NBC Set to Launch 3rd Season of Poker After Dark on 12/31

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10 exciting new matches and a new host highlight PAD3

With two successful seasons of Poker After Dark in the books, NBC will continue to bring poker fans around the globe the very best in 6-handed match-ups with the airing of its 3rd season beginning late night on December 31. The hit show will again feature the top players in the game each putting up $20,000 per match and competing for a $120,000 winner-take-all prize. Returning to provide limited commentary is Ali Nejad.

The program, designed to show how a match progresses over time by showing the majority of the hands involved, has provided not only top quality poker filled with drama and excitement, but also a lot of laughs and some eyebrow-raising behavior. Contributing to the entertainment factor is the interaction that takes place between the players, which allows viewers a better look into each of their personalities. This banter is often confrontational, but for the most part is lighthearted and filled with exchanges and anecdotes you won't find on any other program.

The producers takes pride in introducing an interesting mix of players to the viewing audience, and the first 2 seasons saw 57 of the game's elite participate. This year 15 newcomers will make their debut, including Jean-Robert Bellande, Hoyt Corkins, Roland de Wolfe, Chau Giang, Mark Gregorich, Sam Grizzle, Berry Johnston, J.J. Liu, Scotty Nguyen, David Oppenheim, Erica Schoenberg, Beth Shak, Gavin Smith, and Robert Williamson III. Another notable newcomer is amateur Ken Light, who will play in the opening match of the season. Ken won his seat via a freeroll at FullTiltPoker.net and was able to choose his personal dream line-up.

PAD3 will also debut a highly entertaining new program host named Marianela, who will bring her unique charm, wit, and personality to the show. This Argentina-born beauty is hip, creative, and as comfortable in front of a camera as any runway model. The players loved working with her, and viewers will especially enjoy how well she interacts with the players. Be sure to visit http://www.nbcsports.com/poker for photos and more information about the new "Poker Princess."

Here are the new matches that will take place during Poker After Dark's 3rd season:

Match 21: Dream Table (Week of December 31)

Seat 1: Daniel Negreanu
Seat 2: Phil Hellmuth
Seat 3: Jennifer Harman
Seat 4: Mike Matusow
Seat 5: Scotty Nguyen
Seat 6: Ken Light

Match 22: 19th Hole (Week of January 7)

Seat 1: Gavin Smith
Seat 2: David Oppenheim
Seat 3: Erick Lindgren
Seat 4: Phil Ivey
Seat 5: Doyle Brunson
Seat 6: Daniel Negreanu

Match 23: Hecklers (Week of January 14)

Seat 1: Gavin Smith
Seat 2: Sam Grizzle
Seat 3: Jean-Robert Bellande
Seat 4: Mike Matusow
Seat 5: Shawn Sheikhan
Seat 6: Phil Hellmuth

Match 24: World Champions (Week of February 11)

Seat 1: Chris Ferguson (2000)
Seat 2: Johnny Chan (1987, 1988)
Seat 3: Berry Johnston (1986)
Seat 4: Jamie Gold (2006)
Seat 5: Phil Hellmuth (1989)
Seat 6: Huck Seed (1996)

Match 25: Cowboys (Week of February 18)

Seat 1: Doyle Brunson
Seat 2: Chris Ferguson
Seat 3: Chau Giang
Seat 4: Andy Bloch
Seat 5: Hoyt Corkins
Seat 6: Gabe Kaplan

Match 26: International (Week of February 25)

Seat 1: Patrik Antonius (Finland)
Seat 2: Johnny Chan (China)
Seat 3: Roland de Wolfe (England)
Seat 4: Daniel Negreanu (Canada)
Seat 5: Gus Hansen (Denmark)
Seat 6: John Juanda (Indonesia)

Match 27: Jam Up (Week of March 24)

Seat 1: David Williams
Seat 2: Howard Lederer
Seat 3: Mike Matusow
Seat 4: Barry Greenstein
Seat 5: Antonio Esfandiari
Seat 6: Eli Elezra

Match 28: Gus and the Ladies (Week of March 31)

Seat 1: Gus Hansen
Seat 2: Vanessa Rousso
Seat 3: J.J. Liu
Seat 4: Clonie Gowen
Seat 5: Beth Shak
Seat 6: Erica Schoenberg

Match 29: Love at First Raise (Week of May 12)

Seat 1: Jennifer Harman
Seat 2: David Benyamine
Seat 3: Jennifer Tilly
Seat 4: Marco Traniello
Seat 5: Erica Schoenberg
Seat 6: Phil Laak

Match 30: Commentators (Week of May 19)

Seat 1: Mark Gregorich
Seat 2: Chad Brown
Seat 3: Ali Nejad
Seat 4: Robert Williamson III
Seat 5: Phil Gordon
Seat 6: Howard Lederer

So will any of the players go on mega-tilt this season? Count on it. Will there be more feisty verbal exchanges? Of course. Will there be any surprise winners? You betcha. Will Phil Hellmuth finally win a match? Well, you'll just have to tune in to find out. But what better way is there for a poker fan to usher in the New Year?

This press release was written by Dennis Oehring, who works with the firm POKER-PROductions. Photo of Marianela courtesy of NBC's Paul Drinkwater.

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