This Season’s High Stakes Poker Shakeup

Everyone knew that big changes were coming for High Stakes Poker after its PokerStars sponsorship was announced last year. Now the show’s producers have officially announced this season’s lineup of players as well as a few other significant staff changes. While HSP watchers can expect quite a few new faces at the table, they can also expect a new personality at the mic. That’s because longtime HSP host Gabe Kaplan will be replaced by comedian Norm MacDonald in the seventh season.

Some news that’s been met with a more lukewarm response from HSP fans is the fact that no Full Tilt Poker pros will appear on the seventh season. Rumors of the FTP player exodus have been floating around on poker forums for months, but now it’s official. On the upside, of the five players that have thus far appeared on all seasons of the show – Doyle Brunson, Eli Elezra, Antonio Esfandiari, Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu – only Eli Elezra will not be returning.

The other pros scheduled to appear on the seventh season of HSP include: Johnny Chan, Jonathan Duhamel, Phil Galfond, Phil Laak, Jason Mercier, David Peat, Andrew Robl, Vanessa Selbst and Haralabos Voulgaris. In addition to Elezra, some other fan favorites that are notably absent this go-round are Patrik Antonius, David Benyamine, Tom Dwan, Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow. It’ll hardly seem like a high stakes game without these guys, especially since Dwan and Ivey have been redefining high stakes games this last year.

To add dimension to the show in absence of some of its most popular past pros, High Stakes Poker has lined up a long list of high profile poker amateurs. The only returning amateur is Mike Baxter; he’ll be joined on and off throughout the season by Phil Ruffin, Bill Perkins, Julian Movsesian, Bill Klein, Robert Croak and Eric Boneta. Also, since the show is based entirely out of Las Vegas this year, viewers can expect very little variance in the background scenery.

The good news for poker TV fans that like to watch both High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark is that the two shows will continue to co-exist peacefully on the programming schedule with HSP playing weekends at 10/9c on the Game Show Network (aka GSN) and HSP showing Monday through Friday at 2:05am on NBC. HSP fans are also in for something extra with their viewing options this season: 3D. The very first episode of the new season of High Stakes Poker will air on GSN on Saturday, February 26, but it is also available on DirecTV users’ n3D channel.

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