Online Poker

Who Will Host High Stakes Poker?

by Poker Team

Following the introduction of the UIGEA, television was chock full of poker on TV. It was not uncommon to be channel surfing to find 3 or more channels showing different poker shows. ESPN and ESPN 2 had a plethora of World Series of Poker related programming. ESPN Classic would have poker marathons during weekends. The YES network had’s NY vs. Poker challenge. Heck, one channel even had something called the Heartland Poker Tour and a couple of channels had different celebrity poker shows. What all these shows had in common is fairly easy to see. They were all shows that featured a tournament format.

Then, 5 season’s ago, a new show burst onto the scene, grabbed its audience and absolutely refuses to let go. The show is the Game Show Network’s “High Stakes Poker.” Unlike all of the previous poker shows, High Stakes Poker stood out for a couple of reasons. For starters, the featured game was not a tournament. Instead it was a good old-fashioned cash game. In addition, since the game was invitation-only, the rotating player pool consisted of nothing but the most well known and biggest names in the poker world. Viewers were treated to the experience of watching a table filled with the likes of Phil Ivey, Gus Hansen, Phil Hellmuth and others instead of WSOP coverage who often times showed tables where there was at most, 1 or 2 poker heavyweights.

So this week, there is speculation that the wildly popular host of the show, A.J. Benza, will not be coming back to perform his duties for next season. This revelation has led to a great deal of rumors and innuendo from fans and players alike as to who will be the one to become the new voice of the franchise. After all, it’s not very common for a show to change hosts during a successful sustained run. Benza has been there with co-host Gabe Kaplan since day 1 and the two have been a knowledgeable and entertaining team.

Most of the rumors center around the thought that Benza will be replaced with a female. In fact, Benza alluded to as much in his own blog saying that “I hope you like the female they toss in front of you,” referring to his replacement. The news was not exactly greeted with open arms over on the twoplustwo poker forums as many responders were absolutely livid at the news. Several names are being rumored to be in contention for the job, the most notable being PokerStars Team Pro members Vanessa Rousso and Vicky Coren, former World Poker Tour (WPT) host Shana Hiatt, WPT host Amanda Leatherman, model and Absolute Poker spokesperson Lacey Jones, and actress and poker player Shannon Elizabeth.

The rumors will continue to swirl as the announcement of the new host could come as early as today. New episodes are set to air in February 2010.

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