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Poker Notes

Season 2 of the Big Game comes up all Aces

One of the most surprising developments in televised poker was last year’s inaugural season of the Big Game, and even though Season 2 was cancelled by Fox Sports after Black Friday, the episodes were already filmed, so PokerStars went ahead and is airing them on Which is a very good thing for poker enthusiasts like myself considering Season 2 has been just as thrilling as Season 1; if not more so.

For those of you unfamiliar with the format, the Big Game pits an online qualifier -dubbed the Loose Cannon-against a table full of poker’s top players and a random wealthy businessman or athlete. The Loose Cannon is staked $100,000 -the minimum buy-in for the participants-and can keep any profits over that amount after playing 150 hands. The Loose Cannon dynamic is what makes the show so cutting edge, since an LC that gets down early will start pressing, considering they are playing with house money that they cannot take home!

However, during Season 2 we have seen three really solid Loose Cannons participate in the four episodes thus far, beginning with the ironically named Gonzales Cannon who pocketed over $150k. Cannon was followed by Italian semi-pro Massimiliano Martinez, who took the pros for over $160k! Then there was the latest LC, Cari Bershell, whose non-stop aggression saw her cruising with over $100k in profits before running into cooler that drastically cut into her stack -Bershell still walked away with $23k in profits.

It seems that during Season 2 the Loose Cannons have learned from the mistakes of the Season 1 competitors who seemed content to just play upper tight and wait for big hand -which worked for a couple of them. But during Season 2 the LC’s have been mixing it up with the pros, who for their part seem not to be adjusting to the new Loose Cannons, and continue to lay down hands to them like they were the nits from Season 1!

Another great dimension during Season 2 was the table dynamics: Not only do we have the typical characters of Tony G and Phil Hellmuth (individually these two are wonderfully entertaining, but together they are pure gold!), Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Laak (who was in rare, rare, form during the Max Martinez episode where he accused the LC of being everything from a Zombie, to a Highlander, to a Shaolin Monk), but we also got a good look at Bob Voulgaris who is one of those people that can needle you and you laugh about it -and Voulgaris does in fact like to needle, even putting himself in his own crosshairs!

New episodes of the big game are uploaded to the website every Monday through Friday at around Noon ET, and previous episodes from both seasons are available in the archives.

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