Poker enthusiasts have a pretty sweet life these days, with poker so much in the mainstream that we’re seeing more and more television shows devoted to everyone’s favorite card game. There’s a whole range of different shows boasting exciting action and famous players on offer, but GSN has recently come out with a new show with a twist. Doubles Poker puts players into teams of two and pits them against their opponents in a Sit’N’Go format which makes sparks fly, and the highly anticipated semifinals are airing this weekend.

The actual format of the show is fairly simple. Each player buys in for $50,000 and plays four Sit’N’Go tournaments. Points are awarded to players for how well they do, and the sixteen players with the most points progress to the semifinals, then to the finals, where first gets a massive $1,000,000 and even fourth place walks away with $100,000. The game is, of course, No Limit Hold’Em, the blinds are very quick to go up and all action is four-handed making for some aggressive play and great poker.

There’s a twist, however. The action is indeed four-handed, but there are eight players in each Sit’N’Go. Before the cards get in the air, the players are randomly split into teams of two. Each team is dealt one hand between them, and for the first hand of the action, Player A of a team plays preflop and the turn, while Player B plays the flop and river. The next hand, Player B kicks off, but the hand is always alternating between the two players on each street.

As you can well imagine, this changes the game substantially. Any information the teammates try to give to each other is also readily available to the rest of the table, with the exception that each team gets one thirty second time-out per Sit’N’Go, in which they may talk amongst themselves without the other teams listening in. It will come as no surprise that the teamwork required causes some friction, and as the biggest egos in poker go head to head it can be easy to forget the cards altogether and just sit back and enjoy the relationships and banter of these top pros.

We’ve already made it as far as the semifinals, and the first eight players are going to be facing off this Saturday. The teams, while not known to the players beforehand, have been announced to the public since filming. Starting chip stacks are based on performance so far, and so the four teams and their starting chips are as follows:

Howard Lederer and Phil Gordon, starting with 550,000 in chips.
Andrew Lichtenberger and Nick Schulman, starting with 460,000 in chips.
Huck Seed and Allen Cunningham, starting with 395,000 in chips.
Greg Mueller and Vivek Rajkumar, starting with 510,000 in chips.

A lot of those names will already be familiar to poker fans, but in case it wasn’t already clear this is some truly great talent and we can expect to see some great cards from this lineup. The following weekend should be no less anticipated, though, with the other half of the semifinal taking place, pitting the following teams against one another:

Johnny Chan and Erick Lindgren
Phil Galfond and Annette Obrestad
Tony G and David Benyamine
Phil Ivey and Chris Ferguson

Television poker has really stepped it up a notch with this exciting new type of poker, and the players seem to be loving it, so hopefully we’ll see a lot more of this in the future. In the meantime, make sure you’re glued to the Game Show Network (GSN) this weekend to see the first of the semifinals, guaranteed to be action packed.