsored Full Tilt pros. Because PokerStars was an official sponsor of the show in Season 7, Full Tilt prohibited its players from appearing on the program.

an immediate hit”

“High Stakes Poker” was an immediate hit. It set itself apart from competing shows because it was a cash game, not a tournament. Viewers also loved getting to hear the banter among the players, something that is reportedly very featured in the show’s new run.

When the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments against principals of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, UltimateBet, and Absolute Poker in April 2011 – known as Black Friday – online poker all but died in the United States. Because “High Stakes Poker” and other poker television productions were primarily sponsored by online poker rooms, most of them went away, as well.

Poker Central acquired the assets and brand of “High Stakes Poker” early this year.