Inaugural PokerBowl to start in Las Vegas

The Happy Couple
Chad Brown and Vanessa Rousso will both play for the Denver High Rollers in the upcoming PokerBowl.

Since its beginnings, poker has been an individual rather than a cooperative pursuit, but all that is about to change with the U.S. Poker League's PokerBowl.

Running Oct. 20-23 in Las Vegas, the inaugural PokerBowl will see 25 six-player teams compete for the USPL National League title and $1 million.

It's a whole new way of looking at poker and already some of the world's most well-known professional poker players have signed on. Some of the more memorable teams include The Las Vegas Ratback with Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Antonio Esfandiari, Danny Masterson, Scott Fischman and Mike Matusow as well as the Denver High Rollers with Paul Wasicka, Vanessa Rousso, Chad Brown, Matt Atkins, Doyle Brunson and Todd Brunson.

Other notable players include Justin Bonomo, Sorel Mizzi, Scotty Nguyen, Kathy Liebert, Greg Raymer, Donnie Wahlberg, Gavin Griffin, David Williams and many more.

The format is simple. Five six-player teams play in each team tournament. As soon as only members from one team are still standing the day is finished and the entire team has qualified for the final, which will be one last five-team tournament.

Although collusion is certainly part of team poker, players will not be allowed to signal to each other during the tournament. Players may attempt to move chips to one another but they always run the risk of being intercepted.

It's a bold concept that has many industry insiders talking. Reigning 2007 WSOP Player of the Year Tom Schneider will be providing commentary for the event and he's excited to see what transpires.

"I think we're going to see a lot of different kinds of plays," said Schneider. "Players will be trying to move chips to other teammates but at the same time they might get caught by a player from another team and it could backfire. It should be fun."

Schneider mentioned that players who have a lot of experience with each other will have a distinct advantage if they can adapt to the format.

"Poker used to be a bit different in the old days and I think guys like Doyle [Brunson] and Chip [Reese] will do well so long as they sit down and actually work at it. If they don't some of the young Internet guys could take charge."

No matter what happens Schneider thinks the end result will be worth watching.

"We've got some of the best players in the world playing in this event and they are always interesting and entertaining," he said. "It will be different to see the players rooting for each other and I think the concept of team poker will be a winner."

Well-known poker pro Antonio Esfandiari agreed with Schneider.

"Team Poker is a whole new ballgame," he said.

The event will be filmed by Fox Sports and broadcast in seven one-hour episodes set to premiere on Jan. 26, 2008.

The U.S. Poker League is heavily invested in the PokerBowl and already has plans for a PokerBowl II to be held in fall of 2008, with a potential player draft for unsigned players in the off season.

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