Latest poker spinoff has Vegas touch

Jul 7, 2009 5:04 PM
Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener |

TV show puts players in the Golden Nugget

Las Vegas poker gets worldwide exposure this week as the World Series of Poker’s main event begins two weeks of playing down to a final table – nearly 4,000 hopefuls had signed up through Sunday, the third of four starting days – and filming begins for a NBC show offering wannebe poker champs from throughout the world a chance to play for a million dollars against well-known pros.

The show, "Face the Ace" will debut in a Saturday night slot, probably in August with "Sopranos" co-star Steve Schirripa as the emcee.

Schirripa, incidentally, is proof that, yes, you can go home again and do very nicely thank you. He used to sign comedy acts at the Riviera and before that had experience as a bouncer at a long-gone Vegas disco.

Anyway, about 30 people have already qualified for the NBC show on the basis of their playing on FullTilt.net, the play money or non-gambling unit of the Internet poker site FullTilt.com.

"The thinking is that "Face the Ace" has the potential to open poker to a whole new audience and that’s good for any casino with a card room," says TV show consultant Eric Drache, who almost won a WSOP gold bracelet of his own three weeks ago. "We don’t expect a lot of hard-boiled pros to be staying home to watch it."

Once the 30 qualifiers arrive in Las Vegas, there will be further interviewing to select those judged the "most TV friendly … but the worst possible case scenario for any of them is that they will have four or five days in Las Vegas with enough spending money to make it interesting."

The idea is that contestants will be given the chance to pick one of four aces and play the well-known poker pro behind that ace for $20,000 in a heads-up match. If the contestant wins he’ll have the chance to walk away with that money or pick another ace and play another pro for $200,000.

And so it will go, up to the chance to play for a million dollars.

Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget has agreed to be the host hotel for the show and the contestants will be staying there although the actual filming will occur on a soundstage at another location.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Phil Hevener