Filming for the 7th season of GSN's High Stakes Poker got underway this week at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. Taping was originally scheduled to occur last month at the Golden Nugget--the setting for several of the show's previous seasons--but the producers made a last-minute switch to the Bellagio, causing the month-long delay in production.
Unfortunately, the biggest news story surrounding season 7 so far is about who won't be on. As covered earlier this week, pros sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, including such HSP luminaries as Tom "durrrr" Dwan and Phil Ivey, will not be appearing on the show's upcoming season because of a recent sponsorship agreement between the show's producers and FTP's chief rival, PokerStars.
Aside from all of the FTP players, also conspicuously absent will be Daniel Negreanu, one of the few players who has appeared on all of the six first seasons. This year, unfortunately, the PokerStars pro isn't able to fit the filming into his busy schedule. Fresh off a final table appearance in the Asia Pacific Poker Tour Grand Final, he Tweeted to his fans on Tuesday, "Sad news: At airport headed home, which means the trip is over. Have a commercial shoot when I land, which means no HSP for me this year.”
Lex Veldhuis, who made his mark on the show with this nasty call last season against the legendary Doyle Brunson, also backed out at the last minute, explaining to fans through Twitter that he is having a "crazy busy week," and just can't fit in a session at the HSP set.
Despite all of these high-profile absences, the show's producers have had no trouble filling the game with exciting and personable pros. Barry Greenstein, Doyle Brunson, Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Galfond are just a few of the players expected to play a session or two during the three days of filming at the Bellagio. Scotty Nguyen, the 1998 WSOP main event winner and noted loose cannon at the table, is also scheduled to appear, marking his debut on High Stakes Poker.
As in the most recent seasons, the game will be No Limit Hold'em with a minimum buy-in of $200,000. Gabe Kaplan will supply the commentary (unfortunately, the great team of Kaplan and Benza has been broken up), and Kara Scott will handle the player interviews.
Shooting will wrap by the end of the week, but all players and crew are sworn to secrecy as to the results. The footage is expected to begin airing on GSN in February 2011. Stay tuned to the Rakeback.com news page for details about the season premiere.
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