Poker After Dark Season 5: Start getting excited

Phil Hellmuth in his Poker Tree T-shirt.
The Hellmuth Bash, featuring Hellmuth ... and bashing.

With a minimum of 16 new episodes being shown in 2009 (including four remaining from Season 4), poker fans will have plenty of opportunity to catch some of the most exciting poker ever to be filmed.

Renowned for its unique format and high-profile professional players, Poker After Dark sets the bar higher each year, yet keeps finding a way to put the previous seasons to shame. With six weeks of "winner takes all" sit-and-go tournaments, and seven full weeks of cash games, there will be plenty of action to keep viewers entertained each week.

Tournament  Matchups

All tournaments are $20,000 buy-in, six-handed, winner-takes-all events.

  • The Magnificent Six: Featuring six of the biggest names in poker: Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey and Phil Hellmuth.
  • National Pride: Season 5's national pride pits the U.S.A. against Italy. Playing for Team USA: Ferguson, Lederer and Max Pescatori and Dario Minieri.
  • Celebrities and Mentors: Three celebrities and the players who taught them some tricks. Former MLB pitcher Orel Hershiser sits across from Gavin Smith; the great Jason Alexander uses the pointers received from Barry Greenstein against him, and Don Cheadle battles with onetime tutor Phil Gordon.
  • International Week: This popular segment is back, featuring "Yukon" Brad Booth from Canada, David Benyamine from France, Alan Cunningham of the United States, John Juanda from Indonesia, John Phan from Vietnam  and the WSOP and WSOPE sensation Ivan Demidov from Russia (with love).
  • Dram Match III: Forty-four-year-old amateur Arnold Thimons from Greensburg, Pa. won the honor of getting to choose five players to play against for a $120,000 first-place prize. His list includes: Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Mike Matusow, Johnny Chan and Daniel Negreanu.

Cash-Game Matchups

All cash games are $200/$400 blinds with a $100,000 min./$250,000 max. buy-in. Stakes can be raised if all players agree; straddles props and flips are allowed.

  • Nets vs. Vets: Three online stars face off with three established live poker players. From teh interwebs we have: Taylor "Green Plastic" Caby, Cole "CTS" South and David "Raptor" Benefield. The final three seats are filled with live players: Doyle Brunson, Gabe Kaplan and Eli Elezra.
  • The Hellmuth Bash: Two full weeks will be devoted to Phil Hellmuth on the table with Tom "durrrr" Dwan, Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Kenny "Sick Call" Tran and high-stakes recreational player Bob Safai.
  • Railbird Heaven: Named after the high-stakes Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth and David "Viffer" Peat, who will share time with Hansen. With these action junkies together in one place, you can expect some serious action, expensive props and sick flips.
  • The final two weeks need no name - the players at the table are headline enough: Eli Elezra, Tom Dwan, Patrik Antonius, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey and Ilari "Ziigmund" Sahamies.

With all of these incredible matchups, featuring some of the biggest names in poker, Poker After Dark's Season 5 guarantees to deliver some of the best poker action in 2009. Keep your tuner to NBC starting Dec. 29.

Don't have cable? Won't be at home? No PVR? You can watch the episodes online just hours after they air on the NBC Sports webpage:  www.nbcsports.msnbc.com/poker.

 

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