High Stakes Poker Canceled?

by , May 13, 2008 | 11:36 am

It seems that way. The show that pioneered Poker on TV 2.0 hasn’t filmed a new season for ’08 — they usually did so in March or April, I believe — and there seem to be no plans to do so any time soon. Reliable sources tell us:

Far as Gabe and I know….the show isnt coming back. Apparently…the network is going to go in a different direction and that aint good news for our show, especially since we skew a higher-aged audiuence. Never mind that we’re the network’s No. 1 show. Still and all, no one calls us from the network to say squat. Only Kevin Bellincoff checks in periodically, but it just don’t seem like good news. If you ask me…they’re treating us like shit. All we ever did was make them a bunch of money.

Wow, so there you have it. I also remember seeing promos for a cool new show where some pros crashed a home game, MTV-style, and covered the action with hole-card cams and presumably rawer HSP-style banter. Was looking forward to it — damn, can’t remember its name — but supposedly that show had inked a two-year deal with GSN. But haven’t seen that show pimped in weeks.

NOTE: GSN seems to have seriously downgraded the High Stakes Poker web presence, too.

57 Comments to “High Stakes Poker Canceled?”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    I assume you’re referring to Ace in the House with Cory Zeidman? I assume Oliver will gladly chime in with various discussions about how it wasn’t fitting GSN’s demo, (older women), etc. etc.

  2. California Jen

    If GSN starts ditching poker shows, where will the great content go? We have the WSOP on ESPN, but it seems like the only place for other poker shows to pitch their ideas is somewhere like Spike TV or Fox Sports.

    High Stakes Poker was THE most popular show among true poker fans.

    Yikes. This is very discouraging.

  3. DanM

    Hmm, maybe on Ace in the House. That sounds right, but I don’t know who Cory Zeidman is.

    If I were GSN, I’d be going more G4, too, frankly … but there’s no reason poker couldn’t fit into that format. At least not during the early stages when they are building up content.

  4. Ed

    Wow…no HSP? No need to watch GSN anymore. I knew it could not last forever but come on…why get rid of it just as it was getting started?

    I bet the same people that took Family Guy and Firefly off of FOX are responsible. At least FOX realized their mistake with Family Guy and brought it back.

  5. DanM

    Ed, apparently you are not desirable in the eyes of GSN.

  6. Kevin Mathers

    Also worth noting is the person responsible for HSP and WPT airing on GSN (GSN President/CEO Rich Cronin) left the network in July of last year.

    Cory Zeidman, memorable for his alleged slowroll against Jennifer Harman in the 2005 WSOP (rivering a straight flush against her full house). Also may recall him from some sort of boring story during the 2006 WSOP FT PPV broadcast. He’s also going to be at one of the Poker After Dark tables this coming season.

  7. Kevin Mathers

    Regarding Jen’s comments, insert Oliver’s only the WSOP and Headsup on NBC are the only entities able to avoid doing a time buy/every other poker show can only get on thru a time buy discussions here.

  8. DanM

    Indeed, Oliver seems to not have been totally off-orbit on this TV ratings stuff.

    And yep, it was Ace in the House I was thinking of — http://pokerontv.blogspot.com/2007/12/ace-in-house-airs-monday.html — and in fact I remembered it with Mike Matusow at first. I guess they never pulled it together. But I had heard from the fiance of the guy who created that show that they got a two-year deal. So I’d think she’d be a reliable source … but then again, they split up right around the time the deal supposedly went through, so there could be a lot of other factors in play.

  9. Ed

    “Ed, apparently you are not desirable in the eyes of GSN.”

    The same could be said for a lot of other people’s eyes.

  10. Dan M

    I wasn’t going to bring your wife into it. 🙂

    She’s such a sweet lady and good with wallpapers!

  11. Jason B

    Well it would make sense that the GSN would cancel HSP since there obviously isnt enough time slots for reruns of “Press Your Luck”, “Tic Tac Dough” and “Lingo”. I’ll be shocked if they renew their rights to the WPT in a few years.

  12. olivert

    HSP *** WAS *** GSN’s #1 show until WPT managed to draw over TWICE as many viewers compared to HSP, on the same day of the week in the same time slot (Mondays at 9pm Eastern/Pacific).

    Once WPT posted its ratings numbers (which were good enough for WPT to collect the first tier of ratings bonus, but is certainly not good enough for WPT to continue to sell itself as a “sport” due to the older audience skew), I suspected immediately that HSP would NOT be renewed.

