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tvLove them or hate them, reality television is a “fad” that isn’t going away. With Poker Central set to begin airing original programming on October 1, we started to come up with reality TV ideas for the poker.

While we understand that poker is its own reality show, we are talking reality TV that would appeal to a broad audience and not just the hardcore fan base. Below are our five ideas for poker-themed reality shows.

Behind the Felt

What goes on behind the scenes of a professional poker tournament? Who are the people that run these events and what type of life do they live when they aren’t making poker dreams come true?

Behind the Felt would be a documentary series that would follow select individuals from around the poker industry. For example, one episode we may follow Jack Effel as he puts together a major WSOP Circuit event or even the World Series of Poker Main Event.

In another episode, we could follow the lives of various poker dealers with a sampling ranging from rookies to experienced veterans. We learn about their struggles, successes and what they plan for the future.

This series will focus exclusively on the industry and not on players. There are plenty of shows out there to highlight players but none that tell you the work that Matt Savage puts in to run a single World Poker Tour event. This show could expose a side of poker that is seldom seen and we believe would be a fascinating view for poker fans.

One Time!

Who doesn’t love a comeback story? A player is down on their luck or suffers a major illness or injury must leave the game. After a time, they return to the game and are able to still compete and in some cases come back better than ever.

One Time would feature poker pros and other players that are on the comeback trail and looking for another shot at poker glory. The show would highlight their struggles and what took them away from the game or what has them on the brink of exiting the game.

Then cameras would follow the players as they attempt to rebuild and rise back to relevance in the poker world. We expect this show will have its share of success and failures and should make for fantastic drama.

Do You Have Heart?

Can you take an average amateur player off the street and turn them into a competent poker player in six months? Do You Have Heart is similar to WWE Tough Enough but instead of vying for a contract, individuals are trying to learn how to become professional poker players.

The idea from the title came from Tony G. He always claims to have big heart in poker and stresses how one must have heart and commitment to the game in order to succeed. This concept would recruit several raw amateurs who want to risk it all for a career in professional poker.

Top poker pros would be the coaches for these players and the show would follow these players as they learn how to play and their struggles as they put their new found skills to use.

Of course, there’s going to be drama. Especially if these players happen to live together in the same house. The show could also be an elimination show similar to Tough Enough where the players not making proper progress are regularly eliminated.

The eventual winner would either receive a sponsorship with a major online poker site or a sizeable bankroll for their first year as a poker pro.

Poker Stars in the Real World

Poker pros are famous for having a blatant disregard for money. There are many of us that cannot fathom putting up $10,000 for a single poker tournament because it represents a significant portion of our annual income.

Some poker pros have never even worked a “normal job” in their lives or haven’t worked in the real world for so long that they have no clue what it’s like to be an average Joe. What would happen if these same pros had to work a standard job and live like the rest of us for 30 days?

Poker Stars in the Real World would put poker pros in these real life situations to see if they could live like a normal person and what shenanigans they could get into. They cannot have any help from poker friends, cannot access their bankrolls and cannot play poker to make money during the experiment.

Poker pros are supposed to be able to adapt in order to stay competitive. It will be interesting to see if they can do the same in real life.

Poker Celebrity Deathmatch

For those that don’t remember the classic MTV program Celebrity Deathmatch, it was a Claymation show where various celebrities battled in the ring to the death. How awesome would it be to have a poker version of this show – in Claymation of course.

Just imagine the matches we could see:

  • Phil Hellmuth vs. Sam Grizzle
  • Tom “durrrr” Dwan vs. Dan “Jungleman12” Cates
  • Annie Duke vs. Daniel Negreanu
  • Allen “Chainsaw” Kessler vs. Matt Savage
  • Ray Bitar vs. Former Full Tilt Poker Players
  • Russ Hamilton vs. The Poker Universe

and many, many more!

Johnny Gomez and Nick Diamond could provide hosting duties for the show or if we really want to make the program completely poker-themed, use Lon McEachern and Norman Chad for the voice. “OH! He took an axe to the head! That’s going to cut into his weekend plans!”

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.