The highly anticipated “PokerStars Big Game” began taping last week and is set to air across the United States beginning on Monday, June 14th. The one-hour show will air five nights a week on FOX affiliates and feature five of the biggest high-stakes poker players in the world and one PokerStars qualifier competing against each other in a cash game format. Air times will range between 1:00am and 2:00am.
The “Big Game” will stage a $200/$400 No Limit Hold’em game with a $100 ante, with each player buying in for a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of a $500,000. No official announcement has been about the lineup of players, but Team PokerStars Pro members Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Rousso, and Barry Greenstein, as well as Phil Hellmuth, Freddy Deeb, Tony G, Phil Laak, Doyle Brunson, and Todd Brunson have been confirmed as participants.
PokerStars is also staking a “Loose Cannon” qualifier with a $100,000 buy-in each week. The qualifiers will earn their seats by winning specially-designated satellite tournaments on PokerStars. All players from the United States and Canada are eligible to play in the free-to-enter “Big Game” Round 1 qualifiers, which are running four times per day through June 25th. Each player that reaches the final qualifying round will be invited to send in a casting video explaining why they think they should be on the “PokerStars Big Game.” The selected few will take their seats on national television and be allowed to keep whatever amount they win over the $100,000 mark.
PartyPoker’s Tony G, who has taken part in the early tapings of the show, expressed his thoughts about the idea of an online qualifier in his most recent blog: “Kudos to PokerStars for coming up with this amazing concept of a Loose Cannon. The player gets a $100K freeroll, but only gets to keep what he wins. The home viewer has someone to relate to as they watch the Cannon fire up his game. And let’s get back to Phil Hellmuth – he suffered badly again, not to mention being outclassed, and against all odds, he was humiliated yet again.”
Hellmuth made brief mention of the “Big Game” via Twitter on Saturday: “A hand came up in ‘The Big Game’ (on FOX soon) that was so sick I dare not talk about, ever! I guarantee it will be talked about worldwide!!” His Tweet quickly got the attention of the poker community and speculation circled about who was involved in the hand. In a thread on the TwoPlusTwo forums, PokerStars representative “PS SteveD” said the hand in question is “good TV.”
On-air host Amanda Leatherman will provide updates and interviews throughout the “Big Game” when it debuts on FOX on June 14th. Leatherman is the live webcast host for the PokerStars North American Poker Tour (NAPT), which has been hugely successful in its first season.