    The big question: will GSN renew WPT by the June 1, 2008 deadline?

    The old President/CEO who was in charge of GSN when GSN signed WPT, Rich Cronin, “resigned” in July 2007. (I suspected that Cronin was ousted.)

    Liberty Media, which owns 50% of GSN, installed one of its men, David Goldhill, as the new President/CEO of GSN in August 2007.

    Mr. Goldhill was brought in by Liberty Media to “fix” GSN, which has developed a major demographics problem under Mr. Cronin’s watch. GSN’s median prime time viewer was a lady in her mid-to-high-50’s who plays bingo at church on weekends.

    Given that GSN paid WPTE at least 3 times as much money per hour ($150,000 per hour, excluding the ratings bonus) for the WPT as GSN had paid for every other program in its history, GSN obviously wanted results, i.e. a predominately young, male audience.

    However, WPT has lost a lot of momentum from its heydays in 2004 and 2005.

    Even though WPT’s audience is younger than the typical audience of GSN during prime time, the WPT on GSN audience is NOT young enough to attract advertisers that normally sponsors “sports” TV programming (beer, soft drinks/energy drinks, mobile telephone services, sports cars and pickup trucks, etc.)

    Even one particular play-for-free online poker room, PokerStars.net, cut its player sponsorship program at WPT TV final tables immediately after the first week’s TV ratings became available.

    The next 3 weeks will be interesting, as WPTE now has to convince Mr. Goldhill to continue to pay WPTE a rights fee for WPT on GSN. The “sales job” is never easy.

  13. Ed

    and the younger donks love tournament style poker more than cash games.

    well i wish they would release a DVD box set of the shows. maybe now they will since they are not going to milk as much as they can from the show being on tv.

  14. Kevin Mathers

    GSN put all 4 seasons of High Stakes Poker up on Youtube.


  15. Zero

    So is there any chance another network picks up HSP?

  16. TheRedeemer

    I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since they started placing Bra adverts in the HSP hour. It will be missed.

  17. Drizztdj

    Those were some *hefty* bras to fill as well, probably another jab at poker players being out of shape.

    For that, I did a sit up yesterday after downing a handle of Captain Morgan.

    ESPN maybe interested in HSP? Its a good segue into their WSOP coverage.

  18. olivert

    The “HSP” format will move to NBC’s Poker After Dark for 2 weeks this Autumn.

    Because NBC’s Poker After Dark is essentially a “time buy”, NBC Universal is not taking any financial risk.

    I now suspect that NBC Heads-Up as an NBC Universal Sports-owned TV programming business may go away after 2008, possibly to be replaced with a similar “time buy” in 2009. One candidate is the new FullTiltPoker.net Heads-Up Poker Championship, which will be an online-only tournament in 2008.

  19. Mean Gene

    Yay!! This might mean more episodes of Match Game ’74!!!!

    The ads always blew me away on High Stakes Poker. You’d have these salty, hard-core gamblers risking millions of dollars…and cut way to women talking about how hard it is to find a bra that fits and about 3 million Amaretto di Saronno spots. Great, now that damn jingle will be haunting me the rest of the day.

    Wouldn’t a season of HSP be the perfect filler for the 4 months hiatus before the final table? Maybe even have a special episode where they invite the final table participants to play in a lower-limit game, just so the fans get to see them play a bit. The table filled out with a few of their coaches, guys like Negreanu and Hellmuth and Chan? Yo, Bob Iger, gimme a call.

  20. Ed

    What are there commercial things you guys speak of? TIVO has made me forget they exist.

  21. California Jen

    Gene, what do you have against Match Game??? It’s no HSP, but that was good stuff back in the day! (Dating myself here…)

    About two years ago, the plan by GSN was to put out DVD’s of the first few seasons. (YouTube is NOT the same.) And the old gang over there just loved that show and did everything to promote it. And why not have one poker night per week? They can run bingo and Family Feud six other nights of the week.

    I think this is such a monumental mistake on the part of GSN, but it’s more disappointing for poker fans than anything. I hope this is just a temporary dip in the game’s popularity – not a trend.

  22. olivert

    > I think this is such a monumental mistake on the part of GSN, but it’s more disappointing for poker fans than anything. I hope this is just a temporary dip in the game’s popularity – not a trend.

    You still think like a poker player.

    Having spent 13 years as an independent marketing contractor for pay-per-view TV, I had to learn how TV executives and advertising media planners think.

