THIS PAST AUGUST, the world’s all-time leading WSOP bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth defeated Upswing Poker pro Doug Polk and poker high roller ‘Jungleman’ Daniel Cates on his way to an epic Poker Night in America King of The Hill victory — walking away with $200,000 USD cash and the KOTH championship belt.
THIS WEEKEND, the Poker Brat gets his first shot at a title defense live from Rivers Casino Pittsburgh when he takes on Upswing Poker Lab coach Parker ‘tonkaaaaP’ Talbot in one of 2 semifinal matches to be broadcast on the @PokerNightTV Twitch channel starting Friday around 6:00pm Eastern Time.
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) October 6, 2017
— tonkaaaap (@tonkaaaap) October 5, 2017
Guess they wanted the finals for the first round https://t.co/Ekwb7mLlN5
— NiceShaunDeeb (@shaundeeb) September 27, 2017
— Olivier Busquet (@olivierbusquet) August 25, 2017
Upswing Poker Lab creator and 2017 WSOP High Roller for One Drop champion Doug Polk will anchor this weekend’s telecast as thousands of fans around the globe tune-in to see how live, heads-up No Limit Hold’em poker has evolved to become one of the most popular televised poker formats in the world.
— Rivers Poker Room (@RiversPokerPitt) October 5, 2017
Poker Night in America 2017: A Rich TV Poker Tradition
Poker Night in America has established a rich tradition of televised poker in 2017. Led by event organizer Matt Glantz, the show has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to the creativity of its crew, cast members, and hosting casinos — which have afforded high profile players an opportunity to showcase the game we all love in a zero rake format.
Doug Polk’s arrival onto the PNIA set alongside Hellmuth, Busquet, Deeb and Chicago businessman Jeremy Kaufman this past March attracted 4,300 fans who watched in awe as some of the biggest names in poker showed off their skills both on and off the felts.
One week later, GPI Female Poker Player of The Year Cate Hall steamrolled social media rival Mike Dentale in a heads-up match for $30k while approximately 10,000 fans spectated from their virtual seats.
However, the telecast experienced growing pains in April during a 7-handed show in Oklahoma when cast members were unable to set aside their real life differences for the benefit of viewers. This resulted in a ratings drop along with displaying how important player creativity and chemistry are to a globally-televised poker event.
King of The Hill Becomes Reality
At a time when PNIA decision-makers and cast personalities could have easily rested on their laurels (or worse — attempted to pass-off blame directly to the viewing public), Poker Night instead decided to innovate by creating the heads-up King of The Hill format while introducing an all-new REVEAL BUTTON that added yet another layer of strategy and entertainment to the program.
The move was a resounding success. Peak concurrent Twitch Poker viewership during the inaugural King of The Hill semifinals reached 12,500 with another 10,000 tuning-in for the KOTH Final — where Phil Hellmuth showcased his White Magic live read skills in an unbelievable come-from-behind victory against Jungleman Dan Cates.
Watch King of The Hill II Friday & Saturday
Four players will enter Rivers Casino Pittsburgh Friday with hopes of turning their original $50,000 investment into $200,000 — but only one player will walk away with the cash and title belt.
Fans can ensure a front row seat to the marquee event and participate via chat beginning at 6:00pm Eastern Time on the @PokerNightTV Twitch channel.
Poker enthusiasts who are in the immediate Pittsburgh area are invited to attend live and meet 14-time WSOP bracelet winner and former Main Event champion Phil Hellmuth Friday as the semifinal matches begin.
— Rivers Casino (@WinBigRivers) October 5, 2017
We look forward to the King of The Hill II matchups as well as interacting with the live PNIA audience this weekend!
SOCIAL MEDIA CONSIDERATION (TWITTER): @PokerNightTV, @RiversPokerPitt, @olivierbusquet, @tonkaaaap, @shaundeeb, @phil_hellmuth, @dougpolkpoker
Read more Upswing Poker content from David Huber:
David Huber (known as “dhubermex” online) has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade. He currently assists several poker and gaming entities as a researcher, writer, and consultant. Former Editor-in-Chief & Head Moderator of online tournament rankings site PocketFives (2006-2011).