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The Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout concluded this past Wednesday with Vanessa Selbst winning the $1 million top prize after defeating Kevin Pollack in two straight matches.

This event was the first broadcast from this summer’s Super High Roller Series, which was the brainchild of Poker Central. I viewed all the episodes, some multiple times, and have high hopes for the future broadcasts for the Super High Roller Bowl and for Poker Central as a network. Here are some my thoughts on the Celebrity Shootout.

Scott and Sylvia Solid in the Booth

Poker Central made an interesting choice pairing Kara Scott with 2012 WSOP Main Event runner-up Jesse Sylvia. Scott is a veteran poker broadcaster while Sylvia is a rookie. However, he did bring a wealth of poker knowledge to the broadcast and the pair made an interesting broadcasting pair.

Sylvia brought a wealth of modern poker knowledge to the table that has been missing on most poker broadcasts. While the more experienced broadcasters have been learning the game, they lack the insight that a true everyday player can bring to the game. This is the type of pairing that I hope Poker Central keeps for future shows, as it will elevate the overall experience for both casual fans and players alike.

Vanessa Selbst Showed Up to Play – Other Pros Not So Much

What was evident from the beginning of the pros shootout was that Vanessa Selbst was there to play for $1 million and the other pros were not. At least that is how I interpreted their play.

Selbst was making moves and playing a range of hands that you would expect from someone playing the first leg of a “winner takes all” type of tournament. The other pros didn’t appear to adjust their style for this type of format and had a hard time combating Selbst style.

Negreanu was uncharacteristically quiet during this event as well. Was he not feeling well or was he trying to let Antonio shine. It almost seemed as if Daniel’s heart wasn’t in the game.

Celebrity Round Provided Plenty of Entertainment and Interesting Poker Dynamics

I won’t lie. During the first hour of this event, I felt that some of the celebrities were trying too hard to be funny. However, as time went on it became clear why they were selected for this shootout. The banter between these five made for some entertaining television.

And yes, I like birds.

This lineup was like watching your standard home poker game play out. Brad Garrett was the overly tight player that managed to find a way to finish in the top three when Norm McDonald and Don Cheadle played their way out the game.

Hank Azaria and Kevin Pollack were easily the best players and I personally think that Azaria played the better game. However, Pollack ran better heads-up and advanced.

Overall, the game started out like a typical guy’s poker night with joking and shenanigans and ended with the two best players battling for the money, or rather a chance to win some money. It had a “Celebrity Poker Showdown” feel to it, and that was awesome. I used to love that show.

Suggestions for Next Time 

Overall, I enjoyed the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout. In fact, I watched some of the rebroadcasts, which is something I seldom do for tournaments. It is a program that I hope Poker Central chooses to revisit in 2016, but there are a few suggestion that I think would help improve the product.

  • Mix up the celebrities a bit more. Let’s have stars from other areas such as sports or music join the mix. There are plenty of interesting personalities out there.
  • Include a couple younger stars or internet guys in the pro mix. While this year’s lineup was great, perhaps include someone like Ben Sulsky, Viktor Blom, Dan Colman or another young superstar in the mix.
  • Better mix of male and female players on both sides. At least two ladies in both fields to balance it out and it seem less of a “boy’s night out.”
  • Maybe a bit more buildup for the amount of money these players were playing for. Other a suitcase of money on the table during heads-up, not much was being hyped about the $1 million at stake.

After watching the Super High Roller Celebrity Shootout, I’m looking forward to the Super High Roller Bowl broadcasts. There are several stories in that event. Couple that with the high quality production value we’ve already seen and the broadcast should be some of the best televised poker of 2015.

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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.