While the likes of the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge and Full Tilt’s Face the Ace might be good for the industry, real poker fans will enjoy nothing more than the news that High Stakes Poker is due to start filming Season 6 next week. There have been some big changes since we last visited the Golden Nugget Casino, not least of all a change of hosts.
A.J. Benza made an acrimonious exit in recent months, with Canadian-born UK poker host Kara Scott set to relieve him of his duties. The notoriously attractive Scott has a strong poker presenting CV, having been the face of the European Poker Tour broadcasts for the last few years. She was also the presenter of niche UK show Poker Night Live and a regular figure on Sky Poker. Unlike many of the other attractive female presenters in the world of poker, Kara has the skills to back up her beguiling charm. This year she became only the second woman in history to record back-to-back WSOP Main Event cashes. Earlier in the year she came very close to her first major tournament victory, finishing second in the Irish Open for €312,600 ($463,781).
Kara for A.J. is not a straight swap. According to Game Show Network representatives, Scott will “report from the High Stakes Poker suite, interviewing poker players about poker strategy, big hands, and the table dynamics.” The setup will sound very familiar to fans of Poker After Dark. PAD and HSP follow a very similar format, but the former tends to run single table Sit & Gos rather than cash games. It is no coincidence that they are both produced by Poker PROductions. “We’re into the sixth season and we felt like it was time to freshen it up. Our feeling was that we wanted viewers to be in the room with the players. Gabe and A.J. did a good job, but they were disconnected from the action,” said David Schiff, GSN Vice President of Programming.
Aside from the change of hosts, the partial list of pros scheduled to appear on the show has been released. It’s a reassuring list of established names and new stars from the live and online world. Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Doyle Brunson, and Antonio Esfandiari will all return with their $200,000 buy-ins in hand. Joining them will be the likes of ex November Nine member Dennis Phillips, Lex Veldhuis, Andreas Hoivold, and notoriously lose UK pro Sammy George. Fellow UK player Andrew Feldman had also claimed that he was due to appear, but does not appear on the preliminary list of confirmed players.
This will also be a rare chance for TV audiences to get a look at Yevgeniy Timoshenko. The Ukrainian first burst onto the scene in 2008 when he won the Main Event at the APT Macau. He confirmed his status as one of the world’s finest tournament players by triumphing in the 2009 WPT Championship for over $2.1 million. To complete his year, he also achieved an incredible double win in the WCOOP Main Event for over $1.7 million.
Undoubtedly the most exciting player on the list is Phil Ivey. The current November Nine could be a world champion by the time filming begins. This will be only his second appearance on the show and the buzz surrounding his return is sure to be intense. There will be a rotating cast of mega-rich amateurs for Phil to feast upon, along with many more well known professional players. The show will debut on Sunday February 14th at 20:00 ET. The Game Show Network will then screen new episodes every week at the same time.
The full list of players confirmed for High Stakes Poker Season 6 so far is as follows: