Poker Night in America - Episode 1 Recap
Poker Night in America starts off in style. Before we even get to the felt there is a private jet, thousands in side bets, and team captains choosing who they want to play with. In the first 10 minutes alone, you can already tell this show is going to be fun.
Meet the Players
The players range from mainstays in the poker world like Phil Laak, Mike “The Mouth” Matusaow, Kristy Arnett and Lauren Billings, to online sensation Shaun Deeb . These are just big names in the poker world, they’re also big personalities, which makes every hand especially interesting.
We join host Chris Hanson and the players in the Las Vegas, but only at a private airport getting ready to fly to play poker in New York. Executive Producer Todd Anderson explains just how difficult it is to get poker players to do anything before noon. “It’s like herding cats,” he remarks. While the players wait for everyone to arrive, including the notoriously late Gavin Smith, who shows up on a Harley with a minute to spare , we meet the players who have already arrived. As Mike Matusow points out, “there are 15 poker players but only one deck of cards.”
While on the flight to Turning Stone Resort in Verona, NY, the collection of poker players do what they do best, play poker. On the plane, there is a little impromptu toast led by Poker Night’s media director Nolan Dalla, who tries to create a little comradery with the “All for one, one for all” toast. Leaving the plane, Phil Laak tells us that these guys brought, “bags of money with them.” Should be a fun time in Verona.
The group is then divided into two tables with a draft headed by captains Kristy Arnett and Lauren Billings. After the players are divided up, we get to the action.
The first hand
The first hands focus on Kristy Arnett’s table which includes Arnett, Matusow, Smith, former pro-hockey player Greg Mueller , Shaun Deeb, Tom Schneider, Matt Glantz, and David Levi. The first hand on the action saw Matusow go all-in with A ♦ K ♥ against Arnett’s Q ♠ Q ♥. Arnett has the pre-flop advantage, but that quickly evaporates with the flop of K ♦ 9 ♠ A ♥. Things only get worse on the turn: 9 ♣ and then Matusow gets the full house on the river with a K ♠. And just like that, the first hand of Poker Night in America is completed.
After wunderkind Shaun Deeb takes the next hand in pre-flop betting, he gets a little education in poker history learning about the hand known as the Varkonyi. The Queen – Ten hand is named after banker Robert Varkonyi who won the WSOP main event in 2002 with the hand. The history lesson complete, the players move on to the next hand.
The next hand pits Schneider A ♦ 10 ♥ against Mueller’s K ♠ 9 ♦, Arnett’s Q ♠ J ♠, and Matusow’s A ♠ 5 ♥. The flop of Q ♣ 10 ♦ 2 ♣ sees Matusow bow out and Arnett gain the advantage. Unfortunately for Arnett, that advantage is short-lived as the turn is the 10 ♣ giving Schneider the edge. Arnett bows out and Mueller tries in vain to make a move, but Schneider goes all in takes down the $13k pot.
That hand ends an amazing first episode that saw players fly across country, thousands of dollars exchange hands, and of course, there was some great poker.
Superman, aka Gavin Smith, saves the day by arriving on time.
The table goes to Matusow, much to Arnett’s chagrin.
Greg Mueller and Tom Schneider enjoy a moment not taking each other’s chips.