Can the High Stakes Poker reboot capture the magic of the original?

Can the High Stakes Poker reboot capture the magic of the original?
Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: December 15, 2020 11:30 PST

Season 8 premieres Wednesday after a nine-year hiatus for the show

Watching the trailer for the upcoming season of High Stakes Poker makes it hard to imagine a more intriguing lineup for a 2020 televised poker show.

PokerGO dropped the Season 8 teaser last week in a Twitter post that also announced the return of A.J. Benza and Gape Kaplan as the hosts of the new episodes. The poker community rejoiced in the reveal, with the show bringing back the iconic hosting duo from the first five seasons of the original run of High Stakes Poker.

Benza and Kaplan won’t be the only familiar names to come back from the golden era of High Stakes Poker. The first seven seasons of the series ran from 2007-2011, and that original run made High Stakes Poker one of the most popular poker shows of all time.

Can the second coming of High Stakes Poker live up to the hallowed reputation of the original? It’s impossible to re-create the backdrop of the late 2000s poker scene, and some of the iconic characters from the first run of the show simply can’t be brought back.

The first look at High Stakes Poker Season 8, however, offers a three-and-a-half-minute glimpse at what will likely be the most entertaining poker television produced in years.

High Stakes Poker Season 8: New blood in the lineup

We’ve known of Doug Polk’s return to poker for a while now, as he’s spent the latter half of 2020 playing warm-up matches leading up to his current “High Stakes Feud” battle with Daniel Negreanu.

Polk’s presence on High Stakes Poker Season 8, however, creates an entirely different dynamic than what we’ve seen between Polk and Negreanu. Polk sits in on Season 8 as one of the perfect personalities from the modern era of the game to play on High Stakes Poker.

Polk, along with other younger players like Jason Koon, Bryn Kenney, and Nick Petrangelo, provides the perfect balance of new generation superstars to go along with some of the iconic poker boom era personalities at the table.

A High Stakes Poker revival wouldn’t work without an influx of players that rose to the top of the game during the show’s decade-long hiatus. As much as we love to see Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, and Tom Dwan at the table, the true intrigue of Season 8 comes with seeing those names mix it up with the new regime of poker crushers.

Poker icons and recreational wild cards make for the perfect mix

Dwan, Ivey, Hellmuth, Jean-Robert Bellande, and Brandon Adams all appear in the Season 8 trailer. Adams regularly mixes it up with the likes of Petrangelo and Kenney on the modern high roller tournament scene, while the other four names are firmly entrenched in our minds as poker icons from the golden era of the game.

Adding to the intrigue are recreational players like Rick Salomon and Chamath Palihapitiya, both of whom bring presumably massive bankrolls of unknown depths to the game.

Modern era coverage of high-stakes poker tournaments puts poker skill at the highest level on display. The poker ability of 2020’s best tournament players can be amazing to watch, but you’re not going to see Petrangelo or Adams take it to the streets or play wild and loose in the Super High Roller Bowl.

Season 8 of High Stakes Poker might allow us to see those players open it up a little bit. We know Ivey and Dwan aren’t shy about firing away in televised cash games.

The overall mix of players seen in the Season 8 trailer has the poker community anxiously awaiting Wednesday’s premier. This first return episode is hopefully one of many more season premiers for High Stakes Poker, a show that’s long been missed in the world of poker.

Featured image source: Twitter