Sunday marked the debut of the FOX poker show “PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge,” a franchise similar to rival site Fill Tilt Poker’s “Face the Ace.” In the end, Father Andrew Trapp of Garden City, South Carolina earned $100,000 and a seat at the Table of Champions.
Hosted by Chris Rose, of “Best Damn Sports Show Period” fame, “Million Dollar Challenge” began with Trapp facing off against former NBA star John Salley. In the first round, Daniel Negreanu sat by the contestant’s side and was not able to see their hole cards, but could give his thoughts on the action as he saw fit. In addition, Trapp could use one time out to consult with Negreanu in a soundproof isolation booth. In the match’s key hand, Trapp held Q-6 of spades and raised to 4,000 pre-flop. Salley re-raised to 7,000 with A-10 and Trapp used his time out. Negreanu told his protégé to push all-in despite his lackluster hand and Trapp obliged. Salley made the call and the flop came 5-K-9 with one spade. However, running spades gave Trapp a flush and doubled him up.
In the deciding hand, Trapp raised to 8,000 pre-flop with A-6 and Salley called with Q-3. The flop came 10-A-8 and Salley led out for 8,000 with “squadoosh.” Trapp called behind to see the turn come another ace, leaving Salley drawing dead. Salley checked and Trapp bet enough to put the “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” third place finisher all-in. Salley called for his last 4,000 and Trapp earned a trip to the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January.
Next up for Trapp was National Heads-Up Poker Championship runner-up Vanessa Rousso. This time around, Negreanu headed to the isolation booth, where he could see Trapp’s hole cards and was able to impart advice through an earpiece Trapp wore. In one hand, Rousso called pre-flop with 4-8 and Trapp checked his option with 8-7. The flop came 5-6-7, giving Rousso a straight, and Trapp bet out 2,000 with top pair and a straight draw. Rousso raised to 4,000, with Negreanu coaching, “Stick it in now. The quicker you do it, the better.” Trapp pushed and Rousso called for her stack. The turn came a four, however, splitting the pot and staving off disaster for the challenger.
In the final hand against Rousso, Trapp called pre-flop with K-7 and Rousso moved all-in for 11,300. Negreanu advised him to go with his gut and Trapp made the call. The board ran out J-J-4-2-7 and Trapp earned $25,000. He was then met with a decision to take the money and run or face Negreanu for $100,000 and a seat at the Table of Champions, whose winner will face the Team PokerStars Pro front man for $1 million.
Trapp elected to play on and, in a key hand against Negreanu, called pre-flop holding J-6. Negreanu, armed with K-9, checked his option. The flop came Q-7-J, giving Trapp middle pair. Negreanu bet out 800 and Trapp raised to 1,600. Negreanu made the call to see the turn fall a 10, giving him a straight. The action went check-check to a three on the river. Negreanu pushed for 7,100 and Trapp made the call, doubling up Negreanu to nearly the starting stack of 20,000.
In the final hand between Trapp and Negreanu, the latter called pre-flop with 5-6 and Trapp checked with J-8. The flop came 8-4-2, giving Trapp top pair and Negreanu a double gutshot straight draw, and Negreanu bet 2,000. Trapp shoved for 19,000 and after much deliberation, Negreanu made the call, exclaiming “Oops” when he saw what he was up against. Needing a three or seven, Negreanu watched as the turn and river came a jack and a deuce, respectively, shipping the $100,000 match to Trapp.
Four more installments of “Million Dollar Challenge” are on tap, airing on Sundays after NFL on FOX action for one hour on October 18th, November 22nd, December 13th, and December 27th.