No Full Tilt Pros on High Stakes Poker – the silver lining [Editorial]

No Full Tilt Pros on High Stakes Poker – the silver lining [Editorial]

Friday, 4 February 2011

Poker fans the world over were disappointed to learn that Full Tilt Poker's pros would not be appearing on the latest season of GSN’s High Stakes Poker, beginning broadcast on February 26.

Barry Greenstein, posting on the Two Plus Two forums, said that after speaking with Howard Lederer and High Stakes Poker producer Mori Eskandari, Full Tilt “has two major concerns.

“First is they don't like their players playing when PokerStars is the sponsor of the show Secondly, they were unhappy that PokerStars bought the HSP archives. In the early seasons of HSP, the players didn't wear logos, so FTP is concerned that viewers will be able to go to and see the FTP players without logos and be confused by their affiliation.”

This means that, unlike in the past two seasons, Tom “durrrr” Dwan will be unable to rip up the table. In season six the battles between him and Phil Ivey; their domination of the table... they were undoubtedly the highlights of the televised high stakes cash game. High Stakes Poker mainstays Ivey, Dwan, Patrik Antonius and Eli Elezra will not be competing in this season of the programme.

So far, all we know is that Antonio Esfandiari, Jonathan Duhamel, Phil Laak, Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu will be featured players – you can view the trailer here on GSN’s YouTube channel. Esfandiari’s fellow Victory Poker pro Andrew Robl has also confirmed an appearance as have PokerStars Pros Barry Greenstein and Jason Mercier, who made his debut last season. Rumour has it that Phil Galfond, David “Viffer” Peat and Scotty Nguyen will all be featured in season seven also.

Now, that’s not a shabby line-up. However, I would expect now that PokerStars have free reign on the show, we will see a fantastic season – perhaps not imminently, but for the eighth run? I say this because of the PokerStars Big Game. Players like Isaac Haxton, Scott Seiver and Aaron Jones were featured in the unique show in the last season and the loose-aggressive style of these players really made for some great hands and interesting spots that are entertaining from the perspectives of both the poker conniseuer (“zomg sick 3-bet bluff after the turn check-raise!”) and the casual viewer (“lol he 4-bet bluffed with 5-6 that’s so cool I’m gonna do that online”) which is great for the show and poker in general.

Now that the spaces formerly occupied by Elezra, Dwan, Ivey, Antonius, Mike Matusow and Lederer himself are freed up this gives us an opportunity to see players in a televised cash game for the first time. Hell, even if only PokerStars Pros were allowed (which is not the case, as Victory pros Robl and Esfandiari prove; Full Tilt are simply putting their foot down) then the wealth of potential is huge: Vanessa Selbst, for example, is a player we have yet to see take her skills to a televised cash game. Many online players are yet to cut their teeth on a TV game and PokerStars, with a dedicated team of online pros and – as the Big Game has shown – a willingness to put online stars on TV, will no doubt be happy to introduce the televised poker world to the cold 5-bet bluffs and triple check-raises of the online pro.

Oh, and for season eight, a certain Swedish player will be 21 and eligible to participate in the games. What’s his name? Viktor Blom, or something. Isildur1. You may have heard of him.

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