NBC is all set to debut its fifth season of Poker After Dark in its usual late night air time of 2:05am tonite and also with its usual cast of characters. Executive Producer, Mori Eskandani said, “Basically, we’re going to have 16 new episodes that will be spread out in 2009."
The first three episodes called, "Close, but no Cigar" will feature players who in recent years couldn't quite make it to the finish line at the final table of the World Series of Poker main event. Highlighting the table will be the brash but lovable Mike Matusow who finished in ninth place in the 2005 main event and placed high in this year's event. In contrast to Matusow will be his fellow Full Tilt pro, Allen Cunningham, who in 2006 finished in fourth place after losing a coin flip hand against that year's champion, Jamie Gold.
Also featured at the table will be two main event runner-ups, David Williams and Dewey Tomko. Tomko has the dubious distinction of finishing second in the main event not once but twice in 1982 and 2001. In 2004, Williams managed to eliminate the entire field but the eventual champion of 2004, Greg Raymer. Joining the other players will be Andy Black who finished in fifth in 2005 and Lee Watkinson who made it to eighth place in 2007. Both players' departure from the final table was unexpected. At one point Black was the chip leader at the final table before a few errors caught up with him and sending him home. In 2007, Watkinson was the last remaining pro at the final table but saw his tournament hopes die when he re-raised all in with A-7 against Jerry Yang's A-9.
All players will be ponying up $20,000 of their own money with the winner taking all. Poker After Dark will feature cash games as well as six player sit and go's. Eskandani feels that the combination will appeal to a wider audience. “We like to cater to everybody’s tastes,” said Eskandani.
Also debuting will be a new series of episodes on January 5 entitled, "Speak Your Mind" and will feature some of poker's most notorious and outspoken players like Phil Hellmuth and Todd Brunson as well as other players who don't hesitate to express themselves at the table.
On February 9, the episode entitled, "Brilliant Minds" will feature players who have Ph.D's and will include Chris Ferguson and Andy Bloch. February 16th's "Nets vs Vets" episode will pit young internet players such as David Benefield against poker veterans like Doyle Brunson.
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