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High stakes, high-profile poker players, high-octane atmosphere — you’ll find all of that in High Stakes Poker. This poker show started in 2006 on GSN and over the course of five years, it provided us with seven seasons and 48 episodes.

The show would have two co-hosts, AJ Benza and Gabe Kaplan, with Norm Macdonald replacing Kaplan for the final season. The hosts would commentate on the game, with Kara Scott interviewing the players from the poker room. The commentary helped viewers less familiar with poker rules follow the show more easily.

The series gained popularity by being able to gather around poker professionals who have made names for themselves in other poker tournaments. What made it a step above all other rival shows (such as NBC’s Heads-Up, Poker After Dark, and The Big Game) was its unique format and environment.

Show Format

Daniel Negreanu, one of the players who featured regularly, stated that GSN paid them $1250 per hour to participate in the show. They would tape entire seasons at once (usually in a 24-hour sitting) and then cut it into several episodes. However, their salary, which was later confirmed by Jamie Gold, was too low compared to how big of a risk each participant took.

In the beginning, the minimum buy-in was $100,000 with players often going over that mark by quite some margin. Negreanu and Brad Booth chipped in with $1 million on one occasion. As the series continued, the buy-in limits rose as well. For instance, in season 4, the minimum buy-in was $500,000 for a period, while throughout the entire following season, players had to chip in with at least $200,000. They would only play No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em.

What they actually organized was a cash game, where participants joined in a real money poker tournament. The chips represented real money, and they could play with dollars as well, with no need to convert them into chips. It was also not a freezeout, meaning that once they flunk out, players could return to the table with a rebuy-in of at least $50,000. Additionally, another distinction was that the blinds were at a fixed value, instead of progressively increasing as the game goes on. They’ve also combined tables with both professionals and amateurs, with best online poker sites rewarding their customers with a possibility to participate in the show.

Seven Seasons of Poker Mania

As we’ve already said, they taped each season in one casino in one or two sittings. The game would usually last for the whole day and then, they would divide them into episodes. They taped the entire show on the United States soil, changing casinos depending on the season. Here’s the list of casinos where they filmed the show:

  • Season 1: the Golden Nugget
  • Season 2: The Palms
  • Season 3: South Point Hotel and Casino
  • Season 4: South Point Hotel and Casino
  • Season 5: the Golden Nugget
  • Season 6: the Golden Nugget
  • Season 7: the Bellagio

All of these casinos are located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The major appeal of the show was the fact that they managed to attract the creme de la creme of the poker world. In season 1 alone, you could see gambling celebrities like Daniel Negreanu, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Eli Elezra, and Barry Greenstein. Later on, other poker magnates joined in on the fun, with the likes of Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman, and Tom Dwan becoming regulars. The series had gathered the largest following among all televised poker shows.

However, as you already know, this show stopped with production in 2011, so something must have gone wrong. In fact, PokerStars became the official sponsors of the series, which was a big no-no in the eyes of Full Tilt Poker. Therefore, all FTP-sponsored participants were forced to quit the show, removing many popular names from the show. This eventually brought an end to the series, with season 7 being the final one.

Famous Hands

High Stakes Poker gifted us some memorable moments where we could experience all the genius behind the decision-making of a seasoned professional in sticky situations. It also came up with some unexpected twists and upsetting wins. One of the most famous instances was when Dwan went head to head with Ivey.

Dwan is someone who’s famous for his aggressive game approach. In this instance, he was going up against one of the best at reading their opponents — Phil Ivey. The round started by Dwan reraising Laak to $24,000, which made everyone but Ivey fold. At this moment, Ivey’s holding a Six and an Ace of Diamonds, while Dwan has 8-9 of Spades.

On every street, cards were going more and more into Ivey’s favor, but it didn’t stop Dwan from raising each betting round. This made Ivey suspicious and you could see he struggled to read Durrrr. In the end, Ivey had a pair of Sixes after missing out on a Flush and a Straight. But, Ivey wasn’t aware that he raised the pot up to $676,900 with just a 9-high. Ivey folded, granting Dwan the satisfaction of bluffing his way to over half a million dollars.

Other high-stake situations include Negreanu losing $380,000 in two consecutive hands, both to Mike Matusow. In season two, Gus Hansen won just above half a million in a single pot, showcasing how big the stakes will be in this show. The highest pot in a single hand went to Tom Dwan, who won $919,600 against Greenstein.

High Stakes Poker Videos

In August 2018, the showrunners decided to make all the episodes available on their YouTube channel, previously removing them from different uploaders. Videos regarding this show are valuable to anyone who intends to learn how to improve their skills.

There’s no better way to be better at poker than to watch how the pros play out specific situations. Apart from that, there are also tutorials and interviews with the participants, which will also help you along the way. Even if you’re not into playing poker by yourself, the professional commentary will guide you through the episode, making the show an enjoyable viewing even for other people.

What’s more, if you’re here looking for something to kill your time with, there’s also a special show, which is like a poker edition of MTV’s Cribs. Nothing motivates more than seeing how someone else is better off, right?

Now, with pokerace.tv, you’ll be able to find all these videos in one place with no need to search for them all across the Internet any longer. On our website, you’ll find the largest online collection of all videos of the show and related to it.

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