Season 5 of NBC's Poker After Dark Sure to Delight Fans

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Look for both cash games and tournaments to air in 2009.

Once again bringing together the most talented and celebrated poker players in the game, the fifth season of NBC's hit late night show Poker After Dark was recently filmed at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, resulting in thirteen weeks of action-packed new episodes that will air in 2009. Viewers will see a more balanced mix of both cash games and tournaments than they have in the past, with seven weeks of cash games and six weeks of the popular single table no-limit hold'em winner-take-all tournaments taking place, all in six-handed formats. Fans of the show will be treated to the return of many of their favorite players, along with the introduction of several new players that they have been asking to see.

This season, an interesting mix of fourteen players will make their PAD debut, including online phenoms Taylor "Green Plastic" Caby, Cole "CTS" South, David "Raptor" Benefield, and Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies. Celebrities Don Cheadle, Jason Alexander and Orel Hershiser will headline one star-studded match, while online qualifier Arnold Thimons gets his shot in another Dream Match. The remaining newcomers are John Phan, Kenny Tran, amateur Bob Safai, Max Pescatori, Dario Minieri, and 2008 WSOP Main Event runner-up Ivan Demidov.

Tournament overview

As mentioned above, six new $20,000 buy-in winner-take-all tournaments were filmed. One entitled "The Magnificent Six" will feature six of poker's most recognizable faces in Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Phil Hellmuth. There are no soft spots in this lineup for sure! National pride will be on the line in the "USA vs. Italy" as the United States will be represented by Ferguson, Lederer, and 2008 World Series of Poker Player of the Year Erick Lindgren, while Marco Traniello and 2008 WSOP bracelet winners Max Pescatori and Dario Minieri will play for Italy. Look for this to be an extremely tough match.

"Celebrities and Mentors" will feature three pros and three poker playing celebrities who credit these pros with helping them improve their games. Former MLB pitcher Orel Hershiser received some coaching prior to his success in the 2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship from Gavin Smith; actor/comedian Jason Alexander cites Barry Greenstein with giving him pointers on how to become a better player, and accomplished actor Don Cheadle has received some tutoring from poker professional/author/commentator Phil Gordon. This will be a fun match to watch and one for the record books.

In the past, the "International Week" matches on Poker After Dark have proven very popular, and the third edition of this theme features yet another stellar lineup. Those competing will be "Yukon" Brad Booth from Canada, David Benyamine from France, Alan Cunningham of the United States, 2008 WSOPE Champion John Juanda from Indonesia, red-hot tournament player John "The Razor" Phan from Vietnam, and the only player to have reached the final table at both the 2008 WSOP and WSOPE in Russia's young rising talent Ivan Demidov. This promises to be a great match-up sure to spark interest the world over.

There will be a "Dream Match III" as 44 year-old amateur Arnold Thimons from Greensburg, PA has chosen Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Mike Matusow, Johnny Chan, and Daniel Negreanu as the players he wants to compete against for the $120,000 first place prize. And rounding out the tournaments will be "Sit-N-Talk" featuring six players not shy about engaging in banter at the tables in Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Jennifer Harman, David Grey, Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, Jean-Robert Bellande, and Vanessa Rousso.

All in all, six great matches that should interest and entertain even the most casual of fans.

Cash game overview

The cash games will all be no-limit hold'em with $200/$400 blinds. The minimum buy-in will be $100,000 and the maximum $250,000. Straddles and antes may be employed at the discretion of the players, as well as increasing the stakes should all players agree.

One week will be another "Nets vs. Vets" and will feature three new pros that have enjoyed tremendous success in online cash game play against three seasoned veterans of cash games in live settings. The newcomers, all instructors at who have tremendous fan bases online, include Taylor Caby, Cole South, and David Benefield. The "Vets" are "The Godfather of Poker" Doyle Brunson, actor/comedian/commentator Gabe Kaplan, and high-stakes action-player Eli Elezra. This game is sure to generate a considerable amount of interest, especially among those in the Internet community.

Two full weeks will be devoted to "The Hellmuth Bash" as the Poker Brat himself goes up against Tom "durrrr" Dwan, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Kenny "Sick Call" Tran, and high-stakes recreational player Bob Safai. Whether the definition of the word "bash" applies to dissing an opponent or a party where everyone has a great time will be left to the viewers to determine.

Another two weeks will be featured in "Railbird Heaven," where viewers can now watch several of the players in the biggest games on the Internet in a live setting rather than logging on to an online poker site where no hole cards are shown. This game will showcase the skills of high-stakes cash game players Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, and David "Viffer" Peat, who will share time with Hansen. Look for additional side action between these players in the form of props and never-before-seen "flips," which are sure to have even casual fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

The remaining two weeks of cash game action has the potential to be among the most talked about games ever televised. This game will feature Eli Elezra, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, and exciting newcomer Ilari Sahamies of Finland. Expect more prop bets from this group, and strap yourself in for some wild swings.

In addition to these new episodes, the final three matches that were filmed during Season 4 that have not yet aired will now kickoff Season 5 beginning on December 29, bringing the number of new episodes that will be shown in 2009 to a minimum of sixteen. Popular model Leeann Tweeden will return as the show's host, while Ali Nejad will provide limited commentary. More detailed information about air dates through the beginning of July, as well as profiles on all of the players, old and new, can be found at For those who do not have the ability to stay up late to watch or have recording devices, the episodes can also be seen online within hours after the show airs at the above website. But however one watches, the next season of Poker After Dark should be "must see" viewing for poker fans around the world, and is certain to have fans clamoring for more.

Dennis Oehring serves as the Public Relations Coordinator for the firm POKER PROductions.


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