In a recent blog entry that appeared on DoylesRoom.com, site namesake Doyle Brunson blasted two poker franchises to hit television airwaves in recent months: NBC’s “Face the Ace” and FOX’s “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge.”
As talk show host Jim Rome would say, any time a person begins a sentence with “No disrespect intended,” someone is going to be disrespected. On the two poker game shows, which air on network television stations on weekend afternoons, Brunson commented, “No disrespect intended, but these poker shows are awful. Full Tilt’s ‘Face the Ace’ and Poker Stars ‘Million Dollar Challenge’ are so bad, it’s embarrassing. There is no skill involved in either show and I can’t imagine getting an audience that will watch the shows.” Both series saw online qualifiers take to the felts to play heads-up against heralded poker pros.
“Face the Ace” began airing on August 1st and originally claimed the 9:00pm ET hour on Saturday night. It aired for two episodes in prime time before a planned decision to move the poker franchise to afternoons on the weekend day. The first episode of the Steve Schrippa-hosted show featured Don Topel taking home $200,000, but it mustered just a 0.4 rating with a 2 share, which meant that only 1.59 million viewers had tuned in. Its competition included “America’s Most Wanted” and the movie “Red Eye,” which aired on ABC.
One week later on August 8th, Topel lost the $1 million match to Full Tilt Poker pro Gavin Smith and walked away with nothing. The news was equally grim for NBC, which saw the second installment of “Face the Ace” generate a 0.3 rating with a 1 share, the equivalent of 1.46 million viewers age 18 to 49. “Face the Ace” airs once per month on the network, with future one-hour episodes scheduled to be shown on October 31st, November 14th, December 12th, and January 2nd. NBC also broadcasts the National Heads-Up Poker Championship as well as “Poker After Dark,” which airs Monday to Saturday at 2:05am ET.
The “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge” premiered last Sunday following NFL on FOX coverage, or around 4:30pm ET in most markets. Daniel Negreanu serves as the face of the franchise, helping contestants battle PokerStars-sponsored sports figures and pros in the first two rounds. Then, Negreanu transitions from friend to foe, taking contestants on heads-up in the third round with $100,000 on the line. All $100,000 winners advance to the Table of Champions, whose victor faces Negreanu for $1 million. Last week, Father Andrew Trapp earned $100,000 after defeating former NBA star John Salley and professional poker player Vanessa Rousso.
“Million Dollar Challenge” returns this Sunday following the NFL on FOX. Then, like “Face the Ace,” it will air once per month, with November 22nd, December 13th, and December 27th serving as its remaining dates. “Face the Ace” and “Million Dollar Challenge” exclusively feature Full Tilt and PokerStars pros, respectively.
Brunson also commented on the recent departure of A.J. Benza from GSN’s “High Stakes Poker.” On the televised ring game series, Brunson explained in his blog, “As I travel around, the High Stakes [Poker] cash games are the ones all the fans talk about and I agree with them that they are by far the most interesting. Speaking of that, I read where A.J. Benza is being replaced on GSN’s High Stakes Poker show. That’s too bad, I like A.J.’s subtle sense of humor. Vanessa Rousso is named as his likely replacement. I’m pro-Vanessa so I think she will fit in nicely with the old comic Gabe Kaplan.” Rousso told Poker News Daily that she is not the next host of “High Stakes Poker.” To clear the air, GSN is scheduled to make an announcement by the end of the week.