    If you read AJ Benza’s quote above, you would have noticed that HSP’s audience skew was older than WPT on GSN’s audience skew.

    Keep in mind that WPT on GSN’s audience skew is still too “old” and too “female” for the advertising community to treat WPT as “sports television”.

    HSP’s fate on GSN was sealed the moment WPT’s TV ratings on GSN for the FIRST WEEK (March 24-30) was available.

    That ONE ratings data point, though imperfect, was all that was necessary for executives to make millions of dollars worth of decisions:

    1. GSN made its decision NOT to renew HSP final.

    2. PokerStars.net stopped paying players to wear logoes at WPT TV tables immediately.

    3. The decision for GSN whether to renew WPT or not was immediately put up for review.

    Why? That one data point showed the following:

    WPT can draw over twice as many viewers compared to HSP, and WPT’s viewers are slightly younger than the viewers of HSP, on the same night of the week and in the same time slot.

    WPT is no longer strong enough to bring in enough young viewers to sell itself as “sports” television.

    WPT is now essentially a game show, and one that may just be too expensive for GSN to afford based on the terms of the existing contract.

  23. DanM

    Well said, Oliver.

    Am I the only one scratching my head about how and why the WPT has/d twice the audience of HSP?

  24. Ed

    Dan I answered that in a previous comment.

    “and the younger donks love tournament style poker more than cash games.”

  25. Poker Shrink

    Oliver makes the point over and over, we are not the audience anyone is trying to locate. We watch poker anyway. But to attract the non-poker crowd the model must change and nothing has changed on WSOP or WPT or HSP or PAD since they first started showing them. Hmmm, time for a post: “What’s Wrong with TV Poker?” Coming soon.

  26. 85nutz

    I think part of the reason poker is not seen as a sports program on TV is becasue it’s not treated as such by the networks. With the exception of ESPN Classic and the NFL network when can you ever see a replay of a sporting event? You don’t see reruns of the Masters, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Super Bowl or any other sporting event. If poker was broadcast only once and if you didn’t catch it on that broadcast you missed it then it would probably get much better ratings. I never bothered to watch HSP when the new episodes aired because I knew I could alwasy catch it later on a rerun.

  27. DanM

    Interesting, John … HSP was the only poker show that was must-see TV for me (and Sang). Because I actually had work to do sometimes, we would Tivo it and he would make me watch it later that night. (“Dan, Dan, you gotta see this hand. I’m not gonna tell you what happened, but we have to talk about it while it’s happening,” he would say.)

    I think the WPT was like that in its earliest days — but I didn’t get Travel Channel then, so it wasn’t for me.

  28. Ed

    Dan, does sang need a fill in for you? I don’t have anyone to talk poker with at home. The wife just looks at me and rolls her eyes if I try it with her.

  29. DanM

    ***The wife just looks at me and rolls her eyes if I try it with her.***

    Ha ha, funny … I’m sure this sentence could apply to more than just poker. As to Sang, there are lots of things he needs that I suspect neither you nor Mrs. Ed could provide.

  30. Ed

    I dunno…I hear I give one hell of a foot massage. 😛

  31. DanM

    Murmur …

  32. DarkXoiX

    Lets hope they release a DVD package! I would download it =) Oh yes, i would download it. That would the first thing i ever download with copyright, but they deserve it

  33. DarkXoiX

    That would be*

  34. olivert

    GSN’s option to renew WPT for Season 7 expires on May 24 according to the latest Form 10-Q WPTE filed with the SEC.

  35. shronk


    One episode of ‘Ace in the House’ did air. It featured Matusow crashing and playing in a home game. The show was excruciating and I don’t think they ever shot another episode. (link to the one episode on Pokertube – http://www.pokertube.com/Movies.aspx?FreeText=ace%20in%20the%20house%20s01)

    On a related note, Stapleton and Huff had pitched the exact same idea to a few production companies and networks, but no one bit. Then their idea appears on TV the next year, starring Matusow (who is represented by someone that Huff used work with).

    I’m glad the show never got picked up for two reasons: 1) It was bad even for poker TV. It made celebrity poker look like a masterpiece. 2) I don’t ever want to read the headline “Man Kills Former Co-Worker Then Self Over Stolen TV Show Idea.”

