As the fallout from online poker’s Black Friday continues, there is at least one thin ray of sunshine that has made it through the clouds. Poker News Daily can confirm that GSN‘s “High Stakes Poker” will continue airing. However, it’ll be shown at 11:00pm ET and PT on Saturdays. This past weekend, PokerStars.net commercials were shown during the broadcast; to anyone unaware of everything that happened on Friday, nothing looked any different.
This weekend, “High Stakes Poker” will shed its PokerStars branding including on-screen graphics and verbal mentions. A GSN official told Poker News Daily on Wednesday, “As a result of the indictments and by mutual agreement, PokerStars.net and Full Tilt Poker.net have withdrawn their presenting sponsorships, brand integrations, and ads from GSN’s poker programming. Beginning this weekend, our poker schedule will incorporate those and other changes, and we will evaluate additional adjustments to our schedule as warranted.”
For those who need a brief recap, 11 people, including PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg and former PokerStars head of payment processing Paul Tate, were indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The indictment claims that the men “arranged for the money received from U.S. gamblers to be disguised as payments to hundreds of non-existent online merchants purporting to sell merchandise such as jewelry and golf balls.” Charges levied against the defendants include money laundering and bank and wire fraud.
The ramifications on the online poker world have been swift and widespread. The U.S. Government has seized the domain names PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker.com, UB.com, UltimateBet.com, and AbsolutePoker.com. PokerStars and Full Tilt have blocked U.S. customers from playing. And while UB and Absolute Poker still allow current U.S. customers to play at their tables, the sites are not accepting new users from the USA and deposits and payouts have been suspended.
The problems have spread to other poker-related businesses. Both the “PokerStars Big Game” and “PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge” have been pulled from Fox. Full Tilt Poker has canceled its recently announced Onyx Cup. ESPN has taken both “Inside Deal” and ESPN Poker Club off of its website and pulled the North American Poker Tour broadcasts from its television schedule. ESPN has said, however, that the World Series of Poker will not be affected and will be filmed and aired as planned.
In the meantime, as already stated, “High Stakes Poker” is still running as usual on GSN. Although PokerStars.com is no longer accessible, PokerStars.net is, and that is the site that sponsors the popular cash game show.
“High Stakes Poker” is currently in its seventh season and airs on Saturday nights at 11:00pm ET and PT on GSN. This season is the first in which actor and comedian Norm Macdonald has served as the host, replacing the famed Gabe Kaplan. Kara Scott, who was Kaplan’s co-host in Season 6, replaced A.J. Benza and conducts player interviews from the poker room floor.
This is also the first season that the show was filmed at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Downtown Vegas’ Golden Nugget was the venue for Seasons 1, 5, and 6, The Palms hosted the show for its second season and the South Point Casino was the home of “High Stakes Poker” for Seasons 3 and 4.
Because PokerStars sponsors “High Stakes Poker,” Full Tilt is said to have forbidden its stable of pros from appearing on the show. Therefore, fan favorites such as Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Patrik Antonius, and Phil Ivey have not participated this season. Four players – Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Antonio Esfandiari, and Barry Greenstein – have appeared in all seven seasons. Both Negreanu and Greenstein are members of Team PokerStars.