Sunday night marks the seventh new episode of Season 6 for the popular GSN cash game series “High Stakes Poker.” Ratings for the longtime franchise are up dramatically across the board.
After six episodes of the new season, ratings among adults age 18 to 49 are up a staggering 27% over the first six episodes of Season 5. Among adults age 25 to 54, ratings are up 25% season over season and among men 25 to 54, a key demographic for many advertisers, ratings are up 29%. The series is GSN’s lone poker venture. The network owns the rights to air the sixth season of the World Poker Tour (WPT), but elected not to renew its deal for Season 7, which instead appeared to Fox Sports Net. The first five seasons of the WPT aired on the Travel Channel.
As you might expect, GSN officials were jumping for joy at the news. In a press release distributed by the network this week, David Schiff, GSN’s Vice President of Programming and Development, commented, “We’re very gratified to see this season of ‘High Stakes Poker’ performing so well among these important demographic groups and we can attribute it to an especially strong player lineup this season. We have some of the biggest names in poker this season, including more international players, and the viewers are clearly responding to the outstanding game play.”
On last week’s episode of “High Stakes Poker,” three newcomers made their way to the Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas armed with a $200,000 buy-in: Victory Poker pro Andrew “good2cu” Robl, Team PokerStars Pro front man Dennis Phillips, and Lex “RaSZi” Veldhuis. The trio is in the midst of battling several of poker’s most feared names, including Durrrr Challenge participants Patrik Antonius and Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, and Daniel Negreanu. Dwan ended last Sunday’s episode up $220,000, while Phillips dropped over $1000,000.
New episodes of “High Stakes Poker” air on Sundays on GSN at 8:00pm ET. Other players who can be seen throughout Season 6 include David Benyamine, Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Hellmuth, Andreas Hoivold, and Full Tilt Poker pro Mike Matusow. On the popularity of the cash game show, Negreanu commented in the same GSN press release, “‘High Stakes Poker’ has evolved a great deal from Season 1 and, in Season 6, the level of play has reached new heights. Not only are the players in the game improving, but I imagine the viewers who get a glimpse into some of these great poker minds are also learning a lot about the game.”
Heading into Season 6, GSN officials axed longtime announcer A.J. Benza and added floor reporter Kara Scott. As a result, Gabe Kaplan has flown solo in the booth during the new season. The change led to an online petition to bring back Benza, whose divorce from GSN played out on public blogs. Scott interviews players about key hands and hosts a weekly segment dubbed “30 Seconds with Kara Scott.”
“High Stakes Poker” may soon get a run for its money, as PokerStars recently announced a competitor in the form of “The Big Game.” The series will air on Fox and feature a $100,000 minimum buy-in. Qualifiers for “The Big Game” began running on PokerStars yesterday and wrap up on June 25th. The only announced participant on the show is Negreanu, who served as the face of the “PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge,” which also appeared on Fox and ran head-to-head with Full Tilt Poker’s flop “Face the Ace.”
This week on “High Stakes Poker,” Negreanu builds a $300,000 pot and Antonius gets it all-in with pocket aces against Robl. Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest poker television headlines.