Poker After Dark: 'Mega' Match Debuts on Oct. 8

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Hefty buy-in of $50,000 results in a match with $300,000 up for grabs.

Viewers can throw the rulebook out the window for this week's groundbreaking match on NBC's Poker After Dark. All previous matches have had a $20,000 buy in, but the entry fee has been raised to a staggering $50,000 this week, making this winner-take-all match worth $300,000! The $250,000 profit that this week's winner will earn is more than the bracelet winners did in 18 of the 55 World Series of Poker events held in 2007.

It is only fitting that this match features elite players accustomed to playing for very high stakes. Five of the players, David Benyamine, Jennifer Harman, Eli Elezra, Barry Greenstein, and Phil Ivey, all play regularly in the "Big Game" in Bobby's Room at Bellagio. The other is Allen Cunningham, who has proven himself as one of the most successful tournament players in the world.

Harman and Ivey have won previously on Poker After Dark, and look to become two-time winners. Benyamine, Greenstein, and Cunningham have also participated on the show before, but have come away empty-handed and return in search of their first title.

This will be our first look at Eli Elezra on PAD, though he is certainly no stranger to television, having participated in all four seasons of High Stakes Poker. His loose aggressive style of play is in sharp contrast to many of his opponents at this table, and it should be interesting to see how this style fares against some of the most prolific players in the game, especially those like Cunningham and Harman who possess much tighter images.

Brief profiles of all six players follow. The match will begin airing on NBC late night Monday at 2:05 AM, October 8, and will continue for five consecutive nights in the same time slot. A special program called the "Director's Cut" will air late night Saturday, October 13, at 1:00 AM, right after Saturday Night Live. This show will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the week with highlights and insightful player interviews.

Each of the match's six segments can also be viewed daily at http://www.nbcsports.com/poker. More detailed information on the players is also available there and at http://www.pokerafterdark.com.

There's a lot riding on this match, and the tension and drama is sure to be high. With $50,000 in starting chips, this match has more of a cash game feel to it, perhaps more so than any previously seen. The buy-in for this match makes it one of the most expensive entry fees for any tournament in the world, and provides yet another example of programming exclusivity that Poker After Dark viewers have come to rely upon.

David Benyamine: (Seat 1)

  • Owns one WPT open title and one WPT invitational title
  • Lifetime tournament winnings in excess of $1.14 million
  • Regarded as one of the best high-stakes cash game players in the world

Allen Cunningham: (Seat 2)

  • Winner of five WSOP bracelets, the latest coming in 2007, and was named the 2006 Player of the Year by ALL IN magazine
  • Lifetime tournament winnings in excess of $8.96 million, and ranks 5th on the all-time money list
  • Quiet, focused, and unassuming at the tables, preferring to let his stellar play do the talking

Jennifer Harman: (Seat 3)

  • Owns two WSOP bracelets
  • Career tournament winnings in excess of $1.85 million
  • Only woman to regularly compete in the "Big Game" at the Bellagio, and a member of "The Corporation" that plays against Texas billionaire Andy Beal

Phil Ivey: (Seat 4)

  • Winner of five WSOP bracelets
  • Career tournament winnings in excess of $7.88 million, and ranks 10th on the all-time money list
  • Last player to win three WSOP bracelets in one year (2002)

Barry Greenstein: (Seat 5)

  • Winner of two WSOP bracelets and two WPT titles
  • Career tournament winnings in excess of $5.37 million, and ranks 25th on the all-time money list
  • Signs and gives a copy of his book Ace on the River to any player who knocks him out of a tournament

Eli Elezra: (Seat 6)

  • Won his first World Series bracelet this year in 7-card stud hi/lo, and also owns one WPT title
  • Lifetime tournament winnings in excess of $1.64 million
  • Highly successful Las Vegas businessman and entrepreneur who owns several retail establishments on the Las Vegas Strip

This press release was written by Dennis Oehring, who is a freelance writer and poker consultant and works with the firm POKER-PROductions. Statistical information courtesy of The Hendon Mob player database. Photo courtesy of NBC's Dave Bjerke.

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