Poker Night in America is expanding its broadcast reach with a new live TV show on the CBS Sports Network. The new show, Poker Night LIVE, will pit celebrities (including poker celebrities) against one another at The Gardens Casino in Los Angeles, California in front of a live TV audience.
The show will debut in the 10 p.m. time slot on CBS Sports Network on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.
Initial plans have the show airing every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. for a period of 13 weeks.
“We’ve been re-imagining TV poker for the past four years, making it more fan friendly with famous faces and a fun atmosphere,” said Todd Anderson, President of Rush Street Productions, the parent company of Poker Night in America. “This is the latest exciting step as we continue to revolutionize how fans can watch poker. Anything can happen on live TV and probably will with a table filled with celebrities! The viewers will be able to see and hear everything that’s happening, just as if they are another player sitting at the table.”
A slimmed down cash game
Part of the mainstream appeal of Poker Night In America (the show has been airing on CBS Sports since 2014) is the stakes the games are played for. Most weeks, the cash game is played at $25/$50 stakes; large enough to create some drama and anxiety, especially for the amateur players, and attract a mix of top-tier and up-and-coming professional players, but small enough to let the pros cut loose and have fun without worrying about their bankrolls.
According to the press release, the new celebrity-centric show will be played at even lower stakes, “so the stars can just have fun and let loose, with no worry about making mistakes.”
“This will be unlike any poker show currently on TV,” said Anderson. “Poker Night LIVE will be more like a Hollywood home game brought directly into viewers homes with lots of interesting guests, lots of laughs and lots of live action.”
Poker Night is trying to craft different lineups
The main PNiA show, with its $25/$50 stakes, tended to only attract celebrity players or wealthy amateurs who were already poker enthusiasts. With a smaller buy-in, PNiA is trying to widen its celebrity and amateur net, targeting casual and novice players, who might not mind firing off four or five $1,000 buy-ins, but would think twice about doing the same at five to ten times the stakes.
PNiA is also hoping the new format will bring some different poker personalities to the table, like Joe Stapleton.
Stapleton is a familiar name in the poker world, as he commentates many poker shows, including PNiA, but the new format will see “Stapes” come out of the booth and sit down at the table.
“Stapes (Joe Stapleton) is a huge talent, and a blast to play poker with! With his comedic skills and vast experience at calling some of the most iconic poker hands of all time – we can’t wait to watch him mix it up with Celebs on Live TV,” explained Poker Night LIVE’s recently named Executive Producer Jonnie Kedj, known for his work on other shows including Celebrity Poker Showdown, the World Poker Tour® and the PokerStars® Big Game.
The general vibe of the new show seems to be similar to the old Celebrity Poker Showdown shows that used to air on Bravo, in that it’s less about the money changing hands and more about the exposure.
Depending on the stakes, instead of professional players, you might see more poker media members and poker TV personalities like Stapleton sign up to play on the show against some of the celebrities and professional players.