Battle of the sexes!

Jan 11, 2005 2:12 AM

This could be Bobby Riggs versus Billy Jean King all over again, but without the shorts and sneakers. GSN, the cable TV network for games, will throw together 12 of the world’s top poker players in a no-holds barred poker tournament that pits men against women.

Once and for all we’ll be able to find out whether men have an advantage over women in the game of poker. If not, at least we’ll get to see on TV some top flight poker players.

Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes is a seven episode invitational tournament hosted by syndicated radio personality Tom Leykis, who is known for his outrageous and somewhat chauvinistic defense of the male species.

The poker series marks Leykis’ first hosting duties on television. He is joined by co-host Kennedy, the one-named TV and game show veteran who proudly represents the female voice.

Hired to provide the expert, color commentary is Robert Williamson III, a former World Series of Poker finalist and poker author.

Poker Royale: Battle of the Sexes will premiere on Jan. 21 at 9 p.m. on GSN. Immediately following the poker cat-fight will be GSN’s World Series of Blackjack, which completes the cable network’s Friday night casino daily double.

"Based on the success of our first poker series, we wanted to follow up with a second installment with a unique twist," said a spokesman for GSN. "There’s a real ongoing debate in the poker world as to whether the women are as good as the men. We sit our viewers right at the table to watch the play and hear the banter and decide for themselves."

The gender clash will feature some of poker’s top male players, including: Chris Moneymaker (2003 World Series of Poker champ), Paul Wolfe (2003 World Championship Online Poker final runner-up), Greg "Fossilman" Raymer (2004 World Series of Poker champ), Amer Vahedi (2001 No Limit Texas Hold’em Player of the Year), Layne Flack (five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner) and Antonio Esfandiari (World Poker Tour first place champion in 2003).

In the women’s corner are Kathy Leibert (2002 Party Poker Million champion), Jennifer Harman (World Poker Tour fourth place winner), Evelyn Ng (World Poker Tour Ladies Night second place), Karina Jett, Kristy Gazes (2001 World Series of Poker fifth place) and Clonie Gowen (World Poker Tour Ladies Night champion).

In each of the first six episodes of Poker Royale, three men and three women from the teams of men and women will play a game of no limit Texas Hold’Em. Each episode’s champion wins $10,000 and six points. The player who finishes second receives five points, third place receives four points, fourth place receives three points, fifth place receives two points and the last one a single point.

In the seventh episode’s final match, the top three point leaders for the men and women will face off for the championship. The winner of the tournament takes home $100,000 and wins an extra $30,000 to be split among the remaining team members.

In addition to hot-and-heavy action at the tables, the sparks should be flying in the broadcast booth. Leykis, the controversial sharp tongued broadcast radio personality, will undoubtedly root for the men. The "Tom Leykis Show" has developed its reputation as a forum on male/female issues.

But Kennedy won’t be deterred by Leykis’ boorish style. She will lend her sassiness to the women’s corner and likely keep Leykis at bay.