One of the most popular made for television poker shows, the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge, will return with new episodes this Sunday, according to an announcement from the number one site in the online poker industry.
Fox Television will once again air the Million Dollar Challenge as companion programming to its coverage of the National Football League (NFL). On weeks that Fox does not have the doubleheader coverage of the NFL for its viewers (the weekly doubleheader is shared between Fox and CBS on alternating weekends), the PokerStars Million Dollar Challenge will either be seen prior to or at the conclusion of the Fox NFL football game in a viewer’s area. Several amateur players – who have qualified for the program through special tournaments at PokerStars.net – will attempt to take down the $1 million top prize.
Seven weeks of broadcasting are planned. The show will premiere this Sunday and will have its second broadcast the next Sunday (September 26th). The show will then fall into its two week plan in October (10th and 24th) and November (7th and 21st). The grand finale, where one contestant will face poker pro Daniel Negreanu heads-up for the chance at the $1 million grand prize, will air on Sunday, December 12th.
For this year’s version of the program, PokerStars has lined up several celebrities to take part in the Round One action against the amateurs. These “celebrity defenders” include “Dancing With The Stars” hostess Brooke Burke, former two-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Elway, legendary Detroit Lions running back and member of the Hall of Fame Barry Sanders, Playboy Magazine 2007 Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood, and future National Basketball Association Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton.
The format for the Million Dollar Challenge is the same as in its first season. The amateur faces one of the “celebrity defenders” in an attempt to move onto Round Two. For the first round of competition, Negreanu sits at the table with the player offering advice and reading their opponent.
In Round Two, Negreanu is sent to an “isolation booth,” where only the amateur can hear his advice. The competence of the opponents picks up as well, with members of Team PokerStars stepping to the felt. Such Team PokerStars pros as World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event winner Chris Moneymaker, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, and Vanessa Rousso are the potential combatants for Round Two.
If the amateur is able to defeat one of the Team PokerStars pros in Round Two, they then face a difficult choice: walk away from the game with $25,000 or take on Negreanu – who has been helping them to this point – with $100,000 and a seat at the Tournament of Champions on the line. By defeating “Kid Poker,” the amateur player moves on to the Tournament of Champions and, if they win that, will once again face Negreanu for a shot at $1 million.
The show has proven to be quite successful for Fox and PokerStars. Hosted by Fox’s Chris Rose and reporter Michelle Nunes, the first season of the PokerStars.net Million Dollar Challenge was the highest rated network broadcast poker program in U.S. history, averaging nearly four million viewers per episode. For those that may not remember last year’s conclusion, retired NYPD officer and 9/11 first responder Mike Kosowski shockingly beat Negreanu to take home the $1 million grand prize.