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Starting tonight, CBS Sports Network will begin hosting The Final Table, a companion show to Poker Night in America that will focus on the final table from PNIA stops around the country.

The program is looking to step outside the typical mold for poker broadcasts with fun comedy segments and analysis from a couple of the biggest names in poker. Better still, these pros are going to be subject to “punishments” when they mess up, adding to the entertainment value of the broadcasts.

Have we peaked you interest yet? Check out the trailer for the program below:

Poker Tournament Coverage With Shock Value?

According to the website, The Final Table is a “poker show with a twist that brings together live commentary on the felt, fun comedy segments and a fresh new studio element that offers both analytical insight and shock value.”

From the preview on the website, this show is going to feature a ton of prop betting between the studio crew along with comedic commentary from a couple of big names in the world of poker. If you’re looking for “serious poker analysis,” you might find some but overall expect more hijinks than game theory.

Looking at the cast for the program, it appears that this program is going to focus more on comedy and less on “serious poker.” For example, their studio crew is anchored by comedian Joe Stapleton and features Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Hellmuth. While both Hellmuth and Esfandiari are both well known for their poker commentary, they also bring a high “entertainment value” to the program that could provides some hilarious segments if done right.

In terms of “poker commentary,” they are using the team of David Tuchman and Maria Ho. On the surface, this seems like a very solid commentary team but the first thing I notice is that they list Tuchman as “funny man.” To me, this implies that the broadcasts are going to shoot for funny rather than serious poker commentary.

They didn’t really reveal much in their trailer in terms of “shock value” other than making a couple or hints about grave consequences and something about Antonio having to eat something raw. (The music in the commercial drowns out the audio in spots.) Of course, since they are going to be making prop bets at will during these broadcasts, almost anything could happen.

Show Will Either Be Awesome or a Total Bomb

From the way it has been presented, I can see this show either being one of the most popular poker programs of the next year or it will completely bomb. Presently, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of room for any middle ground but my opinion is based on very limited information.

When done right, prop betting can be highly entertaining and if some advance thought is given to these prop bets (yes as in scripted), then I can see fans regularly tuning in to see “what happens next.” However, if the show ends up being a bunch of final tables with players nobody has ever heard of with uninspired prop bets and 5th grade humor segments, we probably won’t seem much of this show past the first season.

The first episode of The Final Table will air tonight with future new episodes airing every Sunday at 11 p.m. ET.

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.

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