Since Poker Central came back with the rebirth of their streaming outlet as a subscription service known as PokerGO, there has been a concerted effort to increasing the amount of original programming that the station provides. With their latest endeavor, Poker Central and PokerGO are dipping their toes into a genre that, at least in regular network and cable television, has become a bit overdone.
It was announced on Thursday that Poker Central and PokerGO will collaborate with Roundhead Creative for a five-episode reality series called Major Wager. The show, to be hosted by noted podcaster Joey Ingram, will take the viewers into world of proposition (or “prop”) betting. The show’s basic premise is that a group of contestants, with many coming from the poker world, will take part in performance-based prop bets. For the losers of those bets, majorly embarrassing punishments will be taped and aired as part of the program.
The poker aspect of the show comes in with the contestants that will be a part of the show. Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Brian Rast, Jeff Gross and Samantha Abernathy are but a few of the names that have been released as being a part of the competition. These players – and especially Esfandiari, as we’ll see in a bit – all have had their hands in some prop bets in the past, making them natural participants for a show like this.
“We wanted to explore what would happen if we combined the most competitive personalities in poker with prop betting in everyday scenarios – Las Vegas style,” said Joe Kakaty, the president of Poker Central. “Major Wager will be a hilarious addition to PokerGO’s already robust offering of original programming.” Phil Alcabes, the founder of Roundhead Creative, added “My producing partner Kevin Thomsen and I are thrilled to be a part of Poker Central’s vision for Major Wager and the commitment they have in bringing their audience innovative poker shows unlike anything currently on the market. We’re showcasing the lesser known skills, competitive spirit, and personalities of poker’s biggest stars that fans will have to see to believe.”
This isn’t Esfandiari’s first foray into televising his prop bets for the world to see. Along with his good friend, poker player Phil Laak, Esfandiari starred in two seasons of a television program called I Bet You that aired on the now-defunct MOJO cable channel. The premise of the show, which began in 2007, was that the two men would challenge each other with outlandish prop bets, often culminating in a big payoff when the loser of the bet was somehow humiliated (sounding very much like Major Wager). 24 episodes were taped across the States of America and the first season of the show (10 episodes) actually made it to DVD.
Instead of going the route with prop betting that they have, Poker Central and PokerGO might have been better advised to go with another program that featured Esfandiari and Laak in starring roles. In 2014, Esfandiari and Laak were the focal points of a program called Underground Poker. The pilot program aired on Discovery Channel and featured the gentlemen traveling the country and getting into various “underground” (non-casino) cash games. The show wasn’t picked up for future broadcasts by Discovery and, it seems, Underground Poker has languished in television purgatory since then.
There is not a solid date or time as to the airing of Major Wager, except announcements that it will begin streaming on PokerGO “the week of September 4.” The program may be a fun interlude and it does match up comedically (potentially) with Poker Nights, another original program airing on PokerGO. The big question, however, is will poker’s fandom watch programming that isn’t poker intensive? The answer could be the “make-or-break” factor in the success of PokerGO.