  36. David

    This is clearly a matter of poor salemanship. HSN and WPT needs to employ the same company that sold the America runs on “Dunkin Donuts” marketing slogan. These people are showing folks ‘workin out’ and eating dunkin donuts like they are energy bars. The guy that sold them on that idea is the guy you are looking for. It’s not a matter of skewing younger, it’s a matter of seling the right products to the people that are watching the show.

  37. Ed

    or maybe they should get J. Hutton Pulitzer (a.k.a. Jovan Philyaw) to sell this shit. he could sell condoms to a nun.

  38. B

    I enjoyed all the comments posted. I have a TV Poker show I think would be good for GSN. It should hit the demographics they’re after. Got the option signed with a production company and GSN is one of the networks they are going to pitch it to. Look for it, it’s called ALL STAR POKER CHALLENGE at least for now.

  39. leroy


  40. olivert

    If you want GSN to put your poker show on the air, simply write GSN a check for $100,000 per hour of TV time.

    GSN has no issues with poker on TV as long as GSN doesn’t have to pay for it.

    GSN is losing over $3 million on WPT Season 6. Until that loss can be worked off (by selling ads during re-runs in the next 3 years), I don’t see GSN paying a penny for poker TV rights fee.

  41. Ed

    Maybe HSP needs to put out a box said (been asking for this for over a year now) and then all the fans need to do what Family Guy fans did. We went out and bought the box set and they sold tons of them and FOX said “wow…this show really is popular and making money…we should bring it back” and poof…back came Family Guy.

  42. B

    I just finished the first round of meetings with Rebel Entertainment Partners, it looks like they will get the exclusive rights to sell my show All Star Poker Chalenge, I’m very excited because they sold the Judge Judy Show and represent Judge Judy herself.

    My poker show is an actual game show that gives back to the poker playing community. The concept is simple and fun, can’t reveal it but I can tell you the prizes as of know and they may change. If you complete the game you win a $10,000 seat to the WSOP, round trip airfare for 2 plus hotel accomadations and $10,000 in cash.

    Be looking for it ALL STAR POKER CHALLENGE.

  43. Kevin Mathers

    Gavin Smith was talking about a new TV show idea on PokerRoad Radio, which I assume will be “Extreme Poker” at the Venetian. The format has two pros, 6 members out of the studio audience, and 1 player whose actions are controlled by audience vote.

  44. DanM

    Good luck, B. Seriously. I can’t really say if your show sounds good or not because you don’t really give us much — but that’s ok, I understand. Keep us posted and I am sure we will either:

    a) ream your show and give you specific details why it sucks/is destined to fail
    b) applaud your show and sing its praises, as if it’s the second coming of HSP
    c) share mixed reactions, finding the first season good and bad … but good enough to have us looking forward to the next season
    d) all of the above

  45. DanM

    RE: Extreme Poker

    I can wait.

  46. B

    Thx DanM, I wrote the show for the poker player community, the shows on air seem to have forgotten what it’s like to start out playing poker and trying to get to where the pros are. This is a show for you guys!!

    HSP, I loved the show and sorry it got canceled, that being said this was a rude awakening for Mori Eskanandi of Poker PROductions the company that produces HSP. I personally spoke with him and pitched my show concept to him. Lets just say after arguing back and forth with him on the state of television poker he told me “I’m fine with my shows I don’t need to produce another one” Famous Last Words.

  47. DanM

    Very interesting. Just to be accurate, HSP we now know hasn’t been canceled … just hasn’t been renewed. Technical difference, same result, of course …

  48. edbucks

    speaking of extreme poker, anyone heard of anything with PokerBowl lately? Seems like a one hit wonder.

  49. DanM

    Can you even call it a one-hit wonder if the record doesn’t even come out?

    Last I heard there were some people with “something” in the works to save it. All winners were apparently paid, so that’s good. But I am highly doubting the likelihood of its resurrection.

  50. B

    HSP back on GSN

  51. Ed

    B, you are a little behind in the reading. 🙂


  52. B

    Been busy Ed finishing my Poker Show. The WPT is going to FSN I guess I’ve been out for a while.

  53. luis cr

    that’s the only reson I tune gsn if they cancel, hsp no mas gsn me.

  54. Kevin Mathers

    Season 6 of HSP is scheduled to be taped late September/early October.

  55. DanM

    this post was from May 2008, btw, luis cr. they ending up saving the show, though there was a bit of a scare.

  56. paul kruger

    why is it that E S P N constantly rerun the same poker weeks after
    weeks , i just move to another channel

  57. Massimo

    Complete series High Stakes Poker