High Stakes Poker Finally Taping Season 7

The newest season of High Stakes Poker has been surrounded by production delays, big moves, new sponsorships and more than its fair share of gossip and speculation. Having said that, the first sessions of Season 7 are finally being taped – albeit in a totally different location than was originally announced, and with some notable changes in the show’s previous go-to roster of pros.

Usually the show starts taping in November, but a late decision to move this year’s action from the iconic Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas to the Bellagio’s famed Big Game on the Strip has caused a significant overhaul of the old tried and true production schedule. HSP’s new PokerStars sponsorship has also proven to be a double-edged sword. While it will no doubt lead to a larger production budget and improved online marketing, it will also likely lead to the loss of any pros signed to competing poker sites.

To date, the most notable pro that has pulled out of the show is Daniel Negreanu. Negreanu is one of High Stakes Poker’s original players and has returned for all six preexisting seasons of the show. Negreanu announced via Twitter earlier this week that he will not be making a seventh appearance at the HSP table. Negreanu is actually a member of Team PokerStars, and his alleged conflict of interest on Twitter was a commercial shoot, leading many fans to wonder why his sponsor would rather have him on set for a commercial than on site for the show.

Out of the handful of other pros that have appeared for all six seasons, Doyle Brunson, Barry Greenstein and Antonio Esfandiari have already confirmed that they will be returning for Season 7, leaving only Eli Elezra’s participation up in the air. Unfortunately, as a Full Tilt player Elezra is a likely no-show. Other Full Tilt pros that have competed on HSP in the past but that have not yet committed to this season include: Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, John Juanda, Mike Matusow, and Jennifer Harman. In fact, almost all of Team Full Tilt has appeared on the show in previous seasons.

What’s the big deal? Sources are alleging that Full Tilt’s issue isn’t so much with PokerStars’ front and center sponsorship as with their recent purchase of the show’s archives. Their ability to use archive features that predate the show’s later use of sponsor apparel may allow them to feature Full Tilt pros on their own site, but without any indication of their professional affiliation with Full Tilt.

Can’t imagine the show without the likes of Negreanu, Ivey or Dwan? Younger fans of the game may be appeased to hear that the rumor mill is predicting that many of the old, familiar American faces will be replaced by some of the European up-and-comers that have revitalized the live tournament scene these last couple years.

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