Drama-packed live cast flies out of the gate.
#HashtagKing makes it rain. Gets felted by Shaun Deeb.
Brandon Cantu puts Deeb on “seven year” layaway plan. Poker fans react.
Friday marked the return of Poker Night in America as concurrent viewership peaked at over 4,500 fans who tuned-in to watch Upswing Poker featured pro Doug Polk, Shaun Deeb, Eric Wasserson, Salomon Ponte, Kyle Bowker, Brandon Cantu, Kelly Winterhalter, Mike Dentale and other high profile players compete against each other in a $25/$50 No Limit Hold’em cash game broadcast live from the Choctaw Casino Resort in Oklahoma.
The official PNiA stream began at approximately 3:50pm Central Time, and it only took a few moments for fans to realize they would be in for an evening of unique, drama-laden high stakes action that showcases some of the biggest names in United States poker.
This is literally like an old school poker game where people wager houses and cars ? @PokerNightTV
— Adam Levy (@Roothlus) April 22, 2017
TwoPlusTwo NVG Not Impressed
Judging solely by the numbers, Friday’s show was wildly popular; eclipsing last month’s opening-day cast by roughly 2,000 viewers. Yet as several key posters in the TwoPlusTwo NVG forum have pointed out, the hours’ long drama took precedence over almost all of the actual card playing, poker promotion, and general flow of live programming.
Inexperience of carrying a broadcast that is being watched by thousands in real time may have played a role in some of the drawn-out table banter. Like it’s one thing to whip out the old “scammers gotta pay” dialogue and pass it around the table for all to digest… yet another thing entirely to chew on it for eight hours without a resolution. Taking a live audience to Third Base on such a hot-button issue, and never rounding towards Home Plate meant that several opportunities to grow poker were missed by the live playing talent.
Separately, Doug Polk was on the receiving end of yet another one-way shouting match that didn’t conclude with a legitimate heads-up contest. This time it was Salomon Ponte (aka “Hashtag King”) who took 90 minutes out of his busy schedule to ply his trade, talk a ton of smack and attempt to get his gimmick over before moving on to hawking his wares upon being stacked by Deeb.
Doug perhaps enjoyed the benefit of having already thought about what works and what doesn’t from being prominently showcased a month ago; ceasing his involvement in the bitterness once it became obvious that the issue wasn’t being advanced… and a couple of the stars had exuded adequate indifference by that point. But apparently some of the other players at Friday’s TV table considered it appropriate to rest on their laurels instead of working to improve supporting skill sets, or at the very least studying-up for the live show.
With more than eight hours of programming to go on, viewers were never informed about who the players were, their poker story, credentials, accomplishments, trending topics within the community, future appearances, or anything of the sort.
— Salomon Ponte (@salomonponte) April 22, 2017
Insults were flying as soon as PNiA’s Friday telecast went live, and they didn’t stop even when @ElloviSkin founder and entrepreneur Kelly Winterhalter took over the Featured Seat and implored several players at the table to move on. Which meant that the California live pro was not afforded any opportunity to promote Women in Poker to the same high standards that were set a month ago by GPI Female Player of The Year Cate Hall.
The numerous critical posts put forth by TwoPlusTwo NVG forum contributors highlight the lack of experience from some personalities of knowing what spot they’re in not only at the poker table, but also on a longform broadcast. And maybe that’s fine… for now. Individuals must often-times “get some reps in” before becoming proficient in a different skill set, yet make no mistake that the mainstream spotlight is coming to poker.
And quite frankly, Friday’s PNiA show exposed how some of the talent arrived at the TV table unprepared to conduct business in a manner that is beneficial to the poker community as a whole. For example, the “p-o-s scumbag” angle referenced above is an engaging one no doubt, but unworthy of an eight-hour sitcom miniseries in the eyes of many longtime enthusiasts who already know that casual fans will eventually tune-out if there’s no element of “quality poker” to accompany the sideshow.
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) April 22, 2017
High profile player Brandon Cantu should realize beforehand that playing the “victim card” on wager-welching is a clear loser (if for no other reason than creditors’ kids eat, too) and the talent should correspondingly take into account that shredding a fellow personality for hours on end isn’t the correct play, either. If there truly exists enough heat to merit such ceaseless chagrin from the co-stars, then keep Cantu on the commentary mic (where he began Day 2) so the talent at the table can focus on showtime and LFG?
Watch PNiA Choctaw Day 2 Live Stream
Soaring interest in Poker Night in America’s 2017 programming validates the argument that PNiA and its player roster are sitting on a bonafide winner. The show’s producers have awarded an enormous, unprecedented amount of leverage to poker players in an effort to innovate televised poker entertainment by embracing a modern era of marketing in which talent drives growth with media in supporting roles that make sense for all involved.
Choctaw Day 2 is currently underway with Doug and Kelly stepping-in for Saturday action featuring Kyle Julius, Steven Fuhrman, Parx Casino Poker Room Ambassador Esther Taylor-Brady, David Baker, and Ashley Hine.
— Matt Glantz (@MattGlantz) April 22, 2017
(Want to learn more about poker strategy? Click below for a free download and more information on the 20 Rules for Playing Flush Draws created by Upswing Poker featured pros Doug Polk and Ryan Fee!)
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).