Early seasons featured $20,000 buy-in, winner-take-all sit and gos broadcasted in five hour-long episodes throughout the week. The sixth episode was a ‘’director’s cut’’ showcasing the best hands of the week with added commentary.
From season four onward, the Poker After Dark team experimented with other forms of poker — cash games, Pot Limit Omaha and bigger buy-in sit and goes. One of the most notable hands in the show’s history was a cash game pot between Tom Dwan and Phil Hellmuth, which Doug Polk reviewed on his YouTube channel.
Beyond the poker stuff, something that made the show memorable was the ‘‘Player’s First’’ approach to the commentary — Ali Nejad provides minimal commentary, and lets the table banter carry the show. (All the players were mic’d and most knew each other well.) This gave the show an almost home game vibe, but with high production values and play-by-play commentary.
Of course, the poker was a lot higher quality than the average home game. Poker After Dark regularly showcased big name pros like Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, Tom Dwan, the three big Phils (Hellmuth, Ivey, and The Galfond), Tony G and many more.
(Heck, f***in’ Chuck Liddell — the MMA fighter — was on the show once.)
Combining big name players with good banter and production values earned Poker After Dark a dedicated fan base. The show’s ratings were better than Craig Ferguson’s late night show at one point, despite airing an hour later into the night.
This show may have lasted for years to come, but unfortunately, it was sponsored by Full Tilt Poker.
After Black Friday, NBC ‘‘reevaluated’’ its poker programming and abruptly cancelled Poker After Dark, leaving 35 episodes unaired. These never-before-seen episodes surfaced on NBC Sports a year later, with the Full Tilt Poker promos sticking out like a sore thumb. It would’ve been an undignified end to a great poker series.
Luckily that wasn’t it! Poker Central and Poker PROductions will revive Poker After Dark as a PokerGO exclusive.
The format will change drastically, however. Instead of a long session divided into five episodes, the show will now stream live Monday through Wednesday. Additionally, Mixed Games will be added to the usual No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha rotation.
What Poker Central won’t change is the original’s ‘‘Player’s First’’ approach of minimal commentary and player banter.
Poker After Dark regulars Daniel Negreanu and Antonio Esfandiari are set to return, as is commentator Ali Nejad. Nejad will be joined in the commentator booth by Nick Schulman — who has joined Nejad in the booth for other PokerGO events.
PokerGO has faced heavy criticism for their coverage of this year’s World Series Of Poker. Subscribers publicly complained about the inadequate commentary and the scarce coverage of non-hold’em events. This could be seen as a step in the right direction for the streaming service.
Poker After Dark will stream live on August 7 at 4:00 PM EDT from the ARIA Casino on PokerGO.com. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m stoked for a steady stream of interesting hands like this:
Now we want to hear from you. What do you think of the Poker After Dark relaunch? Will it live up to the original? Let us know in the comments below.
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